RTW the Jamie Z Way: Veracruz Mexico

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Moto_Addict

    Moto_Addict Work less, Ride more!

    May 5, 2020
    Greencastle, IN
    I love hearing the stories and pictures of your experiences with the locals. I consider myself an introvert as well but there is something fascinating about being an outsider in a foreign land and interacting with the locals away from all the touristy areas. That is how you really experience a country on a personal level. Keep the stories coming!
    Jamie Z, Contrarian and borderlinebob like this.
  2. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

    Feb 16, 2004
    Texas Hill Country
    Lovin’ it! A view into a country rarely seen by US folks. Makes you really appreciate our country!
  3. dixda

    dixda Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 12, 2010
    Thanks so much for your posts of this beautiful land!
    Jamie Z likes this.
  4. jaratr

    jaratr Without a ride

    Jul 6, 2007
    Fort Smith, AR
    Wow. Loving this report more and more every post.

    And this has to be the epigraph of your travel book;. "The jungle was my nemesis and I took a log hard into my shin."
    MazztheSpazz and Jamie Z like this.
  5. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Jan 31, 2010
    I can’t get over your last 2 posts. What a wonderful ambassador you are for foreign travellers and motorcyclists. Your kindness to your hosts and going with the flow. Also fixing the brittle hose for someone’s water flow. You maybe an introvert but you are attracted to the genuine and down to earth. Thanks for the wonderful ride along.
  6. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    29 marzo 2021

    An island is land surrounded by water, but not a drop to drink.



    I slept well last night, though I woke up with a very sore wrist. I think when I was on the horse yesterday, I must have pushed off a tree and strained my wrist. It hurt quite a bit.

    I packed up and got on the road.

    A few miles later I saw another roadside bar. They had a lot of stuff including juice, soft drinks, beer, and water. I was already loaded up on water, but I purchased a one-liter box of juice and drank almost the entire thing right then and there.


    I stopped in the town of Cascorro. It was hot, my wrist was hurting, and I couldn’t sit on my seat any longer. I found the local WiFi in the park and logged in to back up my photos.


    While I was sitting there, a young man on a Suzuki GN125 went past, made a U-turn and came back to look at my bike.


    Eddy’s bike was meticulously clean. I wish we could have chatted more about bikes; he was clearly very enthusiastic about motorcycles. Among a lot of Chinese and a few Russian bikes, you see a lot of Suzuki GN125 bikes.


    I crossed into the province of Granma. Granma is the name of the boat that Fidel, Che, and others came over from Mexico on to start the Cuban revolution. The site of the landing is along the coast here.


    Man, it was hot. I stopped in the shade for a bit and leaned against a tree to drink some water.


    Lots of propaganda. The whole country is filled with images of Fidel, Raul, Che, and others. I expected a little of this, but not to the extent I’ve seen.


    I filled up with gas in Manzanillo. Asked the attendant there where I could buy some water. All he could do was shrug. I kept my eyes open through the city to find any place which might be selling water.

    Later in the town of Ceiba Hueca I saw a pizza shop open and I stopped to ask if they had any water or any drinks.

    No. Nothing. I asked where I could find some. The lady pointed down the street and gave me some directions. While I was there I ordered a pizza… which was more of a calzone, but that’s fine. Travels better.

    I followed her directions down the street where a couple of guys were standing in front of some sort of official looking office. I asked them about buying water. They pointed me down the street to a fuel station. So I went to the fuel station and asked the attendant if they had any water.

    No. No water. No drinks. No nothing. I asked where I could buy some water. She replied, “Manzanillo.”


    I continued on and saw another food stand. I made a quick U-turn and went up to the front. And older man came out and I asked about food or drinks. He shook his head. “No agua?” I asked him? He said yes, and turned back into the house. I could hear the baseball game on TV.

    He returned with a large jug of ice cold water. I have no idea where it came from, but I accepted the water and he filled my jug and my hydration pack in my tank bag. He wouldn’t accept any money.


    We talked a little bit about baseball and who was winning.

    Before I got to the town of Pilon, I encountered yet another covid stop. I go through these at least twice a day. Most times they don’t even stop me. I slow down, they wave me past. When I am stopped, they usually just ask where I’m going. Once or twice I’ve had my temperature taken.

    Here they asked where I was going. Pilon. They told me nothing is open in Pilon and I can’t stop or stay there. I told them I was on my way to Santiago de Cuba, and they said that I have to go directly there and I can’t stop.

    Sure thing. Wink, wink.

    I later learned that Amit went through the same checkpoint very soon after I did. He actually had a reservation at a casa particular in Pilon, and they told him it’s not allowed. They even called the casa particular right then and there and told Amit that his reservation was cancelled. Like me, Amit promised to ride through to Santiago de Cuba.

    Amit told me that when he got to his casa particular in Pilon, the guy there said nobody had called him. Amit said he had a nice stay with good food.

    In the meantime I rode through Pilon, and as promised, everything was closed up. Daylight was coming to an end, so I rode past and started to look for a place to stop for the night. I got off the main highway.


    And found a turnoff.


    Here was a perfect place, just off the beach, where I enjoyed my pizza before setting up my tent.


    Here’s a shot from the next morning of my campsite.

  7. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

    Sep 4, 2011
    sunny san diego
    Your rockin it brother!! Thanks for keeping us posted!!
  8. NorskieRider

    NorskieRider Ultracrepidarian

    Mar 19, 2011
    Can someone shed some light on the water situation? I've googled it but only come up with 2011-2015 articles, mostly focused on the human impact, not the cause.
  9. Bapeter11

    Bapeter11 n00b

    Jun 14, 2020
    Slayton MN
  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    30 marzo 2021

    A beautiful coastal ride and a weird ending.



    I took a short walk in the morning along the beach while I ate a couple of cereal bars.


    I packed up and got on the road. This section of highway along the southern Cuban coast was recommended by several people and it was high on my to-do list. I was looking forward to it. The road started out rough with lots of potholes, missing pavement, and sections of rutted gravel.

    And crabs…


    Actually, these were the only live ones I saw. I saw lots of smashed crabs on the road for the next few miles, but no more live ones.

    Very shortly I came upon a cable across the highway. Another covid stop. Some of these are easier than others, but this guy was serious. He wanted to see documents, wrote my name down, looked at my negative covid test from a couple weeks ago. Eventually he lowered the cable and told me I could pass.

    And as always, goats. Everywhere in Cuba are goats. They’re probably the biggest road hazard.


    The coastline is beautiful.




    Can’t believe I rode across this bridge.


    A few gravel rocky sections close enough to the water to get sprayed by the surf.


    There were several tunnels dug into the hillside opposite the sea. I stopped at one and walked back into one a short ways. Tunnels are always sketchy, and there were a lot of bats flying around, so I didn’t go far.


    The last section of road was perfectly paved and beautiful. Just before I got to the town of Santiago de Cuba, I saw Amit’s bike parked on the side of the road by a bus stop. He was laying down in the shade having a break. I stopped and we talked for a while, deciding to backtrack a mile or so to a small resort-looking place.


    When we pulled in, a guy came up and introduced himself as Hugo and told us they had food and drink. He pulled out a live lobster. After a bit of negotiation, we agreed to pay 500 cuban pesos for the lobster, including rice and salad.


    Amit went for a swim and then we left to ride into Santiago together.

    Amit already had a casa particular booked. I was planning to stay with the same guy that Klaus and Jorge had stayed with a few days ago. They gave me his number and told me he was waiting for me.

    I called and in my infantile Spanish said that I was looking for a room. The guy responded with a blast of Spanish. I didn’t catch a single word. Using Fin’s technique I told him I was learning Spanish and asked him to speak slowly. Once again he went on in 100 mph Spanish. I didn’t understand a word. I said again that I was looking for a room. I didn’t understand his response. There was a long pause. Then he said something quickly and *click*. Did he hang up on me?

    I got back to Klaus and Jorge that I tried to call, but couldn’t understand, and I think he hung up on me.

    Klaus must have called him because then Klaus messaged me and told me to meet the guy at his place and sent me the location. He was outside when I arrived, but he spoke to me the same way in person. I barely understood a word and no matter how many times I told him that I barely spoke Spanish.

    Eventually we worked out that I would pay the same as Klaus and Jorge. They told me they paid US$15 for the room, plus $10 for dinner and $5 for breakfast.

    The whole stay was a little strange. The room was sub-par. The bed was falling apart. I tried to put the slats back onto the frame so the mattress wouldn’t fall through. I ate chicken for dinner, and what it lacked in flavor, he made up for in volume. There was enough for four people. He had some friends over and they talked and smoked in the living room while I ate. The host offered to go pick up some beer if I wanted, and I agreed.

    I did talk to one of his friends who was more patient with my basic Spanish and she told me that everyone in Cuba dreams of going to the United States.
    forgorin, juno, ChicoProf and 57 others like this.
  11. OdyBandit

    OdyBandit Long timer

    Apr 5, 2014
    Central Illinois
    Great report Jamie. That water crisis is curious. No wells or tap water? And remember, horses are dangerous I’ve been hurt far worse by them than motorcycles.
  12. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    I don't have a good answer to this. I ride around each day wondering how people can live here. There's almost nothing available.

    There aren't stores here like you are familiar. Most commonly I've seen small roadside stands, but they usually are selling just one or two different items. They'll have a basket of tomatoes and a few bananas. Or some bread. Local Cubans aren't buying bottled water, so these kinds of places don't have water available.

    I have found a few stores and shops which would look familiar to most of us until you go inside. The "store" will be nothing but a few aisles of empty shelves, and then one shelf near the front with a few items. Maybe water. Maybe some juice.

    I've also come across some roadside bars. They'll usually have a decent selection of drinks, including beer, maybe some juice or sodas, water, and a shelf with bottles of liquor.

    They do have what I've started to refer to as "dollar stores." And I don't mean stores where everything costs a dollar. I mean stores where you can only buy things in dollars, though not with actual US currency. From what I understand, you have to buy a prepaid credit card with US dollars, and then you can go shopping in those stores. These stores, apparently, have much better selection of items. Klaus has shared a couple of pictures of himself inside a store with shelves of beer and other canned and boxed goods. I think that's inside one of these "dollar stores." I have not been inside any of them.

    The truth is, though. I really don't know. I suppose if you live here, you figure it out. But for me, who doesn't speak Spanish well, who is bopping around from place to place each day. I'm having trouble locating everyday things. I don't know how local Cubans do it.
    forgorin, juno, Mcahron and 31 others like this.
  13. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

    Dec 1, 2009
    Playa del Carmen
    We were on a group ride in Chiapas, Jamie Z, JD, Johnny and I.

    We were on our big ol’ state of the art motorcycles. Mounted GPS, a trusted iPhone mounted on our handlebars, running google maps, some with maps.me.

    We were the envy for miles around, and we still managed to get lost, so there’s that :lol3


    Garmin V: $700
    iPhone with google maps: $1,100
    Stopping in a little village to ask for directions: Priceless
    Jamie Z, Jory, misery goat and 27 others like this.
  14. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    31 marzo 2021

    I camp near Guantanamo Bay.



    Amit messaged me in the morning that he was going to the nearby town of El Cobre, known mostly for the basilica. I hadn’t slept well on the rocky bed and I was just waking up so I told him I’d try to meet up with him a little later.

    When I went to pay for my room, the guy wanted to charge me $50 total instead of the $30 he’d charged Klaus and Jorge. We went back and forth before he agreed that he’d give me a deal because I was his friend. Then he asked for US$4 per beer. On this he wouldn’t budge. He said in Santiago everything is expensive.

    In El Cobre I made a loop of the church in the center of town, but after a couple of jineteros tried to stop me--a couple by physically getting in front of my bike--to sell me crap or offer a tour, I rode straight out. Never even got off the bike. Very little aggravates me more than hard hustling like that.

    I rode up by the old copper mine (el cobre) and saw Amit’s bike next to a staircase leading up a rocky outcropping. I met him coming down and he was with a group of four people he’d met back in Santiago. I don’t know the whole story, but a couple of them are European and work at the embassy.

    From the top, you can get a view of the city, including the basilica.


    And behind it the lake formed from the former mine.


    Amit and I rode into town for gas. His auxiliary light had fallen off again and he asked for a couple of zip ties to attach it to the engine guard so it wasn’t flopping around on the wire.


    I told him I had a pair of wire cutters which would probably work better.

    Amit was planning to stay in Santiago for another night. I was heading to see La Gran Piedra. Already it was hot and humid. I stopped along the way to get some shade and a drink.


    You can ride most of the way up La Gran Piedra, but then there is a steep hike to the top.


    And some stairs.


    The view is incredible.


    There is some sort of radar or communication tower up here.


    When I got back to my bike, a local man was sitting nearby. He talked to me a bit about my bike and invited me for coffee. Once more, I wanted to accept the offer, but I was really exhausted from the heat and ready to get back on the road.

    A bit later, what I thought was some relevant propaganda.


    Sometime this afternoon, I got an email from Ludwig telling us that they’d like to head back to Mexico earlier than planned. He proposed that we head back to Mexico on the 10th, rather than the 15th as planned. Those of us with motorcycles on the island discussed this on WhatsApp.

    And then a picture my sister asked for. Actually she said I should get a picture of Guantanamo Bay… cough, throttlemeister, cough.


    Actually, I think I could have camped behind this enormous sign, and I gave it a little bit of thought.

    I took this picture quickly.


    I rode through the city of Guantanamo. It was getting late. I hadn’t made any plans for anywhere to stay. Most casas particulares are closed up, and though it’s possible to find one which is open by asking around (if you’re Amit), I thought I’d take my chances with camping somewhere close by.

    No, seriously.
    forgorin, juno, Mcahron and 62 others like this.
  15. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

    Sep 17, 2007
    Okie near Muskogee
    Glad you had a whole lot less trouble than me around there.:lol3 That’s probably the only restricted McDonalds in the World outside of a war zone.
    roadcapDen, Eagletalon and Dirt2007 like this.
  16. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

    Nov 21, 2015
    Saint Simons Island GA
    Does Ludwig ever have any good news? Hey JaimeZ if you happen to ride through Cacocum snap a picture of the railroad station. My grandfather was the chief of that station in the 30s and my mom lived in a detached house. Best of luck and thx for another outstanding update and btw I agree about hustlers. Also try Habana Club Rum.
    roadcapDen, flei and eakins like this.
  17. Vark

    Vark Been here awhile

    Sep 17, 2020
    DC Metro
    That is a fairly drastic change in schedule. That would have you back on the boat today. To us it seems like short notice, but I guess he contacted you on March 31. Maybe you had already seen enough of cuba during covid to know another week or so would be plenty of time?
    eakins, Cal and Animo like this.
  18. Dracula

    Dracula Moto Guzzi jockey Supporter

    Dec 3, 2011
    Your pictures are stunning. I can clearly tell how your photographer eye evolved since beginning of the ride report. The subject topics, the perspective you choose, the framing, it's artistic and perfect. I love it! Developing an eye for storytelling with photography makes someone more sensitive to everything they visit. Thank you!
  19. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

    Feb 11, 2007
    Kaslo BC summer, Yuma AZ winter
    Looks like Jamie is making a bee-line for Cienfuegos. Set sail tomorrow?
  20. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

    Dec 1, 2009
    Playa del Carmen
    I guess you’re coming back to Mexico earlier than planned.

    All good, I have wine, ravioli and 40 gallons of ice cold water waiting for you :thumb