Flat central Cuba with fields of sugar cane, small villages and towns, cheerful cubanos and billboards and signs celebrating revolution.
Early in th morning we pack our tent, repair another flat tire (?) and say goodbye to our new family. In 15minutes a truck stops in front of us, two smiling guys get off and offer to Jan a sip from rum (I’m still eating antibiotics). At the begining we are a little bit confused but then they explain we met before at the motorest with Rogelio. We chat a little and continue.
I’ve got a weird feeling in the back wheel… something between an elipse and low pressure …. BUUUM! The Tire exploded under my ass! There is nothing to do in this nontraditional situation and with the big holes in tire and innertube – so we just laugh. We push the bike to the nearest bus stop and a local guy helps us to stop camion (truck which is remade to autobus). Ponchero in the next town repairs the best he can but in 5 minutes the tire is flat again. Plenty amigos who should have a tire for us piss us off – they don’t have anything and what they have is expensive. At the end we find a good tire in a shop.
After 65km we arrive to a dam where we wanted to camp firstly but then manager offers us whole cottage for 15CUC and we agree. Jan swims a little in the water (I don’t want to make my infected leg worse … yes, I was swimming in the river the day before, ups :)) and we have some food in the local restaurant. The cottage is small, a little dirty but for the price great. There is a frog which can climb walls in the bathroom so using toilet is always fast (the feeling that in this moments a frog touch my butt is strange). To turn on the “shower” is a engineering problem, but after a while we use pliers and water start comming out of a hole in the wall. In the morning we get up while is still dark and Jan “secretly” starts our gasoline stove to boil water for tee. This means that the first minutes there is a two feet high flame and then it burns really loud :). Before 7am the manager comes and ask why we are still here and that we should leave (first we had feeling that this was official, but now we see that he just made more money to his pocket).
The next days are calm. The country is flat with fields of sugar cane or cows which look of a little shadow under the few trees in this hot weather. Villages or small towns are good reason to stop for a while and drink fresh juice for 5cents or have a sandwich with ham for 10 and refill water. The houses and their surrounding are neat and next to many of them are signs celebrating revolution. The most popular here is the “Socialismo o muerte!” (Socialism or death). We meet many great Cubanos on the streets or those who invite us to their homes but also another two cyclists. One is Nadja from Germany – nice girl who rides from the other direction so she’s got the wind against her all the time. The second is Simon from England who is much faster than we are, but still we catch him twice.
We go through Camaguey with curvy narrow roads which are build this way to confuse the enemies, Florida with open air public gym, the recreational centre for Cubanos in Mayago, Jatibonico where we are almost hit by a baseball ball when we go next to stadion and in Santi Spiritus we visit perfect museum about a expedition in traditional indain dugout canoes.
Then the roads starts to change and in front of us rise beautiful hills … nice to look at but with our pigeons without gears it means we have to push a lot. Next to another dam in hills we ask Reinold and Albertina if we can build our tent there and they welcome us cheerfully. They have a big property (bigger than our eyes can see) and a lot of animals. The nicest is the 5-days old cow and week-old pigs. Reinaldo milks the cows with a special one-leg chair attached to his pants – it looks like a stick goes out of his butt :). I need to use bathroom and Albertina take me somewhere close a fence a little further down. I’m not sure why I cannot fulfill my needs here but I have a few gueses – the nonexisting visual barrier (1feet high grass is not enough) or the chickens which wait what will fall out of me or I just feel weird to shit in the garden of these nice people. Anyway after this there is not enough room in my stomack for eating much of the dinner they prepared for us and that’s when they start to think I’m pregnant (yes, the birth will be right after we continue further next to a nearest tree and it will be a mulatto :D). The bath is again with a bucket of water and surprise is when a small froggie starts to climb my foot. We build the tent in a slope because there is not much flat here and hope we don’t build it on some of the plenty cow shits. Then we talk till the late night and promise that the next time we go by we will definitely stop here.
The country next day is again hilly and beautiful. We reach Trinidad before noon. Right away an amigo offers us accomodation but after he burns Jan with a cigarette we go looking further. In half an hour we have a nice room in the center for 15CUC with a swimming pool (because of a big number of casa particular in this town the prices are really low). The historical centre is really nice – the old colonial houses are newly paint and everything looks neat here. There are a lof of galleries here – but most of them with the same stuff for tourists (for sure there are also some nice pieces). After 2 hours we lose interest and go further to the down town where normal cubans live in houses without nice paint. In the evening our host send us to a restaurant because they are not able to prepare dinner at home as we ordered. The next day is rainy and the trip on horses is cancelled. We lay in bed, plan the next days, walk in the empty streets and enjoying of doing nothing with a bottle of rum (I don’t eat the antibiotics anymore :)).
In the early morning we load the bicycles and realize a flat tire on Jan’s one :D. The day continues in this way – begging children along the way, unfriendly people, no juice and food stands and strong wind against us. In the evening we ask for place for our tent 20km before Cienfuegos and Alvaro invites us to their garden. He lives there with his wife and her children (we haven’t met any family in Cuba yet where the husband and wife live together the whole life … we won’t be inspired by this here for sure). They offer us mamey fruit – from the outside with dark and hard surface, in the inside red, creamy with a flavor of strawberries. In the evening we hear shouting and loughts from the inside of the house – all of them fight with towels and sometimes the get a real hit. Later we play domino with them and finally we feel like we are part of their culture now (domino is played here by everybody and everywhere). Then we bring our playcards and teach them “Oh Shit!” and they teach us their games. We have a photo session and talk to late night. This is the first family who wants to emigrate from Cuba – as soon as it will be possible. So far we like Cuba but we also realize the injustice that the people cannot travel and leave freely. The flight tickets are too expensive for them and they need special permissions to go abroad and the invitations letter which is really checked by the officials.
Despite of this, most of Cubans we’ve met are happy with their life here.