The Furthest South
Long day to La Mula

April 27, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: My days as a billy-goat appear to be numbered. I’ve often thought of myself as having a garbage gut, that I can eat or drink whatever I want with no consequences. Oh, the consequences! I was up all night long dashing back and forth to the WC. It left me pretty worried about what might happen on the road once we started riding.

We had planned to leave bright and early since we knew we were climbing today, but I managed to get an extra hour of sleep since Amanda took pity on me. After breakfast, we loaded up the bikes and were ready to hit the road before 9am. While we were putting everything together, a woman we had met two days earlier (Maria) walked up. She and Amanda spent a few minutes talking, and Maria asked for our address in Canada so that she could write to us. After explaining that we don’t have a home in Canada, Maria left. In talking about it with Amanda later, it seems like we’re pretty quick to put up a “wall” here in Cuba, since most people just want something from us. That didn’t appear to be the case, and perhaps it goes down as a missed opportunity.

The wind here is weird. Yesterday we had a headwind on our way to the coast, so I figured that since we were going the opposite way for much of today that we would have a tailwind. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Headwind all day, including some pretty big gusts on our descent of the Sierra Maestra. I’m getting ahead of myself though; just as we started our climb up the Sierra, I asked Amanda if the dots on the horizon were bicycle tourists, and it turns out it was our friends Lewis and Brandy, who we met in Mexico!

“Wow, you guys have a lot of stuff..”, Lewis remarked as we pulled up alongside them. Heh, I seem to remember saying something along the same lines to him when they stayed with us in Mexico. Lewis and Brandy had bought WalMart bikes in Mexico, flown them here, and had very little in the way of supplies with them. Their plan is to sell them before they leave Cuba. They started riding in Baracoa, and followed the coast in the opposite direction as us.

We couldn’t find any shade to sit down and talk in, but we did end up swapping stories and information back and forth for about an hour on the side of the road. I had an acute attack of Montezuma’s while we were talking and it took a lot out of me. I ended up sitting on the edge of the road, trying to participate in the conversation. As they rode off, I again considered why, since we aren’t in an hurry to get anywhere, didn’t we offer to pedal back the way we came and spend a night with them on the beach somewhere?

I couldn’t work up very much energy at this point, so we cycled a bit up the road and I found some shade and had a lie-down, while Amanda read. She mixed me up an electrolyte drink and that seemed to help my fatigue. We spent the next three hours, riding a series of escalating gradients, Up, flat, up, up, flat, flat, down, up, etc. At one point, probably around lunchtime we stopped in a town with several cafeterias, but all I ended up buying was a shaved ice to try and cool down. Amanda didn’t seem to want anything, and I sure as heck wasn’t hungry; what goes in, threatens to come out!

The climb topped out at about 300m, and even with the heat, it wasn’t that hard. I think we are in store for a couple more days of rolling hills, I just hope that the wind turns a little bit more to the north to help us out. We reached Pilon around 2:30, and checked into our Casa. I’d say that of all of the Casas we have been in, this one is the..dare I say, worst? No windows in the room, it’s hot, even with a fan and A/C, no mini-fridge with beer in it..I dunno, it’s just not what we have come to expect. Hopefully my negotiations with the owner went well, and we’re getting breakfast included in the price tomorrow.

After a shower, and catnap, we went for a long walk through the streets of Pilon. We found a couple of sandwiches to munch on, and bought a couple of beers to help with our thirst, and ended up walking down to the water’s edge. I don’t call it a beach, because, well, there isn’t any sand; just garbage everywhere. I think though, that it is a typical beach in many parts of the world, it’s only resorts and North America where the beaches are cleaned up, isn’t it?

We wrapped up our walk by taking in some field sports across the street. There were some older kids playing football (soccer), some younger ones playing field hockey, a basketball game could be seen in the distance, and quite a few people were watching a baseball game too. It was nice just to sit in the shade and watch all of the action. I still am holding out hope that before our trip is done, Amanda and I will see if we can join in a baseball game.

Amanda writes:
Today was an easy day in terms of the number of kilometres we would cover. We knew it would be just over 40km to Pilon. And while it may seem fast I knew there would be a headwind and I knew we had some climbing. As we left Niquero I suggested we grab some food to store for lunch as I had read another blog post that said there was little to eat enroute. Andrew’s response was to discard my suggestion and said we’d arrive by Noon so it wouldn’t matter.

For the last two days we’ve been left wondering around a town trying to find food in the early afternoon. I was tired of being left hungry every day and more annoyed with Andrew’s complete disregard for my suggestion. Perhaps it’s spending every moment of every day together, but it really seems as though any suggestion or comment I make of late; he will either contradict it or discount it. It’s getting a bit tiresome. And so I didn’t push the food issue or suggest again; pick your battles … right?

Wrong! As I lay here in a Casa Particulares in Pilon at 3:20 p.m. hungry AGAIN, I will now disregard Andrew’s dismissal of my suggestions. Our ride only brought us to Pilon around 3pm and again we’ve haven’t eaten since 8am. My annoyance isn’t solely pointed at him; I’m a smart woman and I know that while his intentions might be good, he doesn’t always know best. Up to this point he has been in charge of pesos used for everyday food from locals and I have been in charge of the CUC to pay for accommodations. At this point I’m going to take my own pesos and purchase food when I see fit. Perhaps a little independence is in need as it relates to our diets. We’ll see how this plays out and at the very least; I won’t be hungry again if I can help it.

Aside from the frustrations of the lack of food, the head wind was quite strong. I knew it would be and was mentally prepared; although Andrew wasn’t expecting it. Apparently he had a different understanding of the wind. The terrain changed as we climbed a mountain and it provided lovely views. It sort of reminded me of the rain forests in Hawaii. Then as we descended from the mountain towards the Sea again, it was super flat and almost like a desert. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s ride.

Today’s Photographs

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The Furthest South
Long day to La Mula