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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.
Perhaps Ludwig can compensate you guys for cutting your experience short...
No pics of 53 Buicks?
1 abril 2021
Waves and springs.
I camped last night just off the main highway east of Guantanamo next to a sugarcane field. I was mostly out of view of the road, and I didnt figure anyone would be coming back here before morning.
Very shortly after I woke up I heard footsteps and looked through the screen outside and saw a man approaching on a horse. It was a young guy and as he came up I opened the door to my tent.
He was clearly a local worker, and obviously confused about me. I greeted him and asked him if it was all right that I had stayed here for the night. He shrugged and said it was fine. He didn’t say much else, but watched and stared as I packed up.
I made a few comments to him. Told him I was traveling around Cuba on my motorcycle. He didn’t say much at all. I didn’t tell him where I was from.
I made record time packing up. I’m guessing I spent about 15 minutes packing and loading. And not because I was in a big rush, but the guy stayed there and watched, so I didn’t dawdle. Just as I finished, he galloped away quickly to meet up with a couple of other coworkers waiting for him at the end of the field. They all stared as I rode past and waved.
A few minutes away from camp I crossed this railroad.
There’s nothing special about this crossing. There are train tracks occasionally in Cuba, though I’ve never seen a train. But I wanted to talk about a Cuban drivers. You have to stop at railroad crossings. You can see the stop sign here. I’ve been caught off guard a few times and blown through the railroad stop signs. I haven’t seen any railroad crossings with a signal or arms. Everyone stops. And not only do Cuban drivers stop, they stop completely, and they frequently sit for several seconds before continuing.
I’ve seen that at almost all stop signs in Cuba. Unlike Mexico where stop signs are simply a suggestion which people rarely adhere, stop signs here are taken seriously. Klaus warned us before we got off the boat that we should stop and put both feet down at stops signs here in Cuba.
There’s a lookout over Guantanamo Bay here, though I doubt it’s possible to see the US base from this far away.
Huge tracts of land growing banana trees.
And then an amazing section of coastal road where the surf blasts up against the rocks.
This was quite a sight.
I followed the highway referred to as La Farola, which leads to the town of Baracoa. Baracoa is Cuba’s oldest European settlement, and it was cut off from the rest of the island until 1960 when this new highway was built through the mountains.
It’s a great road with great views, but the pavement is bumpy, so there’s no peg-dragging here.
I passed a spring along the side of the road and stopped to investigate. It’s obvious that people use this water… so I filled up a bottle and had a look.
After a taste, I determined it was fine. Let’s see how I feel the next day or two.
I was stopped at another covid stop. The ladies were very kind. Asked to see my passport and covid test results. Then the one in the scrubs asked if she could take a picture of my bike. I told her only if I could take a picture of them in the tent. There was another woman there who said she could not be in the picture in her uniform.
As I rode away I realized I should have offered to let her sit on the bike, or a picture of her with the bike.
I rode into Baracoa planning to stay in the same place Klaus and Jorge did a few days ago so I put the location in my GPS. As I rode through town a man on a bicycle waved his arms at me and I stopped. He told me he knew my two Mexican friends, and was I looking for the same casa particular? I already had the address, but he offered to lead the way anyway. He stopped me first at a place where I could change dollars to pesos, but I don’t need any pesos. Then he led me directly to where my GPS was pointing me at the casa particular.
The man told me he could go get me some sugarcane juice, just give him a little money and he’d go get it. He asked for some money for showing me the way to the casa particular. He said he’d come back later to show me where I can go for dinner. He offered to help me with my bags, and then grabbed my tank bag by the water hose and the whole thing fell to the ground and the hose popped out. I told him I didn’t need or want any help. I didn’t want sugarcane juice, and I didn’t want dinner. I really had to bite my tongue and keep cool. I knew if I gave this guy anything, he wouldn’t leave me alone, so I carried my things up to my room and waited until he left.
The host here is amazing. The room is incredible. It’s on the third floor of this corner building.
If you remember from my Mexican portion of this trip, I like to take an evening walk, but I haven’t had much of a chance to do that in Cuba, so after I carried my belongings up to my room, I took off my boots, put on my sandals, and walked through Barcoa.
This church is said to house a cross brought here by Columbus in 1492.
From what I’ve read, analysis indicates it’s from the same time period, but made from local wood.
Baracoa is known for its chocolate, so I stopped at the Casa de Cacao to try a couple pieces. It’s extremely bitter. You dark chocolate lovers would enjoy this. Me? It was like that expresso I drank in Pluma.
Many people don’t know that the term chocolate bar, and thus candy bar, comes from the name of the town, BARacoa.
Klaus said this is his favorite town in Cuba, and I can see why. When there isn’t a pandemic, I bet this place is a lot of fun and I’d like to return.
A lot of people were out playing sports and exercising. I’ve seen a lot of that in Cuba.
And for you fans of Russian vehicles.
And then when I got back, dinner served by my host on the third-floor balcony.
Amit sent a message on WhatsApp: “Looks like some rain is coming our way.”
Living the dream amigo
2 abril 2021
I end up camping with a couple of drunken Cubans.
Breakfast today was served at 8am.
I packed up, including my now-frozen water pack. I’ll have cold water all day now.
I pulled my bike out of the garage and the owner parked his ‘48 Willy’s in front of his place and showed me a few features.
It has a French engine and a Japanese transmission and differential.
I rode into the city center and down the Malecon where I had walked last night. I found this bizarre statue.
I really don’t know what it represents, but it has a weird Terminator vibe.
I backtracked through town to get a picture of the welcome sign, showing the founding year of 1511. I asked a local to take my picture.
The road leads northwest out of Baracoa along the coast.
I turned off the highway a few times. Sometimes this leads to some interesting places.
I passed a stand along a gravel section and I made a U-turn to go back to check it out. The woman was selling some ice cream cone-looking things, but they were made from coconut, she said. I bought one for 15 pesos.
The cone is made from the bark of a tree and not edible, but inside is a sort of sugar/coconut mixture. I’m not a big fan of coconut flavored things, but this was pretty good.
The mom asked me if I could bring her daughter back home since I was heading that way. I said it would be no problem, but pointed out that I didn’t have an extra helmet. Helmets are strictly required here in Cuba. I wish I would have known to carry an extra. Even a bicycle helmet would work… or that one I bought in Oaxaca.
Shortly down the road, the rain started. I have a bad habit of waiting too long to put on my rain gear; I stopped so that wouldn’t happen.
Of course it didn’t rain for long. Just a few drops. It wasn’t long before I stopped again and took off my rain gear.
I stopped on a bridge to capture this scene.
My intermediate destination was Salto del Guayabo, Cuba’s highest waterfall. Ahead were dark clouds.
I pulled into the empty parking area in front of a well-groomed looking natural resort. A young man came out to greet me in English.
I asked if the place were open. He said, “For you, yes.” He invited me inside and asked what I was there to see. Do I want to take a tour? Do I want to eat, or maybe stay the night camping?
As he talked I looked around and realized that the place was completely empty. Just two guys here, drinking. He told me not to worry about anything. It seemed like a good place to stop for the night.
One guy offered to take me on the tour. We went out the back of the lodge down a dirt path and pointed out various plants. I soon realized he was very drunk.
We walked out onto a platform to view the waterfalls. Yeah, there are two.
It’s amazing. But then it started to rain hard. My guide turned us back toward the protective building. When we got back the other guy had a laugh and offered me some rum. We sat for a while on the front porch and talked. He explained that the place is closed because of covid, but they stay here for security. A little while later he pulled out a guitar and he played a short tune.
He had an amazing voice, but the guitar was horribly out of tune.
I followed Orestes into the kitchen and he offered to make dinner, but apologized because they don’t have much.
It felt like The Shining. Two guys here for a four-day shift. He said they don’t usually see anyone else. I never did get the older man’s name, though he told me a couple times. I couldn’t understand him through his accent and slurring.
They had the place to themselves, though not a freezer full of food. Just a few things and a bottle of rum. For dinner we had a bowl of soup, and then rice and bananas.
After dinner I got a couple bags of M&Ms from my top case and gave it to the guys. Neither opened them. Orestes said he would save them for his children.
Orestes set me up a couple of cots with a thin mattress on top, and I laid out my sleeping bag.
I sat down to write a bit of report and Orestes came out from the kitchen and called to me. He showed me a pair of glowing eyes in the grass and asked me if I knew what it was. I guessed that it was some sort of insect. He grabbed it from the grass and set it on the table and explained to me that this is a cocullo, and as a little boy, he would play with them.
When flipped on its back, the cocullo will flick its wings or legs (I’m not sure) to right itself. This makes an auditory pop, and the cocullo flips into the air at least six inches. This made me laugh harder than I have laughed in a long time.
I went to bed early and it rained hard off and on through the night.
Great stuff. I’m loving it.
Great report Jamie.
I’m sure glad it’s going on for bout another 10 years eh...
As others have said, you have a different style with your story telling.
Kinda concise but it’s all there.
And your photos are very revealing of what’s happening where your at in that moment.
Really enjoying it.
It would appear they've set sail for Isla Mujeres about a half hour ago.
Well that would explain why Ludwig was eager to get going.
Looks like you scored at Salto del Guayabo. I've been hearing about cocullos all my life and now I know what they are, thx. Spotwalla shows you in Cienfuego and also shows you travelled throughout the entire island, outstanding!!! It must be pretty cool there if you've willing to return, especially with Covid. Thx for the update, I'm loving every bit of it.
jamie, you mentioned there are goats everywhere and it is sorta of a road hazard. do you think they are an environmental problem in cuba due to overgrazing? also, is goat meat (cobra) popular like in mexico as birria?
Great report. You should think about carrying a water filter. You can get the ones that are a bag with a filter to attach and will fit in your pocket or carry a Life Straw.
That is just a great photo.
Will Jamie and the gang have to quarantine upon arrival in Mexico?
In Mexico there is no quarantine, Quintana Roo doesnt have nothing like that in place when someone arrives from a foreign country.
Damn @Jamie Z, this update is on par with the one where you took the horseback rider up on his offer of dinner and hanging out (can't remember his name). What a treasured memory to have with you man, especially as you're now on your way back to good 'ole Mexico. What a nice way to wrap things up - have a stay at that resort after such a great time with the host from the night before and then the awesome ride to get there. And a big bonus, no Shining moments with here's Johnny and an axe...lol.
Hope the voyage back across the open water isn't too bad and your sea legs come back quicker.
Knobby (hull?) side down man, look forward to reading about your passage back.
Jamie posted a pic on Facebook of them sailing away.
3 abril 2021
I try to meet up with Fin, but he ends up in jail.
When I woke up in the morning, I heard Orestes and his colleague moving about. A heavy fog had set in around us in the jungle, and I could hear water dripping from the leaves onto the roof and light rain coming and going.
Orestes offered breakfast and came back with fried bananas and ham, which were excellent with a little sugar sprinkled on top.
All of my stuff was damp, but I packed everything up as best I could and when there was a break in the rain, I pull my bike up closer to the building and carried out my stuff.
Before I left I gave each of the guys a ten dollar bill and thanked them for everything they’d done.
The road out wasn’t too bad. A few slippery spots here and there and some puddles.
I went back through Mayari where I stopped to remove my rain gear. The sky had already cleared up and the sun was coming out. I had a couple people stop to look at my bike and ask a few simple questions.
I was able to check my email and saw that Ludwig had accepted our proposed compromise. We would be leaving on Monday, April 12 after checking the bikes out of Cuba.
My next stop, the birthplace of Fidel Castro, was not surprisingly closed.
But then a young guy on a bicycle rode up and offered to let me in for a few pictures.
I don’t know what building is what. The guy told me a few things; most importantly that Fidel was born into a wealthy family and had grown up here.
He refused my offer of a small tip at the end.
I followed a couple of back roads and got stymied by mud once or twice. Fortunately never stuck…
I was grateful for the cooler weather today. It’s been very hot for most of my time in Cuba, today was refreshing.
A few days ago Fin had contacted me and sent me this picture:
...and asked me, “Didn’t you say you brought some spare grips for the Perfect Squeeze?”
We were going to cross paths today and I aimed for Holguin. Bill, I finally found your ‘53 Buick.
In Holguin, Fin messaged me that he had been stopped by the police and they had taken him to a police station in Gibara, just up the road from me. Not that there’s much I can do, but I told him I was on the way.
I stopped to pick up a couple of beers. This was one of the best-stocked food stands I’ve seen anywhere in Cuba. Beer cost 100 pesos each.
When I got just outside Gibara, I stopped at a covid check station, as I’ve done numerous times. But this time, the guy didn’t ask me where I was going or where I was coming from, or take my temperature, or write down my name. Instead he approached me waving his hands. “No puede pasar! No puede pasar!” And he waved his hands in the “get out” motion.
In no position to argue, I turned around and went back a half mile. I messaged Fin to tell him what had happened. He replied that he wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but that they were checking his passport. I told him I was returning to Holguin.
For the full story of Fin’s experience, check out his ride report:
But then I saw a sign for a tunnel. A what?
I’m pretty sure if I had gone through the tunnel and kept going, I could have bypassed the covid stop where I had been denied, but I sure wasn’t going to end up in jail like Fin! I retreated to Holguin.
I’d seen a sign for a casa particular advertising parking for motorcycles and bicycles. I went back to that spot and rang the bell.
I asked about a couple of rooms. The guy told me his rooms were not available, but that he knew someone else where we could stay, and we could keep the bikes in his garage.
We waited for Fin to be let out of jail and ride down to Holguin. Our two bikes parked in the neighborhood caused a bit of a stir, and several people came by to ask questions. Fin showed me his damaged phone mount, but decided he probably didn’t need the spare part I was carrying.
What followed were a few phone calls, going into a couple different houses, and then finally ending up with Julio who had two upstairs rooms for rent and Fin and I took them. We parked our bikes in Alex’s garage.
Once settled in our rooms, Fin and I took a short walk around the city. There’s a pedestrian mall that was completely closed.
...and a statue of Pope John Paul II.
We returned in time for dinner served on the third floor balcony.
Fin and I stayed up for a couple more hours comparing our experiences so far. Fin had explored western Cuba and was heading east. I had gone through eastern Cuba and heading west.