Ch'ill'in near Chivirico
Salsa in Santiago de Cuba

May 1, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: The road had actually been in very good condition, since two days before when we cycled through Ulvero; nice, new asphalt. The thermometer read 23C when we left the Casa, shortly after 8am, and my hopes were high to reach Santiago de Cuba in record time. Maybe it was less a feeling of getting there quickly, and more of a yearning to have a nice ride today. My wish was granted; the ride was fantastic!

The terrain was flat, with maybe 3 hills, only one of any difficulty. The cool air meant that there was little headwind, and in fact, as the day wore on, we ended up with a nice tailwind pushing us into Santiago de Cuba. Just after we had left the Casa, a peloton of about 50 cyclists went past us, heading towards Chivirico. They passed us going the other way 2 hours later, and Amanda and I pedalled for all that we were worth to try and latch onto the back of the “train”.

There were two cyclists who were lagging behind a bit. They had fallen on the road, during a rain shower which hit them in Chivirico. We rode with them, sheltering from the wind in front, cruising along at nearly 30km/h, despite our significant weight differences (our 50kg to their 10kg bikes). They were happy to take the time to talk to us, perhaps to take their mind off of the pain their bodies were feeling. There is such a nice feeling about riding with people, even strangers, it’s like when we’re riding bikes, everyone is best friends! After 10km of this, they took off, and we continued into Santiago de Cuba.

It was a national holiday, known as “Primera de Mayo”, and it is a celebration for the “workers”. So it came as little surprise, that as we rode into the city, the main road in front of us was blocked by thousands of people. We managed to find a way around them, and began navigating the narrow, hilly, exhaust-filled streets towards the Centro, where we hoped to find a Casa Particular. We had heard from several other cyclists that Santiago was a bit hellish to cycle through, but I found it very much the same as any other city, with the exception that as cyclists, we were treated really well. In trying to find the Casa that Brandy and Lewis had stayed at the week before, we ended up at another place entirely, just down the street. The price was right, $20CUC ($23CDN), and although breakfast wasn’t offered, we knew that we could find something from a cafeteria for pennies just down the street when we wanted to.

We went for a walk after getting settled in and found a nice little pizza parlour to eat at. While we were eating dinner, the power went out in the block, and so the restaurant closed for the night, but thankfully not before we were finished our meal. Next we walked across the street to “La Arboleda” which is basically an ice-cream palace. There were HUGE lineups at several of the kiosks, as basically you could get a big scoop of ice cream for half a peso ($0.025CDN) and people were filling cups, bowls, and buckets with chocolate ice cream and eating it all up on the spot. People here are just crazy for their ice cream! Of course, like suckers, we ended up going inside the ice-cream “cathedral” and ordered and paid in $CUC, so our ice cream was 100x more expensive, but still just as good. It was a great way to finish up our first night in Santiago de Cuba.


Today’s Photographs

No photos
Ch'ill'in near Chivirico
Salsa in Santiago de Cuba