We opted for a two-day break on our trip at a Melia Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria. For this we had to ride from Santa Clara to Remedios. Will leave Spaghetti there and take a taxi or bus to the hotel. We thought about cycling there but it is super windy, hot and boring. We would then come back to Remedios and ride to Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad.
Before leaving Santa Clara we had an amazing breakfast. The owner himself baked the pastries and we had the chance to take a generous appetizer for our lunch.
Santa Clara has a beautiful clean plaza with some tourism but not overwhelming. Exiting Santa Clara towards Remedios we passed through the Train explosion monument / museum. Visiting this place brought us weird feelings. I remembered the little models we made at school with plasticine on how someone won or lost a war. This is when during the Cuban revolution they were able to blow a train. They grabbed the arms and munitions inside the cars that otherwise would be used against them. This marked the revolutionaries -led by el Che on this area- victory over Santa Clara. We respected their victory but did not participate in the explosion celebration. So for this time we passed entering into the museum.
Valentina had frequent breakdowns on the first days while trying to reduce the misery of cycling pain. Once she found the right position of handlebar position and seat angle, height, and horizontal placement we were gold. The best move was to give her her own multi-tool and have her adjust everything at her leisure. Now it was my turn. The road to exit Santa Clara is through a very narrow road with traffic. That meant two things, sharing the space managing to not fall into the road shoulder. But not too much towards the lane center so that vehicles could pass. The second one and way worse was the smog coming out of all vehicles. On top of that, we might have started cycling late that day because it was already hot and dusty. Finally, the shoulder was full of random trash, plastic bags, bottles, paper, etc.
I developed a sharp pain on my trapeze muscles because I transferred my upper body weight all the way there. I kept my arms loose and not locked on the elbows but that wasn’t enough. My homoplate bones were sticking out all the time making the muscles around carry all the weight. Later on I remembered the corrections during yoga to puff-up the muscles around the spine hiding the homoplate bones. This way I distributed the load more evenly along the back muscles and core, sending more force to the legs. If you are wondering “your arms should carry no weight at all”. Well, on a tandem bike loaded with panniers there is continuous steering and equilibrium keeping.
So, dusty, hot, in pain, thoroughly polluted up a hill, and feeling all cars passing next to us ever so close, we decided to stop for a break next to the trash around. I yelled Valentina loudly and miserably I hated absolutely everything of what we were doing. Not only that, I hated the place, the food, the pollution. The fact the Spaghetti’s well-being was hanging from a shoestring now that we finished some of the spare parts. I was angry at myself for spending so much money on a place that in my eyes could be just like any poor town in Mexico. Except that there, we could actually find anything we needed at our leisure, not like here. I finished firmly, “I would not recommend anyone closely or publicly doing this horrible nightmare of trip!”
She bursted out laughing. “I thought you would never come to this point in your life.” She replied as happy as ever. True, this was probably the first time I expressed so much hate openly. Her green-brownish eyes shine like someone who had just received a declaration of sincere love and kept staring at me with immense joy. Her natural posture wearing a sleeveless jersey made her look elegant and very attractive. Surrounded by houses falling apart, trash, dust and smog we laughed and hugged. There was nothing to say, the explosion had to come and go as an event in itself and not as a problem to overcome with a logic solution. We had some pastry from the amazing breakfast leftovers and got back in the road.
We arrived to Remedios and realized that the route was way shorter than what we wanted. Our legs were used to the 70-80sh km per day and we kind of wanted to keep going. Then it started to rain so it wasn’t that bad to have arrived already. Remedios is very straight forward and we had no problems to find the Villa Colonial Frank and Arelys. We strongly recommend this place, they have very reasonable prices and the place is in great condition. Frank is very friendly and willing to help.
Remedios is one of the oldest cities in Cuba, from 1511? Its original date of settlement is unknown because they hid it from the Spanish crown in order to avoid paying taxes. The settlement grew and eventually they found them. On around 1682 Father Gonzalez de la Cruz claimed that satanic forces took over the place. Two years later the Spanish Crown sent a Royal Decree transferring 18 families. The new settlement was free of demons and they called it Santa Clara.
We found interesting that not many central plazas in Cuba have a church. This one does. The Iglesia mayor of San Juan Bautista suffered many pirate attacks over the centuries. For this reason, it is said, they covered the gold with white paint on the walls. They re-discovered it right before the revolution while doing some restoration.