29 October - Montego Bay, Jamaica
– Havana, Cuba - By plane
I did not have much to do before
departing as the bike was already in the box. Besides the
backpack with my camera lenses, laptop and other electronic
stuff; I only had one bag with my other stuff.
I took a taxi to the airport
(which was hardly five kilometres from the hotel) and was
surprised to find a wrapping service (which I was happy about).
I had the bike box wrapped just in case all the duct type did
not hold. Then it was off to Panama where I had a connecting
flight to Havana.
Right from the start Cuba was
going to be completely different. The first thing I noticed was
that the plane was nearly empty, quite a rarity in this day and
age!! I spread out and had a little snooze before descending
into Cuba. Approaching Cuba, I witnessed the most stunning
sunset and below me I could see well-organized farmlands
stretching as far as the eye could see (I guess they were
Clearing customs and immigration
was exceptionally easy. I took a taxi to “Hostal Peregrino”
which was situated in an old building in Centro Havana. You can
imagine my surprise when I rang the bell and a key, tied to a
piece of string, was lowered from the window above!! They did
not receive my email and all their rooms were full; fortunately,
their neighbour still had a room. It was, in fact, more
convenient with the bike. It was a lovely family but,
unfortunately, they spoke limited English. The room was really
comfortable with a fan, air-con, private bathroom and even a
little bar fridge!
The most confusing was the Cuban
money. Cuba has two currencies; CUC (1 CUC = 1 US$) and pesos (Moneda
Nacional MN) (1 CUC = 25 pesos). Both the room price and the
taxi fare were quoted in CUC, so I guess tourists will always be
quoted in CUC.
30 - 31 October - Havana
After a breakfast of fruit and
scrambled eggs I set off to explore Havana, which is not known
as Havana in Cuba, but referred to as “La Habana”. As always, I
was surprised at what I saw, as not everything the media reports
is quite accurate.
The 50-year old American trade
embargo is still in place, but that does not mean that Cuba does
not trade with other countries. There was a fair amount of new
vehicles on the road; in fact, the taxi I took from the airport
was a brand new Toyota van. Most of the cars on the road,
however, date back to the 1960’s. Or at least that is what it
looks like. Not all buildings are old and falling apart either,
but they are by far the most photogenic and one, therefore, gets
the idea that the whole country looks like that (which it kind
I set off by foot to explore the
old part and what a glorious area it was. Gracious old
buildings, many already restored, lined the streets. I could not
resist and had to drive along the Malecon sea drive in an old
convertible just for the hell of it!! All that was missing was a
bottle of rum!!
The following day I did very much
the same, just in a different part. There was so much to see
that one can easily spend a good few days in Havana alone. I
walked past colourful cigar chewing ladies, past horse carts and
bicycle taxis (and they are not only for the tourists). I passed
the most realistic human statue I have ever seen; what made it
worse was that he was right next to a real statue that looked
identical. It was only once someone put money in his collection
box that he moved and I realized he was human!!
Along narrow lanes, where front
doors lead directly onto the pavement and where salsa music
emanates from every doorway. Music, dance, and art are
everywhere in Havana and it seems that just about everyone can
play an instrument. It is such a voluptuous city.
At sunset I headed for the
waterfront, took a few pics and then had a bite to eat. I was
keen to get going and planned on returning to Havana a few days
before my flight out of Cuba so I could explore more of this
1 November - Havana – Bahia
Honda - 132 km
It was not a very exciting day on
the road, but it was good to be back on the bike after nearly
ten days of doing nothing. I was into the wind, which made the
going slow, but it kept me cool at the same time.
Although the map indicated that I
was on the “autopista” the road was in poor condition and the
going slow. I passed farmlands where farmers were still using
the ox to pull the plough, and the horse and cart was still in
every day use. The Amish will feel quite at home in Cuba. Along
the way I stopped at a “panaderia”, bought a few freshly baked
rolls for the road and nibbled on them as I snaked along narrow
In Bahia Honda I found a
“Hospedaje” with Beysi and her family, a real treat. They fed me
and in my broken Spanish we communicated - me trying to let them
know where I’m from and where I’m going.
2 - 3 November - Bahia Honda –
Vinales - 85 km
After a healthy breakfast of
fruit juice, fruit, coffee, egg and bread I left my friendly
family. I bounced along a back road, together with cigar chewing
locals riding their horse carts and ox wagons. Again it was slow
going due to the poor conditions and the road slowly led uphill
along the Vinales valley. The valley was a fertile one and I
cycled past numerous fruit stalls and was offered papaya juice
at one and pineapple at another, none of which I refused. I
cycled on past tobacco plantations and large limestone karsts
until I eventually reached Vinales.
Vinales was rather touristy with
literally 100’s of places advertising rooms to let and nearly
the same amount of restaurants; quite a feat for such a small
settlement. The reason people come to Vinales is to visit the
nearby National Park, as well as the valley which has been
declared a UNESCO site. It is said that a 100 million years ago,
underground rivers ate away at the limestone bedrock, creating
vast caverns. Eventually the roof collapsed leaving only the
eroded walls we see today.
It was easy to find a room and it
was a rather large and comfortable one. The establishment also
had a restaurant and that night I had the most delicious plate
of vegetable soup (and of course a “Cristal”, the local beer). I
soon crawled into my bed knowing that I did not have to get up
early as I planned on staying in Vinales the following day. I
fell asleep with a salsa beat in the far off distance.
The following day, I visited the
nearby cave as well as a tobacco farm where some of Cuba’s
finest cigars are still hand rolled. It was an interesting cave,
which was apparently an ancient indigenous dwelling. One walked
along for a while and then came at an underground river where
there were motorboats to take you the rest of the way.
I found an internet café and
quickly uploaded a few pics before I fell too far behind. The
internet was rather expensive but far worse was the long queue
waiting for the only seven machines in town. By the time it was
my turn it was already late and before I could finish the lady
told me that they were closing and I had to come back in the
I think the most frustrating
thing in Cuba (besides the long queue for the internet) was the
hissing sound from the touts! They hiss like snakes when they
want your attention and I found it rather annoying.
4 November - Vinales – San
Cristobal - 110 km
I left my comfortable abode and
headed in an easterly direction, not quite sure where I wanted
to go. I followed the road and again it was not terribly
interesting. There was no reason to stop so I continued on until
I reached San Cristobal. I was into the wind all day and was
happy to reach this tiny village. I asked around for a room and,
sure enough, there was one to have. It had a mirror on the
ceiling so I guessed it was not a room meant for a single
It was, however, a typical Cuban
family with trinkets displayed in the cabinet, and photos in old
frames hanging askew on the wall. The Cubans appear to have the
same family values as the South Americans. Family members and
friends are constantly popping in for a visit and there seems to
be an endless flow of comings and goings. It is also rather
rural and there always seems to be a cock crowing and a dog
barking in the distance.
5 November - San Christobal – San
Antonio de los Banos - 85 km
It is said that 24% of the
population is of mixed race, 65% white, 10% black and 1 % Asian.
I wonder if that is correct as I did not see that many “white”
people in Cuba. I guess one can fill anything in on the census
form; no one is going to check it. Many of the so called “white”
people are, obviously, from Spanish decent and a large number
were French immigrants who came to Cuba in the early part of the
19th century. Even so, I found it surprising to see blond
haired women in these tiny villages, they look so out of place.
That could also be because I have just come from Jamaica.
I cycled along past small
villages where people went about their daily business. In the
villages there were numerous hole-in-the-wall type shops selling
bread rolls, juice or pizzas, all for just a few pesos.
I was heading for Batabane where
one could get a ferry to the nearby Isla de la Juventud. I heard
that the diving was very good off the west coast of the island
and I was keen to see for myself. Halfway through the day I
learned that it could be really difficult to get a ferry ticket
in Batabane as they were mostly sold out in Havana (as a
bus-and-boat combo ticket).
At Guira de Melena, I changed my
mind and headed the 13 kilometres north to San Antonio instead.
There were a few interesting things to see in San Antonio but
somehow I missed the town and landed up at a hotel which was
situated on the highway just outside of town. I did not mind and
decided to stay there for the night. I had a lovely meal in
their restaurant and, upon returning to my room, I switched on
the TV and found the only English channel showing the American
election. What a circus!! The Cubans must be watching this and
thanking their lucky stars they don’t have to go through
something like that……maybe that is exactly the reason why they
are showing it… LOL.
6 November - San Antonio de los
Banos – Nueva Paz - 90 km app
The days were slowly getting a
rhythm of their own as I cycled up and down the hills, through
the countryside and past tiny settlements all (seemingly) very
identical with horse carts, hole-in-the-wall pastry shops, the
odd peso pizza joint and “refrescos” stands where I could fill
my bottle with juice for a mere 3 pesos.
Towards the end of the day, I
reached Nueva Paz and could not see anything other than tiny
Nueva Paz on the map. To the surprise of the locals I cycled
into their tiny village looking for a casa. I was more surprised
than the locals as I found the town to be in the midst of a
local festival. I was not quite sure what it was all about but
the only two places that had signs up for rooms to rent were
full (due to the festival!!).
A local family offered me one of
their rooms and it was quite a novelty staying with them. Most
of the other “Casa Particulars” or home-stays I have been
staying at were set up for travellers and it was mostly a
separate room with en-suite bathroom – all very luxurious when
compared to normal family life in Cuba. Staying in a local home
was something totally different. Firstly, someone had to give up
their bed for me, and there was not much privacy as the room had
two entrances. The one was blocked off with a curtain and led to
the dining room. The other opening led to the lounge/kitchen
area and it had a kind of rickety concertina door. No toilet
paper, like when it is set up for travellers, just good ol’
newspaper. The shower was a bucket shower which was all I
needed. A meal was prepared for me and it was enough to feed an
army! I did my best but still they were surprised that I did not
eat more. They first fed me and then they ate. I hoped that that
was not the only food they had.
It was an interesting family
consisting of a mom, dad, grandmother (which had to be taken
care of) and a daughter who was a midget. Now, I mention this as
I was surprised to see at least three midgets in Jamaica (which
I thought was a lot for such a small island) and I was starting
to think that there was a midget gene it that part of the world
(if there is such a thing). The family was great and, again, I
was sorry that I could not speak Spanish. I could tell them
where I was from and what I was doing and took out my map to
show them where I have cycled. They were stunned that one could
do all that on a bicycle (sometimes I’m equally as stunned!!).
I was obviously given the
daughter’s room (by the way, it was a normal size bed (LOL); it
was just the mirror that was a bit tricky) as she came to tell
me that I could use her soap, powder and other cosmetics - so
sweet!!! She looked so proud that she had all those things. Any
cosmetic stuff, including soap and creams are very hard to come
by in Cuba. Beggars don’t ask for money but for soap and cream.
7-8 November - Nueva Paz – Playa
Larga - 100 app km
It was a much easier day on the
road as I was on the highway and the road was in a much better
state. Again there was not much happening along the way, except
for a few restaurants which made a welcome distraction.
Eventually, I stuck the iPod on my ears and turned off for Playa
Larga was one of the two beaches
invaded by US-backed exiles in April 1961 and all along the road
one could see many monuments and signboards keeping memories of
the revolution alive. There were loads of “Casa Particulars”
lining the shore and I had no difficulty in finding a room for
the night. The casa also provided food and it was not necessary
to move one step; all I had to do was sit on the veranda,
watching the bay.
The following morning I did a bit
of laundry and then set off in search of a shop that would sell
hair stuff as I lost my comb!! Instead, I found the diving shop
and was just in time to join them on two dives. I teamed up with
two very pleasant and experienced divers, so off we went into
the crystal clear waters of the “Bay of Pigs”. It was two
wonderful dives and I was (as always) very pleased that I went.
It was an easy shore entry. About 30 metres off shore was a huge
drop-off which I understand goes down to a depth of 300 metres.
The visibility was crystal clear and it was exciting to suddenly
peer off the edge, into the abyss!! Fantastic stuff………and all
that for CUC25!!!
Interestingly enough, the Bay of
Pigs (also known as “the Bay of Pigs fiasco”) has an interesting
history. It is here that mighty America tried to invade tiny
Cuba in 1961. I understand that 1400 strong CIA-trained men,
financed by a US$13 million military budget landed in Playa
Giron intending to wipe out the Cuban Air Force. Castro had been
forewarned and had moved his Air Force the previous week
already. To make matters worse, the Cubans sunk the two US
supply ships leaving 1400 men stranded on the beach. The US
government did not come to rescue the poor stranded soldiers,
114 were killed and the remainder captured and traded for US53$
million worth of food and medicine. A real David and Goliath
tale, if you ask me!!
9 November - Playa Larga – Playa
Giron - 34 km
At my casa, I met two cyclists
who had just come from Cienfuegos. They informed me that they
took the coastal road, a much shorter road between Cienfuegos
and Playa Larga than the main road, but in the process they had
15 punctures between the two of them!! I, there and then,
decided to take the roundabout way (approx. 130 kilometres). I
was in no hurry so slowly cycled along the coast to Playa Giron
where I booked into an “all inclusive” resort for CUC42.
Although that was much more than the CUC20 in “Casa Particular”,
it really included everything!! Three meals and all drinks from
beer to cocktails!!
It was a real strange place,
about the size of a small village, right on the beach but very
neglected. Only a few bungalows were occupied, the lawn was
knee-high and hardly anything was in working order. The food,
however, was great and consisted of a buffet for lunch, dinner
and breakfast; the problem being that one can only eat until you
had enough!! I did, however, enjoy two very nice cocktails which
made up for the lack of other facilities.
10 November - Playa Giron –
Cienfuegos - 70 km app.
The signboards indicated that it
was 94 kilometres to Cienfuegos. It was a low-lying and swampy
area; the road was in reasonable condition and the going,
therefore, easy. Every now and again I had to give way to herds
of cows or cycle on the opposite side of the road as half the
road was used for the drying of rice or wheat. My odometer was
not working, but I guess I travelled about 40 kilometres before
reaching a new road which indicated that Cienfuegos was only 30
kilometres to go. I’m always happy about a shortcut and I
reached Cienfuegos in good time.
As always, there were a good few
people trying to get you to stay at their “Casa Particular” and
I was happy to give them a bit of business. The prices were all
identical and the accommodation very much the same. The lady
where I decided to bunk down for the night looked really pleased
that she had a guest and she went out of her way to put the bike
away and make things as comfortable as possible for me.
I took a walk along the
waterfront and around the central plaza which were both hives of
activities. On my walk, I met Jenn and Jeff from Canada (who
were also traveling by bicycle). They saw me in Vinales and
recognized me. I am so impressed with people who can recognize
one off the bike without the disguise of a cap and shades!! Very
observant of them! We chatted for a while and then continued on
our respective ways again.
11 - 12 November - Cienfuegos –
Trinidad - 80 km app
I woke to the clip-clop of horses
in the street, had a hearty breakfast and then was on the road
to Trinidad. At first it was a bit hilly but as soon as I
reached the coast it levelled out and it was a nice ride past
lovely looking beaches and bays.
I meet the nicest people along
the way. This day was no different and I stopped and chatted for
a while to a couple from Switzerland (if I remember correctly)
before continuing on again.
Trinidad (now a UNESCO world
heritage site) was packed with tourists and tour buses. The
narrow cobblestoned streets could hardly accommodate all the
busses, bicycle taxis, and horse carts. Again there were
hundreds of “Casa Particulars” to choose from and soon I was
settled in a nice roomy house with a great veranda leading to an
A quick shower and I was
strolling, camera in hand, like all the other tourists down the
narrow lanes of this 500-year old Spanish colonial settlement.
The next morning I woke early and
could hear old men peddle their wares from bicycles in the
street outside. In a sing-song way, they announced whatever it
was they had for sale.
13 -14 November - Trinidad –
Sancti Spiritus - 70 km
The road followed the “Valle de
los Ingenios” where sugar was grown in the earlier years. Today
one can still see some of the old sugar mills, slave quarters
and manor houses of this rather brutal era. I stopped at the
“Manaca Iznaga” where there was a 44-metre high tower used to
watch the slaves. There were so many tour busses that I did not
even climb to the top; I just took a few pics and left again.
There were quite a few places of interest but after my first
experience I did not stop and kept going.
Sancti Spiritus turned out to be
a rather nice place. It was somewhat smaller than Trinidad, but
it had many lovely old buildings from the colonial era. As there
were less of them than in Trinidad just about all of them were
renovated and it was a peaceful little village.
That night I came down with a
stomach bug and spent most of the night hanging over the toilet
bowl. By the time daylight broke I was weak and very tired. I
stayed in bed and slowly felt better. By lunch time I could
face a cup of tea and a plate of fruit. Fortunately, Hostal
Paraiso, where I stayed, was very comfortable and the owners
15 November - Sancti Spiritus –
Ciego de Avila - 76 km
I felt a whole lot better and
although still a bit weak (seeing that all I ate the previous
day was a plate of fruit), I packed up and cycled the short
distance to Ciego de Avila. I was slightly into the wind but
caught the slipstream of a horse cart and slowly we headed
towards my destination. I stopped to fill up with water and
thought I lost them but soon caught up to them again. They
looked happy to see me (laughing and waving) - it was like
meeting an old friend!! Ciego de Avila was a tiny little place
with a few old historical buildings. I took a room in the hotel
which was old and in need of some TLC. Although there was no hot
water one could not beat the price.
That evening I took a walk in the
cooler night air and I passed the local theatre which was
packed; it must have been a really good show. The coolest,
however, was that people still took a horse and cart taxi to the
theatre and home after the show. How very cool!!!
I was still not feeling a 100%
but knew I had to eat something. I got myself a 5 peso pizza,
which, as the price can tell you, it was not very much (US$1 –
16 November - Ciego de Avila –
Moron - 40 km
Although I still felt tired, I
packed up and cycled north to Moron, a small town en route to
Cayo Coco. I had no intentions of going to Cayo Coco as I
understand it is packed with all-inclusive resorts. Along the
way, it started raining and it did not look like the typical
30-minute storm. By the time I arrived in Moron I was dripping
wet and decided to stay there for the night. There were a
surprisingly large amount of “Casa Particulars”, all looking
The town was a typical Cuban town
with a main road lined with old colonial buildings, a central
plaza, and a few hole-in-the-wall eateries. It had a rather
grand looking railway station which was built in 1923, complete
with horse carriages waiting outside to pick up passengers; I
could have sworn it was still 1923. I walked along the
candy-coloured colonnaded pavement, listening to the music
coming from the open doorways. Old bicycles were leaning
haphazardly against the wall and yes, there were still
pay-phones mounted on the wall. It was truly like they were
caught in a time warp.
As evening came people put their
chairs outside their doorways and watched the kids play in the
street while chatting to their neighbours. What a social bunch
the Cubans are; I’m sure it is because they don’t have internet.
Street venders magically appeared selling cake and popcorn – one
can’t fault with a country where cake is considered street
17 November - Moron – San Jose
del Largo - 60 km app
I turned my bike in the direction
of Havana, and although I still had a good few days left in Cuba
it was time to slowly move in the direction of Havana. I read
that there was a “spa” at San Jose and went in search of the
It was a nice ride with a slight
tailwind and soon I arrived at San Jose del Largo. The place was
a bit dilapidated as most of these type places appeared to be. I
did, however, spend a good hour in the bath which was a large
undercover one. The pool appeared to be built right over the eye
of the spring and had a sandy bottom where one could see the
water bubbling up like a tiny volcano.
I also met two Canadian cyclists
cycling around Cuba. We chatted away about our cycling trips.
They have been on the road for a year and plan to cycle for at
least one more year. We had a meal together and shared a bottle
of wine, compliments of my hosts.
18 November - San Jose del Largo
– Remedios - 70 km
It was easy riding to Remedios
and it seemed as if I was finally better again after my stomach
bug. I reached Remedios in good time and, as there were a few
things to see, I got myself a room right next to the central
plaza. In hindsight it was a mistake, as there was not much to
do in this tiny little village, except for the few old buildings
around the square.
I had so much time on my hands
that I spent some time on the internet before having a bite to
eat. After that, there was truly nothing to do but to retire to
my room. I did a bit of laundry which also seemed to be a
mistake as it started raining in the night and nothing was quite
dry in the morning.
19 November - Remedios – Quemado
de Guines - 110 km app
I rolled up my half wet laundry
and headed south. The intention was to go to Santa Martha, but I
could not face another touristy town so turned off the main road
and headed along the coast. Halfway I was kind of sorry I did
not go to Santa Martha as it started raining, and it rained and
it rained! In fact, it rained the entire day! Fortunately, it
was not cold but still wet and irritating as the water could not
drain fast enough and the road became a mini river. There was no
reason or place to stop so I continued on until I reached the
only place that looked like it could have a room for rent.
People pointed me to the “hotel” but although it was a hotel it
had no rooms, just a restaurant.
In the bucketing rain, and
sloshing through ankle deep water, I found a room but, as it was
rented by the hour, I had to wait for the occupants to finish.
In the meantime, I went to the restaurant as I was starving and
upon my return the room was available. I hung out my wet clothes
and was happy to get into something dry. There was truly nothing
to do, the TV only had one channel (and I had no use for the
condoms) so it was an early night for me.
20 November - Quemado de Guines –
Hotel Elguea and spa - 60 km
As my abode was at an hourly
joint, there was no breakfast included but they gave me coffee
and a few bananas before I left. Again it rained the entire way
and when I reached the turn off for a hot spring, I did not
think twice before turning off and headed the eight kilometres
down the road.
I arrived soaked to the bone and,
as always with the government-run hotels, it was huge but there
was hardly anyone there. The goats were roaming around the
garden as I pulled in and they looked quite surprised that
someone was disturbing their peace.
The room was huge and comfortable
so I could not complain. The thermal baths were in a separate
building and quite hot (approx. 50ᵒC). I was hungry and the
restaurant prices reasonable so I had lunch before going for a
bath. I had a short soak as it was a bit too hot for me.
Again there was nothing to do;
the TV at least had more than one channel but nothing in
English. I repacked my bags, had a beer or two and soon it was
time for my evening meal. This time there were a few more people
as it seemed that some of the workers from the electrical
company were doing work in the area and stayed overnight at the
hotel. Although there was a menu I think there was just one
choice, which was very similar to lunch, just chicken instead of
beef, everything else was identical.
I read that according to local
legend, a slave who had contracted a serious skin disease was
banished by his owner to what is known as Banos de Elguea. Later
the man returned completely cured. His master believed him and a
bathhouse was built at the spot.
21 November - Hotel Elguea and
spa – Varadero - 110 km
It rained throughout the night
but, fortunately, by morning it had cleared. It was easy riding
as I had a slight tailwind and although the road was still
flooded in places it never rained. I reached touristy Varadero
in good time and as there were more than 50 hotels and just as
many casa particulars I had no problem in finding a bed for the
After a quick shower, I went in
search of food. The weather had not quite cleared and on my way
back it started raining again. I was only 140 kilometres from
Havana and was hoping that the weather would be kind to me for
the next day or two.
22 November - Valadero – Playa
Hermosa - 120 km
To my dismay I woke, not to the
tip-tip of rain drops on the roof, but to the rain streaming
down, more like someone left the tap open. I carefully packed
everything back into the panniers, making sure that all will
make it through yet another rainy day. By the time I cycled to
the corner shop for a cup of coffee and the (by now) ever
familiar toasted ham and cheese sandwich, the rain had stopped.
I picked up a nice tail wind and
it was an easy ride in the direction of Havana. Along the way, I
met a local cyclist out for a practice ride and he was quite
taken that I was cycling from Valadero to Havana in one day. I
also caught up to two cyclists from the Netherlands, who was on
holiday in Cuba. It was only their second day and they were
taking it easy. We chatted as we cycled along and as they were
looking for a casa in Playas del Este, I followed suit. In the
dying moments of the day it started spitting again and I was
happy to call it a day. I would do the last 20 kilometres the
Villa Playa Hemosa was not much
of a Villa but was cheap at CUC13 per person. My room had no hot
water and although there was a TV it did not work. The place was
obviously popular with locals from Habana as the music was going
ten to a dozen and the other guests were already far into their
rum by the time I arrived.
23-25 November - Playa Hermosa –
Havana - 25 km
It was a short ride into Havana
and fortunately it did not rain. On my arrival at my Casa
Particular, I was told that they were full. I think there was a
misunderstanding as I booked for the 24th and 25th (I was one
day early and could find a room for that night, no problem) but
as I understood they were also full for the days I booked on. I
was a bit pissed off about that as they pointed me across the
road where there was a room available on the 3rd floor (highly
inconvenient). I left my bike box with them and that would have
meant that I now had to haul bike and box three floors up the
Then, somehow, things got cleared
up when I showed them in their own book that I booked. All’s
well that ends well, they say!! I had two days in Havana to
repack my bags and bike for the rather long and roundabout
flight to Africa.
26 November - Havana, Cuba –
Montego Bay, Jamaica - By Plane
There surely cannot be anything
more inconvenient than a 5.30am flight!! That normally means
getting up at around 2.30am in order to get a taxi to the
airport at 3.00am. I like to get there early as I normally still
have to have the bike wrapped as well as pay the bike fee,
which is generally at an obscure office somewhere.
My casa owner assured me that he
had phoned for a taxi-van to take me to the airport. At 2.45am I
tiptoed downstairs and as I opened the front door, the taxi was
already there. Cuba can be as frustrating as it is fascinating.
Alas, it was not a taxi-van but
an old fucked-up Mazda hunchback. I just shook my head and
loaded the bicycle in, which was half sticking out the back. I
giggled uncontrollably all the way to the airport. The poor old
Mazda splattered, hiccupped and farted black fumes as we bounced
over potholes in the direction of the airport. I feared that the
bike was going to slide right out of its (by now) rather
sad-looking box. Not only was the box kind of a homemade one
from the start, it was also terribly out of shape by now and
hardly looked as if it could hold a bicycle. Fortunately, we
arrived in time and in one piece. At the airport I could have
the bike wrapped but first had to convince the operator that it
could be done!!