Fin and MechanicO: Last Boat To Cuba

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FinTec, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

    Nov 21, 2015
    Saint Simons Island GA
    You've got to make the Don Quixote picture your avatar!!!! It's a classic, even better than Klaus' pic with the dancers. 2.5 hrs wasted but well worth the story. You seem to be enjoying the hell out of Cuba and taking it all in. Kudos to you and your sense of adventure.

    You and Jaime Z are confirming what my parents and elders have been telling me about Cuba for ever. I was lucky to have left Cuba at a young age. Thank you so much for giving me a clearer perspective of where I was born especially when it comes from someone with similar passions.
  2. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

    Apr 9, 2012
    You're right about your respective Che memorial experiences, if I were looking to book a guided tour I know which brochure would get my attention!

    Thanks for taking us along with you.
  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Jan 19, 2016
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Killer updates @FinTec!

    Mulva...LOL. I laughed so hard when you posted the town sign and related how it makes you think of Seinfeld (huge fan of that show and can quote a ton of it). Also laughed hard with the pic of you next to the town Moron...LOL.

    The hostel you stayed at looked so cool, and what a great experience to hang with Fidelito and carry on a conversation via Google. Had no idea something like that was possible.

    Crazy story about the police run-in and then getting to hang with the judge for awhile. All part of the adventure and what a story to tell and memory to keep.

    Look forward to what comes next man, such an awesome report Fin.
  4. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Did you atleast check out the sweet beach at Cayo Santa Maria or was that a strike out? Oh man that toll booth was collecting, but nothing open? Covid times I guess. :scratch

    Yeah it is way out there, basically a Caribean island you can ride too. A hot spot for Canadians in normal years and completely unknown to Americans.

    Dropped pin

    Playa Las Gaviotas

    How about Remedios?

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

    Jun 3, 2007
    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    No Fin whiteboard "interview" with the judge ?????? :lol3

    Great stuff Fin. :thumb
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  6. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Nov 8, 2004
    In my natural state
    That would have been so cool.
  7. farleywilbur

    farleywilbur Been here awhile

    Dec 14, 2005
    The Great White North, eh?
    Great report!! I've been to Cuba twice, loved the people and the experiences.
  8. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

    Feb 9, 2008
    Finally caught up on this excellent rr .
    I am curious what became of the offered two-up ride with Fidelito onto the toll causeway resort area (post 217) ? You don't mention it and the bike is shown loaded for one .
    Your photos give little hint of roadside litter . Is Cuba really that clean, no empty water bottles anywhere , and plastic gets recycled as an outcome of the poverty and little being junked ?
    A rare time plastic garbage bags appear seems to be in the hurricane ruins of the hotel (post 218) along that causeway .Even the beach pictures appear litter free , due to lucky ocean currents ?
    Wish you luck and hope that Ludwig relents and you get your promised full time in Cuba .
  9. chilejack

    chilejack Viajero Viejo

    Nov 7, 2010

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

    Jun 3, 2007
    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    I've been curious, how was your Cuban flag on your jacket received by the locals?

  11. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Dec 23, 2012
    Denver, CO
    Been wondering, since food is so hard to find how are the casa particulars able to put out such huge spreads?
  12. dsrydr

    dsrydr Been here awhile

    Oct 13, 2009
    Oklahoma City
    They don't call it adventure riding for nothing! Great read, thanks.
  13. PukaWai

    PukaWai Long timer

    Nov 21, 2007
    Big Bear City, Ca.
    This just keeps getting better! I too liked the story of Don Quixote - tried to read it in Spanish, but gave up fairly quickly. Tried an English translation but it was too wordy so I'll just stick with the movie. Your picture is an absolute classic! All that's missing is a windmill in the background behind the statue and a wind turbine behind you. Photoshop?
    One more vote for the details of your ride with Fidelito. When he grows up, will his name change to Fidel?
    Crazy story about your Police adventure. I can't believe those guys asked if you knew Throttlemeister. I lost another day of my life reading that thread - all that was over 10 years ago, back in the days of "No Fumar Español" :hmmmmm
    Keep it coming, although we'll have have to wait til you get to a town with better than dial-up internet. That's probably ........ in Mexico:lol2
    glittleman and Animo like this.
  14. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 27, 2013
    So now Jamie and I had to change our plans. We decided to find a place in the nearby city of Holguin. Jamie send me a location ping and two of the Furious 5 are back together!


    Jamie had already found us a place to park the bikes here.


    Parking in these cities is at a premium. Just look for signs like this and you can park motorcycles and such overnight for a nominal fee. I think we paid $3 for both bikes for the night.

    Jamie getting aggressive with the garage owner


    Garage owner was a neat guy who liked his motorcycle. He was also a key maker and had his shop set-up in the garage.


    One of the buddies of the garage owner had some rooms just down the street so that is where we ended up.

    Walking around town at some random sites. The pope to scale


    Another old car with a Fiat Diesel engine



    View from the Casa roof. Way off on that hill are a series of hundreds of steps. Apparently up to a religious point. And if you walk the all the steps, you are blessed in a special way. Or you could just drive up the back side and get a partial blessing.


    And then dinner with the two amigos


    Our host was a professional cook so meals where excellent. The casa was medium at best and we feel we over paid. Our fault for not negotiating before hand.

    That next morning we get the Bat signal from Amigo #3, Amit had a flat and was in trouble. Of note, Amit was playing it a bit wild and loose with his gear. He had no way of fixing a flat or even pumping up a tire. I, on the other hand, am carrying what could be called an entire tire/tube repair and supply shop. So guess who gets the flat.

    Amit was able to stumble to the town of Baracoa. I agreed to meet him down there the next day and see if I could help. The next morning Jamie and I parted ways as we are heading in opposite directions. Jamie mentioned there was a guy up north that owed him some money he needed to “talk to”. I don’t owe you money, do I Jamie?

    Owner of the Casa, Julio.



    Until next time amigo!


    Of interesting note: not sure why Jamie does not talk about on his thread HERE, his is an absolute slayer with the ladies. When he first showed up he had some 50kg “friend” on the back of his bike. But at dinner he came back from town with a new girl. And then the next morning he left town with yet a third and different girl wearing only shorts and a tube top with a small Hello Kitty back pack holding only a bikini on the back of his bike. Man, I think he is playing the “Kevin Costner” look-a-like card here in Cuba. ;)

    The next morning we asked around town for a 15” diameter tire we could bring to Amit. It was Sunday…..Easter Sunday…..and in Cuba. The answer was no. I even made this sign on my white board that I held up at the gas station to a few motorcycle groups I saw. No luck.


    The other issue was his size was very odd. A 15” rear tire. I remember even in Mexico, Jamie and I commenting on how odd a size tire Amit’s bike had. The only clue we had was a rumor that cop motorcycles here use a 15” tire in back.

    I start my days trip to Baracoa with the usual sites of Cuba. I might add, entering town through the FRONT door this time.



    Battle tanks


    More battle tanks. This guy in the picture was hilarious. Once he figured out I could not understand him he proceeded to re-enact the entire Bay of Pigs battle using his arms and machine gun sounds. After a few minutes of this I told him I already knew the ending and thank you. MechanicO really liked this one.



    Some super clean bikes at a gas station. The guys laughed when I asked if I could take a picture as they could not believe I cared, considering what I was on.



    Of all my time here I found what could be called the only anti-American item in Cuba I saw. To be fair it was WAY out in nowhere at an abandoned factory. Looking at the paint I bet it was done during the height of the cold war. And I would also like to emphasize I never once felt any issues with the Cubans and me being American. If anything the opposite. But still kind of neat to see this old throw back stuff


    I love Pineapples and had the idea to pick one up for my next casa. So stopped at the roadside produce seller


    Being the gentleman I am, I commented on her nice pineapples and purchased this beauty for about $.80US.


    And to end with more classic Cuba. Here is a concrete bridge that has seen better days. The concrete has crumbled away at a joint and for whatever reason, only they know, someone decided to pull up on the rebar so they pointed upward into the road. Absolute tire destroyers. Then a second person said, that sucks, and stuck some branches and sticks in the crack to warn others. This is a major access road to the town of Baracoa. Eyes wide open at all times in Cuba and never ride at night.

  15. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 27, 2013
    Rolled into my new pad for the next few days in Baracoa. The Casa is owned and run by the funnest couple in Cuba, Denny and Rafaela. Denny is hilarious and very animated. He knows about the same amount of English as I know of Spanish.


    The place is stunning with a roof top view of the entire town and the ocean. Not a fan of panoramic but here is a 4 shot series in each direction





    Got a real good vibe with Baracoa and also just the right size. Goldylox size, not too big but not too small. I was really not digging the big cities in Cuba anymore.

    Some more old cars parked nearby, another Willies and some Frankenstein wagon Cuba style.


    First things first, we needed to get Amit back on the road. He was able to find the best Punchero (tube fixing guy) in town. Unfortunately, he used the not so good Punchero the previous day and the guy pretty much ripped him off and the tube did not hold air. So the tube got fixed and was holding but his tire was WAY worn down and very prone to flats. He decided to roll with it and see if he could find a tire later on down the road.


    But first to try the new tube Amit and I rode to a few sites in town.




    I gave him my hand pump and a spare tire pressure gauge I had. Crossed our fingers and off he went back onto the roads of Cuba




    I hung out in town for the day and did some errands. One was to finally get a Cuban haircut. Very excited for this. I got the full “Fidel Special”: cut, beard trip, straight razor around beard, special powders and oils and who knows what else he applied. Felt like a million pesos


    Denny needed to do some work on his sweet 1948 Willys. When you don’t have a workbench or vice in Cuba, this is how you get it done



    Denny loved his Willys. And being an engine guy you are going to get a tour of that. But I have to remind myself they are working with what they got and not be judgemental.

    OK, everything in the engine area is just beautifully wrong. I screamed a little inside when he first opened the hood. First it is a Fiat something diesel 4 cylinder adapted to a Toyota transmission using what looks like handmade brackets and some odd shimming. Apparently it is part 12V and part 24v system. The alternator was not in line with the pulley on the crank and was slowly being worn down on one side. The wiring was a full rats nest of changes on top of changes. I seriously saw what looked like plastic food wrap for wire coverings. The air filter was held to the hood support with those plastic straps you might use on shipping pallets. His radiator did not have a cap but it did have a giant cork wedged into the opening. There where welds that looked like they had been redone at least 5 times and one weld was now actually bigger than the part itself. The best was the engine mounts. If you look closely, they are big chunks of cut rubber with bolts through them.

    It is easy for me to be critical like this as I come from the land of AuotZone just down the street in every town in America. But I was glad he had this vehicle and amazed at how he had made it work for him. How could I judge? It was perfect in the Cuban world and that is good enough here.




    A buddy of his stopped by on this sweet Russian made motorcycle. I didn’t ask but it did not have a silencer as much as it actually had a loud-ner.


    Hitting the road after 2 nights in Baracoa

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  16. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 27, 2013
    After two nights in Baracoa I started my trek down to the southern coast. There is an amazing road from Baracoa to the south coast I was told by many to make sure to take. Goes up and over an impressive mountain range called the Sierra del Purial. It did not disappoint with endless twisty roads and some great views of Cuba below.

    Last shot of the norther sea before I turned south


    Up and over the mountains



    The usual monuments to the usual guys


    They have the craziest taxis or buses here. They basicly turn anything they can in to public transportation. This was a “bus” I saw picking up some locals in one of the mountain towns.


    Finally drop back down to sea level onto the coast and said howdy again to the Caribbean.



    This was actually a great spot to camp but it was only noon so kept rolling west.


    Stopped for shade at Playa Yateritas at this beach structure. It was a bar and patio someone had built and it looked brand new and never used? Then I looked at concrete floor and saw the pour date written in it, “Febuary, 2020”. These poor owners had built this right before Covid hit. Probably with hopes of having a great tourist filled summer of 2020.


    Rode through the city of Guantanimo and not much to report. Except I saw this road side food stand I stopped and ordered lunch at. Very rare to find so I to advantage of the opportunity. Typical of when MechanicO and I stop a crowd formed.


    The two ladies at the food stand even came out and started taking pictures. I took my jacket off the seat and motioned to one to go ahead and have a seat for a picture. Holy cow did this incite a roar of laughs from all there. For some reason this was the funniest thing they had seen in a while. And she hammed it up as you can see in the picture.


    Too bad the food was just OK. Ended up giving half of it to the dogs hanging out there waiting for guys like me to give them food.

    I figured the end of the day would be about when I get to Santiago. As I have mentioned before, I was not really into the big cities anymore so my goal was to avoid this one as well. So I cut just east of Santiago into a beach town called Siboney. As I have found before these beach towns have dirt roads out of them just winding along the beach. And this one did and it led to one fantastic spot on the coast.

    View of the ocean from my camp.


    Only catch was I kept seeing crabs bodies on the road from either getting squished from cars or eaten by birds. But it was not a lot so I figured the place was ok. Well, you see those mangroves just behind me in this picture of my camp


    Well, I pretty much figured out it was a crab-condo. All through dinner I could hear them rustling about and now and then a brave sole would walk out and see what I was about. A mere wave of my hand pretty much scared them back into the mangroves but it kept me on my guard while sitting there.

    However, it made for a very creepy evening. Once I went into my tent. Out they came. All night I could hear them walking around the tent and in a few cases even come up and scrape along it making that nylon material zipper sound. I would shake the tent now and then and you could hear them scurry off, but inevitably, they came back. I just told myself I am actually in their yard and also there is no way they can get in the tent. I think. After that I just lived with it and slept fine.

    Now the next morning I had visions of a sea of crabs covering everything and I would have to fight my way out of here. Didn’t happen, but I did check my boots for crabs about 5 times before I put them on.

    Morning coffee


    And a screen shot I just liked as I drove off from my camping site


    But this was the start of one of the best riding days in Cuba. First up was the incredible coastal road from Santiago to western. Follows the sea and due to some neglect was kind of challenging. Sections of where the asphalt highway had just failed and they turned into a one lane dirt track right up against the sea.


    A lot of the bridges had also failed.


    This bridge you could still drive over…if you dared.


    But funny enough the alternates for these bridges was always kind of fun as it would be a dirt road that would go down into the wash and sometimes up through a local village before spitting you out back onto the highway. You just never knew!

    At one point you come to a tunnel that is no longer being used and they direct you along a winding road to the side of the tunnel along the water. Man, what happened to the tunnel to have them do this?



    It was about lunch time and the usual super challenge of finding something to eat began. At one town I saw what looked like a pizza joint off the road and it even had people in it. I stop and see that there are people inside and at tables eating. Wow, fantastic, what a rare find. I walk in, the waitress takes me to a table and puts the menu on the table in front of me. I am in heaven, a menu! All the types of pizza I was going to order bouncing around my head. I open the menu to this


    Basically one item and it was ice cream. Vanilla ice cream. I suddenly look around at the other tables and sure enough, everyone was eating vanilla ice cream. Why do we need a menu for this was my first thought. But when in Rome....


    After finishing my nutrient packed lunch (it was good ice cream by the way) I continued west on the coastal road. I had marked a special spot however and here it is


    This marks the most southern point I was going to be in Cuba. It is around a town called El Macho. And it also finished my goal to go to the four polar points on the island. Yes, there where roads that went farther than I did to those points, but they were all closed due to Covid so in my book I went as far as they ALLOWED me to go. Good enough for me.
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  17. dixda

    dixda Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 12, 2010
    Thank you for your posts and your edifying thoughts of the struggles we all face on this planet.
  18. SteveTheLocal

    SteveTheLocal Been here awhile Supporter

    Oct 24, 2010
    Island in the Salish Sea
    Thanks. Really enjoying your posts.
    The food in Mexico is going to look pretty good eh?
  19. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 27, 2013
    With good solid internet I am finally able to upload the interview I did with Captain Ludwig from the Stahlratte. This was recorded on the Stahlratte in March as we had just arrived in Cienfuegos, Cuba and we were all waiting out a 4 day quarantine. Perfect time to sit down with this famous captain in the ADV world.

    So with that I give you the second interview for this Cuba series, Captain Ludwig.

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  20. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Aug 21, 2016
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    Great interview and interesting content.
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