RTW the Jamie Z Way: Yucatan Mexico

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

  1. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    oh they got snakes there:
    upload_2021-4-7_9-30-10.jpeg

    My Spanish wasn’t good enough to bs about the island’s snake population but iirc this one was not poisonous :lol3
    Closer shot of the skin pattern so maybe our resident serpent experts can tell.
    upload_2021-4-7_9-33-0.jpeg

    I camped all over the island and got nothing other than a lot of annoying mosquitoes or other little no see-um biters.
    I remember going by a reptile sanctuary with some alligators right North of Cienfuegos on my way to La Habana but didn’t stop.

    And then again, ignorance is bliss :rofl
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  2. chris4652009

    chris4652009 Been here awhile

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    Finally caught up with this, what an adventure.

    100% along for the ride
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  3. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

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    If that’s the case then Fin better hide his XT.
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  4. TNC

    TNC Candyass Camper

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    LOL!...interesting. From the head and the eyes it looks like it may be some kind of constrictor. Yeah, I was just curious what kind of potentially dangerous or at least annoying wildlife was there. Like you mention, flies and mosquitos seem prevalent everywhere and are usually the worst thing you run into. I've backcountry traveled and even backpacked in places all over the western U.S., and only once did I run into a poisonous snake west of TX...a western midget rattlesnake by the Green River in southern UT. I know they're out there further west, but not in the numbers we have them in TX.
  5. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Yes of course but they don't seem to worry about those? Most have GLONASS too...but that would be good.

    I was warned not to bring mine.
    I think the Cuban military thinks you will be waypoint places you should not and sending those back to the US? Even though a phone can too. It's goofy.

    With a phone and Osmand (OSM basemaps) you have all the navigation you could need.

    Anyway the US has surveillance satellites that can do even more and beyond so it's kinda a goofy cold war spy mentality restriction more than anything. That's Cuba always behind the curve.

    If they see Fin's XT they will take it.
    Surprised he was not asked?
    & that The Stahlratte did not have a befrief on this when you said I'm booking? We sure did to out tour guests.
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  6. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

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    Well, I don't think Cuba has an exclusive lock on being behind the curve. That's the nature of governments everywhere.
    West Virginia still bans radar detectors, last I heard. Is WV somehow exempt from the constitution? Is Fin in any more danger in Cuba than you or I in WV? Closer to ADV riding, in western Canada, logging roads are radio controlled, yet you need a licence to use said radios. There are one lane hills on which a loaded log truck can't stop, so radio communication is crucial. More so as ever more of us venture into the backcountry. Officialdom should be encouraging, not outlawing radio use there. Behind the curve as you say.
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  7. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    Did some checking on the Cuban Aduana website:
    https://d-cuba.com/aduana-de-cuba
    Apparently, a gps unit is allowed under prior authorization:

    Items that need import authorization.
    The Articles that we will mention below require prior authorization by a competent Cuban body or authority.

    If you are traveling as a tourist, you will need to consult with your travel agent or Tour Operator, to carry out the corresponding procedures.

    • Wireless fax machines
    • Telephone boards of all kinds.
    • Devices for data networks “routers” and “switches”
    • Wireless access points such as RLAN and others similar, except WiFi that is regulated by its specific regulatory provision
    • Cordless telephones that operate in bands other than those listed in the First Section
    • Wireless microphones and accessories
    • Radio transmitters of any nature and service (radars, radio beacons, radio links
    • People seekers, broadcasting
    • Equipment for telemetering, remote control and other similar)
    • Radio transceivers (fixed, mobile and personal station equipment (walkie-talkie)
    • Professional radio receivers, (that differ from the domestic radio and television devices indicated in the First Section)
    • Earth stations and transmitting and receiving satellite communications terminals (includes satellite TV receiving stations, satellite dishes, their accessories, and portable or other satellite phones)
    • Equipment destined for the massive diffusion of data, text or voice by wireless means. (from the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications).
    • Satellite Positioning Systems (SPS, GPS) used to determine geographic coordinates at a point, for hydrographic and geodetic purposes (from the National Office of Hydrography and Geodesy).
    • Biological and pharmaceutical products of animal origin and for veterinary use, in accordance with the regulations of the health and veterinary authorities (see details at: http://www.sld.cu/sitios/med-veterinaria/).
    • Copies of flora and fauna or their remains, in any form, according to the regulations of the sanitary and veterinary authorities.
    No mention of cost, but one would think that Ludwig would've advised his clients a ways out from boarding?
    Maybe worthy of another thread in Advrider/trip planning or Regional Forums/Latin America? I'm thinking Cuba isn't the only country with restrictive measures.
    Another interesting read: https://translatingcuba.com/gps-use-in-cuba-increases-despite-its-prohibition/

    Edit......
    Once Jamie has the time, energy and resources to catch up this RR (probably won't happen for a while....) it'll be interesting to read what he has to say about the subject.

    I just realized he's only a week left before loading his bike back onto the Ratte!!
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  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Part 1.

    Screenshot_20210408-184246_Chrome~2.jpg

    https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/fad5-5fe4c-4716/view?homeActive=1&showAll=1&numDays=30

    I had a couple of goals today, my first priority was to find water.

    It’s been hard for me to find food and water in Cuba. It’s not like you can just walk into any corner store and buy a bottle of water. First… there just aren’t corner stores like you are familiar. There are a few convenience-style stores I’ve seen, but many of them are closed due to covid. Besides, even the ones which are open really don’t have anything for sale, except for a few bags of some type of cracker cookie. I don’t know what they are, and they don’t look appetizing, but they seem to be quite popular. Other than a few things, the shelves are empty.

    There are also a handful of private shops, basically people selling stuff from the front room of their house. These aren’t usually marked, and the best way to spot them is to see a few goods displayed in the doorway or on a window sill, and there will usually be a menu board. Sometimes they’re selling fruits or vegetables, or maybe several different types of crackers, or drinks. Usually they don’t have water available.

    In the larger towns I’ve found a store called “Casa del Agua.” I went for the one in Santa Clara and found a line of people waiting.

    20210327_095024~2.jpg

    The store is walk-up only and it appears to sell more than just water. I saw a shelf with liquor bottles, and most people were leaving the shop with bags of what I think is laundry soap. I waited in line for about 30 minutes and bought a 5-liter bottle of water when it was my turn.

    While I waited a lot of these went past. They’re basically three-wheeled cars with a steering wheel and what appeared to be a standard automotive manual transmission.

    20210327_095309~2.jpg

    Most were carrying people in the back on benches.

    I rode through Santa Clara and happened upon a Beatles park. I don’t know anything about this at all. It reminded me a lot of the Beatles park in Arkansas. But I don’t know why this one is here in Cuba.

    20210327_104216~2.jpg

    I went to see one of two prominent statues of Che Guevara in Santa Clara, but the first was behind a closed gate.

    Next I stopped at a significant site in Cuban history. Here, Che and his men derailed a military train preventing their enemy from recieving much-needed supplies.

    20210327_105949~2.jpg

    This event is largely credited as the turning point of the Castro revolution.

    They used this bulldozer in the act.

    20210327_105527~2.jpg

    Normally you can enter the cars to see historical displays, but right now everything is locked up.

    Next I went to the statue of Che out on the main highway. I parked along a side street and walked across the highway to take some photos.

    20210327_112708~2.jpg

    Just a few minutes later a uniformed man approached me and asked me where I was from, and then asked to see some identification. I gave him the card that I had gotten from the Cuban DMV in Cienfuegos, but this didn’t satisfy him, so I gave him my drivers license. I explained that my passport was back with my motorcycle.

    He was rather confused about how or why I was there, asking me several times if I were a tourist and did I rent a car? I had to tell him more than once that I had a motorcycle, and I pointed to it parked across the highway.

    I don’t know why he targeted me. There were several other people walking through the park at any moment. Perhaps it was because I was taking pictures. Or maybe someone saw me on the motorcycle and wanted to check me out.

    He carefully inspected my drivers license and then got on his radio and though I didn’t understand much of what he said, I heard him say and spell my name.

    Then we walked across the highway back under the Che statue where another uniformed man appeared and looked at my license and the Cuban paper I have. He asked me about the numbers on my Colorado license, and I think he was wondering if it was some sort of national identification number. I explained that this was my permit to drive, and if he wanted I could go get my passport.

    He waved his hands, handed back the documents, and told me everything was fine. He seemed genuinely friendly and I almost reached to shake his hand. I did ask if I could take pictures of the statue and the huge surrounding park, and he said it was fine.

    However… just a few minutes later as I walked to the backside of the statue where the (currently closed) mausoleum is located, another uniformed man approached me and told me that I could not park where I had my bike.

    20210327_114959~2.jpg

    I rode back into the city to find something to eat. Here I did see a handful of shops and restaurants which looked like they were open, though for carryout only.

    I found a restaurant and a sharply dressed waiter explained the menu to me and I ordered ropa vieja. They served it to me in a styrofoam container inside a plastic bag, but then he asked me if I wanted to eat it inside.

    20210327_125617~2.jpg

    The dining room was dark and hot, but this was a pretty fancy place. The waiter came to check on me several times and offered a few suggestions of places to visit in Cuba. He also warned me several times not to leave anything on my bike which wasn’t locked.

    This is Yasiel.

    20210327_130932~2.jpg

    After lunch I found an ice cream shop and while I sat on the sidewalk, I liked the scene in front of me.

    20210327_132146~2.jpg

    Now I wanted to see if I could find Orelio.

    To be continued.
  9. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Doing a little catching up:

    I wasn't sure what to expect of Ludwig. His emails are... abrupt. I wasn't sure if he'd be high strung or what... but he's very charismatic. I suppose that's why he's been able to get bikes into Cuba. There's a lot of grease in there.

    I have and will be addressing this in more detail, but this is no longer accurate. Now that the convertible peso (CUC) is gone, people want dollars.

    The crossing ended up taking 84 hours.

    Note that my Spotwalla is connected to my phone, and not a satellite tracking device. My location is only updated with I have WiFi or cellular connection. There may be times when my location isn't updated for long periods. The app I use saves up the points and when I have connection again, it sends all the data to Spotwalla.
    After this trip, I don't know if there will be an easy way to get your bike to Cuba. The Stahlratte was unique, and it's been sold off and won't be making trips in the Caribbean anymore.

    I detailed the importation in a previous post, but basically you have to register it in Cuba. They give you a Cuban number plate and a registration document. No insurance. Fees are reasonable. I think it was about $50 total.

    So far as I know, we can go anywhere... although that said, there are a lot of covid checkpoints right now, and I've been turned away a couple of times, or told I have to go directly to my destination and can't stop.

    I'm avoiding reading Fin's report for the time being, but I'm looking forward to reading what he has to say about Cuba.
    What's the best way to check alignment?

    The 705 tires gave me exactly the same feeling on a completely different bike, and when I switched to other tires, that feeling went away.

    I don't know how Klaus was doing it. There was no WiFi in the marina.

    When I got my SIM card, I had to purchase a data plan, and it's only good for 30 days... Klaus must have some sort of international plan. My US phone did not function at all.
    As it's turning out, stealth camping in Cuba is usually not too hard.

    Hmm... I thought I looked on that side. I'll have a better look when I'm back on the boat.
    I'll definitely have to check that out. I'm in Viñales right now.

    The boat is actually very clean. It could probably use some exterior paint... but really what makes it look bad is a few rust stains.

    There's no question that it's a terrible time to visit Cuba. The entire country is closed up. I had a lot of plans and ideas but I've had to scrap most things because nothing is open.

    But this is presumably the last opportunity to travel here with a motorcycle, at least for the foreseeable future. So... is it worth it? Yes, definitely, but I'll want to come back when I can see and do more.
    Yeah, internet access is fleeting. I have a robust data plan for my phone, but I don't always have a signal, especially when I stealth camp.

    I don't know what the law is. Other reports I've read, people had GPS. Ludwig told us GPS was fine. So I didn't worry about it. The guy asked me if I had a GPS, I showed him my phone and said I had maps on it. Fin and Klaus (and maybe Jorge) have GPS units mounted on their bikes. Nobody said anything. They even brought out the GPS-sniffing dogs.

    Not sure what to say. Thank you for your kind words. Curt and sparse, what a great phrase, and I think it's a good description.

    I haven't had any concerns about prices. I suppose if I were traveling in more touristy spots, there might be more places trying to gouge tourists, but I stay mostly in the smaller towns. Since they got rid of the CUC, all the prices are in CUP, and that's what I use to pay and as far as I know, I pay the same as everyone else.

    Actually I prefer to travel by myself... the "mates" I've met up with are just the other guys from the Stahlratte. Amit and I have run into each other a couple times purely by coincidence, and we split a casa particular for one night. Fin and I were crossing paths and made plans to split a casa.

    Honestly, I have no idea. I recall reading somewhere in my research that there aren't any venomous or other dangerous animals here.

    I've seen a couple of snakes on the road. Goats are everywhere and probably the biggest concern on the road, since they like to dart.

    Mosquitoes have been very tolerable. I've sat outside throughout the evening and there are not a lot of bugs at all. I did pick up a couple of ticks in the woods.

    I finally found some guarapo!

    Yeah, the food at the casas is amazing. They serve enough food for two or three people. I'm not quite sure why they do that. I theorize that they can report the cost of the food, but then keep whatever is left over.

    When I'm not staying at a casa particular, finding a decent meal can be troublesome.

    Thanks for all the comments, questions, and kind words.

    Jamie
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  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    27 marzo 2021

    This is why I'm here.

    Note: this section contains a couple of pictures of a slaughtered farm animal.

    I went back the way I had come and turned onto the 4x4 road which I’d started to follow from the other direction yesterday.

    20210327_150129~2.jpg

    This part of the road was much more steep and rocky. There were a few sections where I stopped to scout ahead of me, and had to ascend and descend a handful of steep, loose hills.

    20210327_151824~2.jpg

    When I got to where Orelio lived, he was standing on the side of the road. I wasn’t entirely sure it was him since I’d only seen him yesterday for a couple of minutes. He opened up the barbed wire gate and invited me to ride my bike over the berm leading to his house.

    I parked along the side.

    20210327_160258~2.jpg

    First thing he introduced me to his wife and his brother-in-law. Then we sat outside and he offered a taste of chirimoya, a fruit which I’ve never heard of.

    20210327_155225~2.jpg

    He climbed the tree and pulled one down which was ripe and gave me a chunk to try. The texture was a bit creamy, like a banana, the flavor was slightly sweet. It reminded me of cheesecake.

    He showed me a couple of his pigs.

    20210327_155904~2.jpg

    ...and then dinner. He’d offered pork and told me they’d kill one of their young pigs for our dinner. He did the job with a knife, stabbing the pig through the heart.

    20210327_162649~2.jpg

    I couldn’t watch, so closed my eyes and snapped pictures. Orelio chided me a bit about my reaction, saying “This is how we get meat.”

    Orelio invited me to help them scrape the hair off the pig. I was hesitant at first, but I couldn’t refuse.

    IMG_20210327_163152~2.jpg

    He and his brother-in-law finished cleaning the pig.

    20210327_163318~2.jpg

    They were building a fire so I walked around to check out the place. Orelio told me the kitchen was severely damaged in a hurricane two years ago.

    20210327_163959~2.jpg

    They have a water station with perpetually running water siphoned from a creek higher on the mountain.

    20210327_161237~2.jpg

    And a living room with concrete floor and some furniture. Behind the camera was a small wooden table.

    20210327_205800~2.jpg

    They have a electricity and a couple of LED lamps hung up, as well as a phone charger.

    Orelio and his brother-in-law tended to the roasting pig.

    20210327_175506~2.jpg

    Orelio led me down the hill to the reservoir below. He told me that sometimes they catch fish in the reservoir with what I think he was describing as gill nets.

    20210327_181156~2.jpg

    They had a Bluetooth speaker and it had a microSD card installed. I asked them if they liked American and other kinds of music, and Orelio’s wife Ayme told me they like all kinds of music. I copied all of my music onto an extra SD card I have and put it in the speaker. So for the rest of the night we listened to Elvis, Beatles, Eminem, Hank Williams, and all the other random songs I’ve collected over the years and compiled for this trip.

    I also shared some beef jerky I had with me from Mexico after I explained to them that my sister has a farm and raises a couple of cattle. They asked about the beef, does she sell it? I said that they sell some and keep some for eating. Orelio told me that Cuban people aren’t allowed beef and mimed handcuffs. They were very curious about the dried meat, and I think they enjoyed it.

    And then the pig was ready. Orelio carried it from the fire to a table where Ayme cut it up and put the meat into a bowl.

    20210327_221908~2.jpg

    I wish I could tell you it was the best pork I’ve ever eaten, but I think it needed a little more time. I don’t think it was undercooked, but it was very tough.

    After dinner I shared a couple of packages of M&M’s. Only Orelio tried some, but he liked them a lot. They put the other package on a shelf.

    We’d stayed up quite late, after midnight. I set up my tent next to my bike and lay awake for a while before falling asleep.
  11. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    This is the best.
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  12. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    Me to.
    Interaction with the locals like this adds “so” much to your ride report Jamie.
    I’m thinking as you call yourself an “introvert” that this took some inner fortitude and I for one, admire you for jumping in the deep end (so to speak)

    Superb RR you’re giving us here.
    Thanks so much.
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  13. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Speechless @Jamie Z. What a truly wonderful experience and interaction. Bob hit the nail on the head, good on ya for the inner fortitude to go visit and enjoy the life these folks carve out for themselves. That's a far cry from buying a couple pork chops in the grocery store and cooking them on the grill.

    Have enjoyed so many of your posts and updates over the course of your trip, but I'm gonna say post 42138639 tops the charts. What an incredible memory to have.

    Knobby side down, look forward to what comes next man.
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  14. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Wonderful post. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
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  15. wetwider

    wetwider Been here awhile

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    Hi Jamie ~ Great report, excellent writing & photography. Thanks!

    Wheel alignment: Maybe it's not an alignment problem, given 705s did the same thing another time, but if suspicious, I've found the easiest way to align a bike is to find a straight-edge (2x4, length of pipe, a long batten or stretch a string) longer than the bike and lay it down pressed against the side of the rear tire so it can't rock side-to-side, the stick extending past the front tire's contact patch. With the front tire pointing straight ahead, measure the distance between the straight-edge and the tire & write it down (or remember it - you're younger than I), then do the same on the other side of the bike, being careful to measure at the same part of the front tire tread, sidewall or rim so the gaps are comparable. If the gaps are different, loosen the rear axle nuts enough to tweak the rear wheel one way and the other until the gaps between front tire & straight-edge are the same (and chain slack is what you want) then tighten the rear wheel axle nuts without letting it move from just about perfect.

    Some bikes have decent alignment/chain slack adjusters but many don't so I seldom rely on those but setting up even the crappy adjusters to help hold the axle position is worth doing to help you keep that alignment while tightening axle nuts. I use never-harden gasket sealer on the threads of adjuster screws to help them stay where I put them, otherwise on some bikes they slack off after awhile.

    Ride on!
  16. Suncoaster

    Suncoaster Long timer Supporter

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    Great report Jamie

    That Chirimoya fruit grows around here in QLD Australia and is known as "Custard Apple".
    It's an introduced species popular in gardens.
  17. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    O. M. G. !!! What an incredible experience to be the honored guest of a family that strives to survive with minimal resources. How could one ever refuse such an invitation to have dinner with them? Of all the memories of your travels thus far, this one will be indelibly etched in your mind forever. I have nothing to add, except to thank you for letting us into your mind and heart through your story telling and photos.
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  18. chris4652009

    chris4652009 Been here awhile

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    Wow what an incredible experience, thank you for sharing
    Jamie Z likes this.
  19. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    28 marzo 2021

    More campo shenanigans.

    Screenshot_20210409-092624_Chrome~2.jpg

    https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/fad5-5fe4c-4716/view?homeActive=1&showAll=1&numDays=30

    When I awoke in the morning, everyone else was already awake.

    20210328_083456~2.jpg

    Ayme had sliced up some leftover pork for breakfast and Orelio readied the horses. He wanted to take me on a ride.

    20210328_103935~2.jpg

    We climbed up and went past the washed out road where I had to turn around yesterday.

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    We turned onto a dense mountainous trail.

    20210328_093759~2.jpg

    Though I’ve ridden horses when I was much younger, I think the last time I was on a horse was around 1991. The horse I rode felt surefooted and responded instantly to my inputs. The jungle was my nemesis and I took a log hard into my shin.

    Orelio led us to a finca growing coffee and bananas. We met a lady there who served us each a cup of coffee and then Orelio led me out to where everything is grown.

    20210328_095924~2.jpg

    He told me the owners would like to sell and he’s hoping to buy it someday. He told me the price is US$1500.

    It’s a large property with concrete buildings. It’s clearly very well taken care of.

    20210328_100825~2.jpg

    We rode back to Orelio’s.

    IMG_20210328_103757~2.jpg

    I asked him if he wanted to ride my bike. We removed the luggage and backed it out of its parking space. Orelio got on; he already knew all the controls. But I don’t think he was ready for the power. When he took off he swerved and fell.

    On second try, he did pretty good.

    20210328_111403~2.jpg

    But I had to go. Before I left, Orelio came out with a container of leftover pork. I gave him the two ratchet straps I’ve been carrying since the Baja ferry crossing.

    We got a group picture before I left.

    20210328_111706~2.jpg

    And then a photo of Orelio and me.

    20210328_111800~2.jpg

    I backtracked a bit to Manicaragua.

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    I went through the town of Fomento, which looks like a lot of Cuban towns.

    20210328_131738~2.jpg

    And the land flattened out.

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    In Cabaiguan, I stopped to see this, what I was almost going to describe as an abandoned amusement park, but then I realized it’s probably not abandoned at all, though it’s currently closed.

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    I stopped in Sancti Spiritus to see the oldest bridge in Cuba.

    20210328_150349~2.jpg

    It was uncomfortably hot here, and I sat under the bridge for a while to rest from the sun.

    I had been looking to buy some bread and water, and had even stopped a few places unsuccessfully, but then I saw a roadside bar. He didn’t have much there. A few bottles of liquor. Some beer. And a handful of bottles of cold water. I bought two liters of water. Looks like my plan for pork sandwiches was out. No bread anywhere.

    The bartender wouldn’t pose for a photo, but told me to stand behind the bar.

    20210328_160024~2.jpg

    A few miles down the road I found a billboard for a photo I’ve wanted to take.

    20210328_161000~2.jpg

    The road continued flat.

    20210328_170331~2.jpg

    I started to look for places to set up my tent. I followed a path through a sugarcane field until it opened up and I found a flat spot.

    20210328_185520~2.jpg

    Looking forward to finishing off that pork, I pulled out the container Orelio had given me earlier. Unfortunately, it didn’t smell great after rolling around in my hot top box all day. I decided against eating it and ate trail mix for dinner.
  20. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv. Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    871
    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Jamie Z,

    Really loving the RR and photography, really interesting when several RRs converge! Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Also, Hope you have a smoother sail back to the mainland!

    Cheers,