Cuba day 8. Las Terrazas

Whether that was a good idea or not we stayed two nights at Soroa so that we could dedicate a full day going in and out of Las Terrazas, we could have also stayed there overnight and continue our trip easily but having finally a taste of tailwind back to Soroa was completely worth it.

We went through the same slopes we did the day before, as we were going uphill I tried to change gears beyond the highest one and the chain got trapped between the gear and the wheel. We had that before but this time it was way tougher as the chain got jammed with one of the rivets that holds the cassette together.

Some very nice Australian cyclists interrupted their heavenly downhill and offered support. “Our guide is an excellent mechanic and is coming right behind me” the confident Aussie cyclist said as she reapplied sunscreen again and again. He came down and the two of us were able to unjam the chain but he then continued patiently adjusting gears, brakes, and everything else. I felt bad for his clients waiting but he seemed to enjoy either working on a Tandem for first time or demonstrating his island rare knowledge. I guess both. Spaghetti behaved amazing after that. He ensured I could call him anytime from anywhere in Cuba if I needed help. In theory I loved having the safety net he offered, in practice not sure how would that work.

We made it to the lake at Las Terrazas, pulled out our tuna, habanero sauce, and bread, and had an amazing picnic on one of the tables made for that. Visited one of the organic pricy restaurants for a juice, and did the mandatory Polo Montañez house tour. This place is known for their eco-village and organic practices but instead of that we had a daiquiri at the lake with some romantic Mexican, Spanish and Cuban songs in the background, most of them were converted into a salsa version. 

Instead of going the same way back on the smaller hilly road we decided to go down to the highway and then go up. This was definitely one of our most enjoyable rides having the wind on our back. We got a taste of what we should have planned for all our trip, cycling east to west and not the other way around. The French family we met previously at San Diego de Los Baños, and met again this night, travelled with their 5 year old daughter and did at some point 100km on a day with the wind on their backs. The highest we’ve done so far was 80km on a day and almost passed away when getting to our destination. We continued blaming the wind against us.

Here is our favorite Polo Montañez song:

Cuba day 7. San Diego de los Baños – Soroa

We were impressed by the number of families traveling with their kids by bicycle in general but even more here in Cuba. There is a lot of people in the world that are not chained to a 9-5 office job, and many kids that are having a school traveling year with their parents. These Canadian farmers -about our age- travel with their 5 year old daughter who is fluent in English, French, and is quicker than her parents in adopting Spanish thanks to her social skills. She engages a conversation with anyone or anything that crosses her path. Some of her family members and friends at home thought they were completely crazy, but surely they are an inspiration for many who are dreaming of doing this trip.

Since we could not take the bus to the eastern side, we rode to this town and we would make our way down to Soroa, visit Las Terrazas on a day trip, and then take a taxi down to Playa Larga. We considered cycling instead of taking the taxi but there are no tourist areas in between and we learnt yesterday that we wont find a place to sleep at all, let alone by drinking water, food, etc.

We said goodbye to the German solo traveler and the Canadian family, and started pedaling. Cycling from San Diego de los Baños to Soroa we choose the Carretera Central de Cuba instead of the big highway favoring slower vehicles and less straight boring roads. We also felt more protected from the wind with all the vegetation around. Drivers love using their 18-wheeler like horn for saying “hi” right next to your ear as you try to avoid falling into the next pavement hole. Once you recover from the shock and / or unbalance, they push the gas -or more accurate diesel- pedal, and your nostrils and lungs will travel back to the 50’s when fast cars exhaust pollution was cool (was it?).

We made it to the highly recommended Villa Arcoiris and were very impressed by the level of detail they put into the room, bath, and house in general. Dinner and breakfast were amazing. The host is a super decent educated lady taking care of her house and guests. She knows everyone around and can help you with anything you need. In our case, she arranged for us a taxi who would drive us down to Playa Larga days later.

We left our stuff at Villa Arcoiris, prepared a single pannier with tools and spare parts and went up to the Cascada and Mirador. This short 2km or so have been by far the steepest stretch we’ve done in Cuba. There was not a single cyclist on their bike, everyone except us luckily in a tandem, was walking up their bikes. People around and even us laughed at ourselves by how ridiculous it was to cycle that slope. But this is where a tandem bike -also- excels, we had 4 legs pedaling making cycling the hill possible. Both the Cascada and Mirador are highly recommended.

This is today’s Strava recording:

Cuba day 6. Viñales – San Diego de los Baños

We took a few hours to source cartons and pack Spaghetti into three home made boxes ready to take the Taxi Colectivo to Cienfuegos and continue our trip on the eastern side of La Habana. We originally had a “regular” taxi (not certified) booked but the day before, the government announced that all taxis effective immediately needed to be certified to avoid illegal cars working as taxis, this change created a bit of a chaos on the transportation system all over and Colectivos (certified taxis) were overbooked. Some say it was announced months in advance without a specific date to be effective, others that it was something they never heard about. Promptly at 8am our driver arrived, stared at our belongings, and broke into a laugh, “there is no way I can fit all your stuff here… see you guys.”

We looked at each other, and went to the bus office finding that the next place available to Cienfuegos would be in 3 days with no guarantees of taking our belongings with us. We went back to the casa particular, assembled Spaghetti and left towards San Diego de los Baños changing our route.

Or that’s what we thought. Half way through we stopped for some papaya rest at a house in a small town. It wasn’t actually a town, it was an intersection with a few houses together. They cut it and offered to sit in front of their house. We sat on their chairs enjoying the shade and their papaya, they recommended that we stayed at Los Palacios for the night because they thought it was a really nice place. The kids seemed to enjoy seeing and hearing foreigners and we really liked seeing them happy surrounded by pigs, horses, chickens, dogs, and cats.

We gave them some alegrias (Mexican amaranth candies, now trendy and considered Superfood) and as we went back into the almost empty highway intersection I heard “Pablo!!!”. Someone jumped out of a taxi towards us. It was Jose, our host in La Havana who was traveling with the family, we hugged, assured that the trip was going well and he jumped back into his taxi.

Even if Los Palacios was further away than San Diego de los Baños -our original destination- we thought the recommendation might be a good idea. We did not talk to 4 more people like we normally do and Lonely Planet insists, we did not ask the living encyclopedia Jose, and we did not search for Los Palacios on any of our books.

To make it faster we decided to take the highway, windy, and rather cold and became a bit boring. We both were tired but made it safely to Los Palacios right before sunset, great timing. Arriving to Cuba is traveling in time, but this place was yet another dimension. Everyone starred at us, the place did not come up in the Lonely Planet, our offline version of Google maps didn’t show any place where to stay and we could not find any. Everyone gave different directions on where to stay overnight. 

We finally talked to someone who actually ran a place but it had the red anchor instead of the blue anchor sign. Red means locals only. This place was not only not meant for tourism but any local who hosted a tourist would have been in great trouble. We had over 70km of cycling on our backs starting at 1pm because we were going to take a taxi and instead we assembled Spaghetti, most of the road was against the wind, and now we were hungry, it was dark, and had no place where to stay.

We asked a few taxis to take us to the nearby town but they all shrugged their shoulders, shaking their heads, and exhaling a “not at this time, thank you”. We thought about leaving Spaghetti at someone’s house over night, take the bus to another town and come back the next day. But the bus was also not meant for tourists. We were trapped into our own mistake.

Being part of a fault in the system attracted some locals around, Spaghetti in itself was weird, but now we, and our situation was also weird. One of them came closer than the rest of the locals and talked to us. The kind you don’t want to talk to, a bit drunk, dirty, and really hard to understand. Freddy. He said he will help us and asked what we needed. We said a truck who can carry us and Spaghetti to San Diego de Los Baños. He signaled “hold my beer”. On any other country we would feel fear from other people in this situation, but being in one of the safest places on earth we had new emotions. Uncertainty, stupidity, fear of not having control?

Minutes later, happy to not having the drunk guy around and thinking what to do next, we kept brainstorming and talking to people who would like to hide spaghetti and us in their yard, but nothing sounded convincing. Then, Freddy came back. “Ok, its going to cost you 25CUC, its all sorted out” he said. He took us to a house where the driver was and the 50’s State truck was waiting for us. He helped us carrying all panniers and Spaghetti into the back of the truck and we sat at the cabin. He completely saved us. I gave him 2CUC, shook hands and thanked him.

We made it there and as we stopped into the first casa particular to ask for information a familiar drunken voice says, “they have no place here, let’s ask for the next one.” It was Freddy, he actually jumped into the back of the truck in Los Palacios and rode with us all the way there. He completely made sure we found somewhere to stay, we paid the driver once we found our place and couldn’t believe how much we underestimated Freddy’s hospitality skills.

We joined a Canadian family cycling Cuba with her 5 year old daughter having dinner with a German guy and never loved so much hearing English accents and broken Spanish.

This is the Strava ride, we just forgot to stop it when we arrived to Los Palacios so it kept recording the leg we did on a truck.

Cuba Cycling route: La Habana to Viñales

We cycled for a month in Cuba with a Tandem bike, and Valentina and I decided this was one of our favorite sections. After 5 days visiting La Habana staying at the super recommendable house of Jose y Lourdes we started our trip towards Viñales. We did stop in Cabañas and Palma Rubia with a day trip to Cayo Levisa. For sure there are other options to break it into more days but definitely we wouldn’t recommend less than that.

1. La Habana – Cabañas. 78km 522m elevation gain. Google map path. Our own ride is here on Strava. We recommend to exit La Habana from El Malecon (if you can, play some Buena Vista Social Club music on your bike speakers while you do that) and then continue through 5th ave, this will become the highway later. Just be careful of not taking the tunnel at the start of 5th ave. The highway starts flat and nicely paved as you exit the urban area. You will be flanked on your right side by the sea -Strait of Florida- and there are always choices to stop along the highway shoulder for a break. Shortly after leaving La Habana you will find yourself surrounded by nature, almost on your own with no traffic. Some American cars from the 50’s, trucks, bicycles, horses, will be with you at some point. Before Cabañas it becomes hilly and the road is full of holes but still manageable. Cabañas doesn’t offer much to see around, just a place to eat and sleep. At the time this post is written there is only one place to sleep in Cabañas called Villa Luis Montesino y Anabel. From the town center this place is a 10 minutes super hilly ride, so be ready for your last leg stretch. There may be people at the plaza trying to get you there for some coins but with the above link you will find your way there.

2. Cabañas – Palma Rubia. 70km 236m elevation gain. Google map path. (sorry, we did not record Strava but the Google link is very close). Its a win-win situation to hear recommendations of places to stay at your next destination -Casas Particulares- if you like the place you are staying at. In this case we asked for recommendations for Palma Rubia and conveniently they recommended a place they also owned but it was even better than the Cabañas’ one so we can safely recommend it too, Villa Luis Montesino – La Curva. The road continuous not in the best shape -consider mountain bikes- and you will start with two hills right away. You’ll continue to be surrounded by amazing jungle like vegetation going through small villages. Super recommendable to stay two nights there so you can go on a day trip to Cayo Levisa. Cayo Levisa was our favorite beach in Cuba. Very easy to find an empty beach area, water is not polluted, and the sand is super clean. Check our post on Cayo Levisa.

3. Palma Rubia – Viñales. 50km 875m elevation gain. Google map path. Our Strava recording. You’ll pass again little villages and the road will be kind of hilly. A further away from Mina la Constancia -3km-, you will start climbing, around km 45 will have the highest slope (100m elevation in less than 1km), then you’ll be rewarded with a similar downhill. We did not have the great experience in Viñales with our Casa Particular so we can’t recommend it but there are a lot to choose from. Check our Viñales post for more info. On the way you’ll have kids asking for chewing gum or school materials. At least for us it was way more fulfilling having ready some notebooks and pencils or colors than candies.

If you have any questions about planning this or other parts please do not contact us!

The Ultimate Techie Cycling List

We’ve spent hours and months researching, trying, returning, and purchasing gear. What we recommend is what has really worked for us and enjoyed using. We have not come across a tailored list with products links and reason to buy them, so we decided to create one. Here it goes:

1. Universal Travel Adapter. Instead of traveling with all your chargers and converters, take this one only. Even if you are traveling minimalist you will carry some devices that are powered by USB. In our case: phones, watch, iPad, Kindle, power bank, speaker, head lamps, tent lamp, drone, and bike front and rear lamps. You can charge 4 USB devices at a time and still plug a power hungry item on top -like an iron or hair dryer-. We really like the fact that it doesn’t warm up, fast charges our devices, and is relatively compact. We didn’t like that is bulky -if you need to charge only one device- and cumbersome to connect on tight areas. Totally worth the purchase and the weight and volume usage on our panniers.

  • 2. Phone mount. We’ve tried multiple types of mounts over the years spending up to $100, however this universal mount is less than a fifth of that price and works perfect. In comparison to others, this you can keep using when you update your phone. It has silicon belt grips on the corners as an optional holder for super extreme rides. We only had to use them on a few occasions because the side holders worked well enough. On those extreme occasions the phone did not fall but slipped a bit off the center, having the side holders squeezing the upper volume and lock button for a while which triggers the SOS alarm for iPhones. Once the belts are in all is good.

3. Power bank. Your phone will likely be your lamp, camera, map, internet browser, activity recorder, music player… and maybe a phone. It is likely that you won’t finish the day with some juice on its battery if you use it for all that. This power bank charges a couple of phones simultaneously through USB and the qi wireless capability. A few things to note: it comes with a USB C – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device, its nicely advertised as solar but you won’t charge it 100% that way, so better assume that its only for emergencies; Qi is nice but if someone happened to shift the phone slightly from its place, you wont wake up with a fully charged phone; lastly its not the lightest on the market but is super sturdy.

  • 4. Bluetooth Speaker. Surely you already have a similar bluetooth speaker, we also have a few. But we choose to take this one because the good quality of sound vs size and weight. The strap in the back loops perfectly around the bike frame (down tube). We both were able to listen music perfectly on our tandem while cycling upwind. One charge lasted about two days of riding around 4-5 hours. We liked the clear treble and bass -considering the size-, the sturdiness, water resistance capability, and large battery capacity. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device. We did not like the mechanical responsiveness of the buttons, they are not that intuitive to operate if you are not looking at them. This was not really a big deal since we normally control the music through an iPhone and Apple Watch.

5. Bike headlamp. We know, 1,100 lumens is crazy to point at someone’s eyes! But using this headlamp responsibly -it has 3 power levels- will change your late afternoon or night ride completely. Even if you don’t plan to ride in the dark probably at some point you will find yourself on that saddle after sunset. At its highest power this lamp gives you about the brightness of your car high beams but covering a much larger area. Like similar lamps, its heavy and it will get hot, the metal ribs work as heat dissipators so try not to hold it from there after long usage. We also have an older 350 lumens model -same shape and size, double the money at the purchase time- and we’ve been using for 8 years with no issues. We recommend placing the lamp on its mount only when using it, otherwise the mount channels will wear off. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device.

  • 6. Smart Bike Tail Light. A most have in your gadgets list. This tail light turns On on its own when you start moving, will go brighter when its darker, and brightest when you are breaking. It has a super wide field of view, the battery lasts about 20 hours. Every 5 days or so we saw the light at a lower intensity and it was time to charge it. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device. We honestly can’t find anything inconvenient on this thing, we strongly recommend it.

7. Headlamp. Having a lamp fixed to the bike is indispensable, but sometimes while riding you need to look to the sides or back. That’s what this lamp is for. Is super light and easy to carry everywhere. We loved the motion sensor where you quickly raise your hand and will switch off / on as needed. We purchased and returned 4 similar headlamps, and this one was the winner.

  • 8. Tent lamp. If you are doing camping this lamp is super helpful. Is rechargeable, water resistant, has a magnet, and 3 intensity levels. -It also has a SOS function, but haven’t come across anyone who has used that on this or any other device.- Our favorite function is the power bank with a USB-A output. Needless to say its bulky so don’t buy this unless you are camping.

9. 19-tool multitool. Needless to say why you need this and for sure you already have one. We like that this multitool is lightweight, rather compact, very complete, and good quality. We do not like that on many occasions the chain / spoke tool is often obstructing and adds another degree of movement so we simply unscrewed it and stored it with the spare chainlink. The tool often looses its tightness on its holding mechanism but can easily be screwed again.

  • 10. 8-tool multitool. Yes, a second set. My wife kept this one on her back pocket and I kept the 19-tool above. She quickly loved it and became her own tool for adjusting her saddle, tightening racks, and -of course- assembling and disassembling the bike. Its slimness and stainless steel shine makes it look fancy but is very affordable for what it does. This tool is super light, compact, and tough. In comparison to the 19-tool above this one has a system that wont allow to get its holding mechanism loose.

11. Pump with gauge. This is not your home floor pump but its the closest thing. This pump is comfortable to use cause it has a T-handle to push down with your hand, a fold down footpath to keep it on the floor, and a flexible hose with a gauge. It has both Presta/Schrader heads. Great volume and weight. There are lighter ones but not as comfortable to use and without gauge. You’ll need some muscles or patience, but if you tour-cycle you have both. After 7 years of usage an inner seal broke, other than that we have no complains.

This is all for now, keep checking our page for other products list and traveling stories. Feel free to contact us for any advice by leaving a reply below.

Do You Smoke? only two a day.

This woman has smoked two cigars a day since the age of 13. She’ll be 100 years old if she makes it to 2021.

This is what she has gone through: she grew in extreme poverty with no school, very limited food, and no access to public places in a state of almost slavery. Then saw Fidel stepping up and after the revolution she received food, healthcare, education, a house, and free access to public areas like beaches and plazas. The US embargo and socialism started and no longer saw the rich people living in their big houses, instead government was taking over. She got some of the Russian goodies as they sent all kind of luxuries like food, basic cars, tools, drinks, machinery, clothing, etc. Then the socialism field collapsed and went through tough days without the Russian breast, “The Special Period”, no food, no nothing for about three years. Taping into some muscle memory from her poverty days, she would go through a complete day or more with no food. Slowly food was grown locally and not brought from overseas reminding her childhood days. Later Fidel stepped down and died. Raul and Manuel took power and soften the socialism allowing private property purchase and trading. In the mean time she had kids, they had kids, they also had kids, and they are having more kids. Thats about it.

Today she sees tourists every day from her granddaughter Casa Particular and gives them that peaceful and wise look while smoking a cigar, free of illness fear, and ready to let the world keep spinning on its own.

Grocery Delivery

We tourists get shocked when going to supermarkets only to find half the shelves are empty. Reality for locals is different though. Beside the government monthly share of rice, beans, pork, matches, and other basic food, they get to buy whatever is sold door to door. The bicycle above is from an onion and garlic seller about to start his day going through Viñales streets. Yes, he was actually able to ride that bike and not only push it. We got to see this with bread, empanadas, vegetables, flowers, etc.

We are not quite sure if this is part of the informal economy -not seen by the government- or if what they are offering is already their share to sell on their own after giving to the state their obliged portion at the price they are told.

High level government can obtain local information very efficiently if desired from any area of the country. The lowest level of power is a kind of zone inspector, he is the area expert. His goal is to serve the people and be informed about everything, he lives and works in that area and maintains relationship with all people around. He knows everyone, their names, where they work, and where they live. If you don’t enroll your kids to school, he’ll easily get to know and will be knocking at your door reminding you that education is obligatory in Cuba.

It is then hard to believe the government is not getting their share from the full production, however we did not get to ask to confirm. On the other hand we can safely say that, despite the lack of basic products offered at the stores, a generous selection of rum, and cigarets never fail to appear.

About 3 hours later we found the onion and garlic seller with half or less of the load on his bike meaning he had had a successful day!

Cuba day 5. Viñales.

We haven’t been to Trinidad yet, but if we were to choose a single Cuban city to visit we would have picked Viñales. People is super friendly, plenty of choices to eat, drink, live music on the street, and everything is walking distance-sh. 

Weather was colder, we both got a virus somewhere and had some cold for a couple of days. We were strongly recommended doing a tour around the area which is normally done riding horses. We said let’s walk for a change and not ride bikes or horses, so we did the tour walking. We are still convincing ourselves that it was worth it, it was a demonstration of cigar making, coffee growing-rusting-grinding, honey, and rum. Definitely was fun and entertaining but mostly we felt that supported the local community.

Coffee grinding

Other attractions we decided to do on our own. Prehistoric mural, I was particularly excited because they were inspired by Diego Rivera’s murals, but as our German cyclists warned us, it is enough to see them from the highway. Mirador view was really nice mostly because it was a super hilly ride, got super loaded Piña Coladas while watching the sunset, and cycled down with almost pitch dark. We decided we could safely skip the Cueva de los Indios after seeing what it looked like through someone else’s pictures.

Some more of Viñales.

This is Our Casa Particular
The Casa Particular owner’s dog looks just like her.

Rear tire was flat again. Self note, when the specialist at the bikeshop says that such a tire is the one the manufacture uses for that specific bike, it might be wise to stick to that combination. Instead we insisted that the tire looked to thin -road like- and wouldn’t be good enough for bumpy Cuba. Before coming over we changed the original tires to something more gravel like called “gravelking”. Our theory is that these tires are too soft and that’s why they easily pinch into the rim. Luckily we had one of original thin tires with us and put it back into the rear wheel. It has worked like magic, no flat tires!

Viñales was definitely worth stoping because of the people, live music in the streets, options for buying needs, and nature around. You can also do day trips from here to other areas. But as in must cases, the journey was much better than the destination. Cycling from La Habana to Viñales was an amazing experience. Specially for us where we got to learn about Spaghetti’s repair needs on tough roads. Three nights were enough and we are ready to continue riding.

Close But No Cigar

Viñales is an amazing town to hang around for dancing, eating, and drinking, and is surrounded by all kinds of tour options. Coffee, cigars, rum, honey, murals, horse riding, cycling, etc. Most price tags are north of $50. Be creative and talk to your Casa Particular or hotel owner to tailor what you want to see and if you can use your own bike to get there instead of them picking you up. Once you negotiate the tour price, expect to pay another $20 or so for their only option they’ll give you for lunch or purchase some of their organic good quality products, either of those will support locals directly.

We gave up the idea of horse riding as we had enough “riding” in the previous days and instead opted doing the cigar-coffee-honey tour walking. The whole tobacco harvesting, drying, cutting and cigar preparation is completely artisanal. The government have local inspectors who accurately count their complete tobacco production ensuring that 90% is sold to the estate. Every other product, like sugar or coffee, have a lower percentage because in comparison, cigars have a better selling price, higher demand, and lower cost.

The word Cigar, Cigarro in Spanish, came from the Mayan word Sikar, which means smoke rolled tobacco. It is commonly known that Habano is a Cigar coming from Cuba. However Habano means anything coming from La Habana. The estate company Habano S.A. owns the trademarks of every brand of Cuban-made cigars in the countries they are exported to. To control distribution Habanos S.A. exports to only one company in each country, except the US.

In 2000 Spanish company Altadis acquired 50% of Habano S.A. and restructured each product, sizes, and marketing –limited edition and special releases are now available– more inline with the global market and maybe with what US consumers would favor in the future when / if the US blockage is removed. Then in 2008 British company Imperial Tobacco acquired Altadis and is said that they are looking in selling their premium division including Habanos S.A. in case you are interested.

To differentiate from these giants, local producers come up with something completely organic -free of nicotine-, hand made, and they are sure of selling you the experience of buying something local from their own hands and forbidden in some areas. The obligatory 90% share to the government is priced at whatever the estate dictates, the other 10% is left to produce their own cigars and sell them locally. This last share is where they live from. They do Cohiba, Monte Cristo, and Romeo y Julieta -stronger to less-. You will get to try each of them and of course buying your 10 pack.

On February 7th 1962, to sanction Fidel’s communist government, Kennedy imposed a trade embargo. The day before though, he ordered to buy 1,200 Cuban cigars, upon the shipment arrival the next morning he signed the embargo order. When structuring the embargo he tried to exempt cigars, but the Tampa cigar companies objected. These companies were manufacturers that originally came from Cuba in the 1800s when the US imposed higher taxes. The solution? Move to Florida and plant your tobacco there. Today their products are close but nowhere near to what the well seasoned consumer would expect from a cigar.

Cuba day 4. Palma Rubia (Cayo Levisa) – Viñales

Palma Rubia is not only a handy stop to break the road towards Viñales but it is the closest place to sleep around Cayo Levisa. Never mind the 35CUC needed to take you there that includes the boat trip, two drinks, and the rather regular meal. The beach is absolutely amazing, picture Cancun a few decades ago. It’s your choice if you want to see people or be on your own at this paradise.

We were told Cubans are not permitted there, we thought it was something similar to the no lobster or shrimps to locals rule leaving the high price tag items for tourists to bring money into the economy. We later understood they are actually allowed to go there, they just need to open their coffers and give away a month and a half worth of their salary to visit Cayo Levisa, enough reason for not seeing any local enjoying their own beaches sadly.

You have a few choices to take the boat in the morning and a few more to come back right before sunset. Don’t expect super nice meals there and be ready to find the typical all inclusive tourist attitude around you. The place is understaffed and is easy to see that they need to be patient with the lack of resources they have and super demanding tourists. The buffet offers the regular rice, beans, fried fish, chicken, pork, pasta, fruit, etc.

Next day we had an amazing breakfast again at the Casa Particular. We left candies to the worker for her daughter who was super excited and had not seen a lollypop before. Our German cyclist colleagues gave a much wiser gift, notebooks and pencils… how come we didn’t think of that instead of the unneeded sugar!

As we were preparing Spaghetti and were about to leave earlier than the Germans -for first time- we noticed another broken connector. This time the change was much quicker but we left the place last. At this point we only have one spare connector that can break, otherwise we will need to improvise on how to make our gears work. Pretty much like Cubans do everyday with anything.

The road had beautiful views, hilly and full of holes. We met over the road another couple on a Tandem. Their bike doubled Spaghetti’s weight but they had almost no gear in comparison to us with our 4 panniers, handlebar bag (for money, passports, habanero sauce, alcohol gel, mosquito repellent, multitool), and our rear “sausage” center bag (carrying shoes and food).

They had a few decades of experience traveling the world under their belt. “Have you cycled Thailand?” we asked. “Yes, we’ve crossed it five times”. And so was their answer for many other countries. Their attire including shoes had nothing to do with our carefully sourced -purchased, tried, returned, repeat- high tech gear, I guess they were at their home couch comfortably watching TV and suddenly jumped into their tandem to travel the world.

Other cyclist also congregated to our conversation at the side of the highway. The German couple that stayed at the same place in Cabanas and Palma Rubia, and a Canadian couple that travelled with one shirt each, they were going to sell their cheap mountain bikes at the end of their ride. Arriving to Viñales we stopped for lunch and before leaving we had again a flat rear tire. So we were not only the less experienced, but also the most gear loaded cyclist and with the most mechanic problems. Not that anyone cared but at least we were the fastest on the road. Overtaking other cyclist is a breeze on Spaghetti -when everything works that is-.