Afternoon sun with a bottle of rum, playing cards, and a nap
Rolling to Cienfuegos

May 22, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes:

Time flies when you’re having fun. Having now spent 4 nights here in La Boca, it can also fly when you lounge in a hammock reading, with breaks for snorkelling and meals. This is how we managed to spend time here in La Boca, a quiet fishing town, just south of Trinidad.

We left Sancti Spiritus in the morning on the 19th, and right away we weren’t in a hurry. With 75km or so ahead of us, there just didn’t seem to be much imperative for us to arrive at our destination, which was either going to be Trinidad, or La Boca. We had heard good things about both. On one hand, Trinidad is a UNESCO heritage site, because it has cobblestones and whatnot. On the other, La Boca promised beaches and mountain landscapes, and perhaps a serenity not otherwise found in a major municipal centre like Trinidad. In any event, decisions like this were in the future, and we prefer to live solely in the present. So where were we…oh yes! Riding towards Trinidad!

There comes a point, when riding this route, that you turn a corner and begin descending into the Valle de Los Ingenicos. One of the most beautiful sights of the trip so far. The mountains start to wrap themselves around you, like a cozy, green towel. The land on either side of the road appears fertile, and lush. The riding isn’t hard, just gentle, rolling hills. A sense of serenity may even come over you. It did over Amanda and I.

There is no sign of Trinidad until you are pretty much on top of it. As it happens, there is a short, steep climb (out of the Valle) just before Trinidad, with a “mirador” climbing option of an extra 50m if you are so inclined. Reaching the top of the hill, the Caribbean sea greets you, all sparkling and blue and whatnot.

We cycled around, as in, we did not enter, Trinidad – instead opting to aim for La Boca. Of course, we unknowingly went the wrong way, and after 5km realized our error and returned whence we came, whereupon we rode through Trinidad, and then on to the sleepy fishing hamlet nearby. La Boca features a small beach (playita), and many people were accessing the water just from the side of the road. Casa Particulars are everywhere, and many appeared unoccupied.

We were pretty hot and tired by this point in our journey, so we headed directly to Villa Flerida, which Mika had recommended to us. It looked perfect….on the outside. Inside, there was one thing missing – air conditioning. It’s sort of a deal breaker for us given the heat, especially after riding all day, so Marlene the owner took us to another Casa nearby. It ticked all of the boxes, and we didn’t have the energy to negotiate a better price than $25CUC. Dinner was an astronomical $12CUC each, so after showering and resting for a bit, we set out to find something more within our budget. La Boca has really only one option for eating outside of your Casa, which is a pizzeria and cafeteria all rolled into one, near the middle of the main road. We were able to get a plate of food, fried chicken with the usual Cuban fixings, for $5CUC ($5USD) each. The man behind the counter did a fabulous job of holding the menu firmly, so that we couldn’t see the price in Cuban pesos on the other side, which is usually half the price.

05-20-2015: Early to bed, early to rise, right? Seems like every night we’re getting a solid 10-hours of shuteye. We booked it out of the Casa pretty quickly because of our hunger, and reluctance to pay $5CUC each for breakfast. We’re used to paying $6CUC for the two of us at most other Casas. This area of Cuban seems more expensive for some reason. We talked about staying for another few days, and checked in at some of the Casas on the main road. They ranged in price from $25-30CUC each, which we didn’t understand since so many of them were vacant. For breakfast, we returned to Villa Flerida, and Marlene made us breakfast for $6CUC. She is such a nice lady, we decided that we could live without air conditioning for a few days, and negotiated a rate for a room, and dinner.

Then it was off to Playa Ancon, a popular beach about 8km away. What a ripoff! There are all of these nice little playitas on the way there, each one with a man “guarding” it, collecting money from the beach users. Even at Playa Ancon itself, which is anchored by 4 all-inclusive resorts, we were expected to pay $1CUC each, just to park our bicycles, since they aren’t allowed on the beach proper. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for parking. It seems too much like something I do in the city, when I want to drive to a hockey game or something…On the way back into La Boca, we stumbled upon a beer garden which had a “dispensada”, or beer on tap. At only 6 pesos each ($0.30CDN) for a glass, this seemed like a decent place to spend the afternoon. We shared a couple of drinks with a Romanian photographer, here in Cuba working on an article for National Geographic – Julien.

05-21-2015: Today, we rode the short distance into Trinidad. Many of the streets are cobble-stones, and the city definitely feels old, but every second store is selling post-cards, Cuban flags, and other curios, and it feels very “touristy”. I didn’t much care for it. Many people shouting, “My friend!” and trying to sell themselves, or their services to us as we walk by. No one seems to comprehend that despite being on bicycles, we do NOT need a taxi! All of a sudden, we hear some yelling and we are assaulted by high-fives and hugs. It’s our German friends from Guardalavaca!

I feel a little badly that I don’t remember your names dear Germans. Still, it was nice to play catch up with you over drinks at a nearby cafe. I hope that the rest of your trip to Cuba is fun and exciting.

The rest of Trinidad is a bit of a blur. We decided to try and find lunch *in* Trinidad, since the food options in La Boca are so limited. We found a kick-ass pizzeria, where I had just cheese and onions, and the nice woman also offered me some home-made hot sauce. Heaven! I ended up getting a second one, it was so good!

05-22-2015: The days start to blur together when all you do is read, snorkel, drink, hold a cigar, and read. Lots of reading! I’m reading a book almost every day here in La Boca. Amanda has almost run out of books on her Kindle and has resorted to reading, like, a real book that she found here in the Casa. After lunch, Amanda and I played cards, interrupted every so often to go and fill a 1.5L bottle with beer from down the street for 30 pesos ($1.05CDN). Every afternoon here also brings a thunder and lightning show, usually over the nearby mountains, and sometimes, even a drop or two of rain for a few minutes. Then the sunsets here are really nice too and remind me of a Vancouver sunset, the way that the sun dips below the mountains as the day ends. Our day today finished playing dominoes with Tito and Marlene, the Casa owners.

Today’s Photographs

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Afternoon sun with a bottle of rum, playing cards, and a nap
Rolling to Cienfuegos