Salsa in Santiago de Cuba
Lots of Lomas

May 4, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: Today was really pretty, by all accounts, the prettiest ride thus far. What made it for me were all of the stunning vistas, with the entire countryside spread out around us.

We started the day with a bit of a late start, especially considering how much distance we had hoped to cover, but we made it out of Santiago without much fuss. Along the way, we enjoyed street-food for breakfast, which has been a change the last few days as the Casa didn’t offer any. So we’re riding along in Santiago’s version of Monday morning madness, and it was a little mad, for sure, but once we got to the Autopista, there was very little traffic.

Going east out of town, there is a 15km long hill to climb. which took up 2 hours of our day. Along the way we stopped at a fruit stand and picked up a bunch of pineapples for $0.20 pesos ($0.75CDN). These would come in handy throughout the day as snacks. The hill was manageable, and we had a whole lane to ourselves pretty much, and the trucks that did pass were full of guys shouting words of encouragement for us.

Car pooling is in full force here in Cuba. Pretty much every vehicle on the road is jam packed full of people. Hordes more sit and wait patiently on the side of the road, a fistful of pesos in the hand, ready to wave down the next passing car, truck, taxi, tanker, bus, or bicycle.

So now we’re at the top of this mountain range….that’s cool. Then we sort of rode along the ridgeline for a bit. Then we climbed up and over another mountain; next we white-knuckled it into a tunnel, THROUGH a mountain. Maybe we went down a bit, I’m not sure, these moments were brief, all I remember was a lot of climbing up, over, around, through, and next to mountains. I’m not complaining though; the climbs were all manageable. Each one brought a change of scenery, either a new valley, or plain, or river, or town.

We stopped just outside of Yerra de Guinea for lunch at a roadside cafe. The woman seemed to indicate she would only cook fried chicken with french fries; and that it would take awhile. No hay problema! We sat at a table with our books and relaxed with a couple of icy, cold kolas. The lunch was really tasty and we finished it off with a pineapple for dessert.

The afternoon is a bit of a haze for me because, truth be told, long days like this really take it out of me. I remember Amanda mentioning that it looked like my rear rack on my bicycle was moving around a bit and that maybe I had a loose bolt. For the two days previous she had mentioned she thought the rack was bent or had shifted to one side from the pressure of my kite board. Later on when we got to our Casa in Guantanamo, I confirmed the worst; the bolt had sheared off. No hay problema! The Casa owner arranged for someone to pickup my bike, take it to a mechanic, and fix it; all while Amanda and I went out for dinner. $5CUC ($5USD) later, and after a great meal at a municipal pizzeria, it was fixed.

The “municipal” pizzeria that we went to is basically a government-owned restaurant that subsidizes the prices for low-income Cubans, but provides the….amenities?…of a restaurant. Whatever, we just wanted good, cheap food. It delivered on both fronts! Amanda had a bowl of spaghetti with mortadella (bologna?) and a “salami” pizza, while I had two “salami” pizzas. I’m pretty sure that the “salami” was cut up hot-dog.
That happens a lot here in Cuba. Throw in a 2L pop for me, and two beers for Amanda to the mix and for about $2CDN call it a meal!

One area that Amanda and I are still having some trouble with is what I’m starting to think is two captains trying to steer the boat. Yes, we’re a team. Yes, we’re in love. Yes, we work together….BUT…quite often we butt-heads when we each want to make a decision for the two of us. This can be something simple like where or WHEN to stop for lunch, although I think it mostly happens in more populated areas like cities, at the beginning or end of a day. Larger towns can be stressful, so I’m sure that this only adds to the frustration. Hopefully we can continue to work on finding a solution so that we can both finish the day smiling, instead of growling at one another.

That’s all for now! I think tomorrow’s ride has us heading to the beach!!

Today’s Photographs

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Salsa in Santiago de Cuba
Lots of Lomas