Well the last two days at La Finca were fantastic!!! Way to many things going on there and I am sure I´ll miss lots. The 50km ride went good and we arrived at the farm around 1pm. Got settled in with 3 of us in one "bunkroom" with two VERY small single beds pushed together and the other two in the Cubans casa in one of their sons rooms with a double bed. A little cramped but they are very generous to offer us accomodations. We spent the afternoon touring around Hector´s property picking fresh oranges, star fruit, coconut, you name it off the trees and eating as much as we wanted. Had a great dinner with them in their house of totally organically grown produce on their farm and pork from their livestock. Early night as we were tired but would only be more tired the next day. Why....anyone who tells you that roosters only crow at sun up is.....well......WRONG. They crow all night long back and forth to each other. The next day we spent most of the time doing a little work in the morning for them, racking and cleaning up around a pond and then in the afternoon busy in his ¨factory¨ which is a pottery shop were we each made a number of clay pottery items that he will save for us until we return as they need about a week to dry. One of their three sons was turning 16 yesterday so they had a bit of a get together that we were invited to and had dinner around this big outside stone table. Was really cool even though we couldn´t hardly understand any of it. The kids also went fishing in a dugout with a fwe of the young people there and Luke especially worked hard with a younf guy who worked there with the annimals. They were hilarious as they were about the same size, both had yellow ball caps and both smiled all the time! Left this morning early and really had a memorable experience spending a couple of days with this very nice family. Made it back to Varadero )42km) by lunch time and had pizza while we waited for out casa to be cleaned. Going to the casa owners for supper and will pack up and hang out at the beach tomorrow. Might have one more update before we leave but that´s likely all the really interesting stuff for now.
Our quote for the trip.... Many people have been to Cuba....but on this trip we all have lived a small part of Cuba.....
Made the 30km ride to Jaguey Grande and easily found the casa referred by the previous one. Nice young couple with two rooms and will also have supper there. Once we got settled in we came "downtown" to the central parque and had pizza and a drink $110 and ice cream for $15. Yes I know, seems expensive....but that was in Cuban Pesos not the Tourist Peso. So lunch for 5 individual size pizzas and 5 cans of cola for about $5 Canadian and 5 ice cream cones for about 70 cents. Bought a few supplies for the 50km ride tomorrow and snacks for on the road.
Another few random thoughts from the past few days:
1) Leaving one place, an OLD biplane flew just overhead and threw something out the door. Realize after that was either mail or newspapers for the town.
2) Brett and Luke went snorkleing with the owner of the cassa in the ocean in front of his place and saw quite a few fish and sea creatures. They were VERY pumped.
3) Mike, we must have eaten about 25 packages of those cookies so far...everyone loves them and their a great snack if someone is hungry or we are on the road!!! Do you want me to bring some back for you????
Mom (Foley) I haven't been able to access email very easily aspecially to send anything out. Have a great trip to BC and give us a call when we get home. Have fun and everyone misses you.
Gramps, hope everything is good and glad to hear of your activities with granny.
All for now, off to the farm for 2 nights, 50kms there and then another 50kms to Varadero where hopefully our beachfront casa is waiting.
PS. It has actually been quite cool here yesterday and today, maybe plus 6 overnight and then warms up during the day. We are still riding in shorts and tshirts but the Cubans have every piece of clothing they own on!!!
Cycled 16km toward Playa Giron to go snorkling in the ocean and in a natural cenote cave. Lots of fish in both and had a great time. The casa owner had sent a couple of bottles with bread and water in them to squirt out and attract fish. Worked great and saw lots of fish including a couple of large lion fish, really cool. The ride back wasn´t much fun as it was a strong north wind in our face ll the way. Had crocidile for supper along with the usual mix of rice, salad, soup, veggies, way more than we can all eat. Are off to Juagey Grande tomorrow to a casa reserved from here and he mentioned about an old steam engine train tour to a sugar cane factory we may tak in tomorrow afternoon. After that up to the farm mike and I stay foir 2 nights so will not have internet until Varadero on the 7th.
Made our way to the bus station nd as always nothing hapens much before the bus gets there but I am sure it really helps having the kids along, as everyone seems to want to accomodate us, especially with all the bikes. I had talked to the baggage people that we had 5 people and 5 bikes and 5 bags and was assured ¨no problem¨. >Stood in line for a while waiting to buy my actual tickets and was told no problem. I was called out of line to start breaking down the bikes and was told not to worry about the tickets and everything went fine getting on with all our gear and people. The bus was very full and not everyone was able to get on so felt lucky.The bus took about 2 hours and Mike if you are reading this, when I sat there watching the 95kms go by we must have more heart than brains from when we cycled that stretch as it is a llllooonnnngggg way!!!! Arrived in Playa Larga fine with Mayito the casa owner waiting. Excellent house, excellent food and great people. Got to enjoy a family & friend get together with them tonight with food, drinks and music and singing. We had a great time and a very unique experience.
Just to finish up our stay in Cienfuegos, we had a lobster dinner at another casa particulair and had ¨secretly¨arranged for a caked to be baked specially for Luke´s birthday. After dinner I went into the kitchen and lit a candle that Kelly had brought and the cuban family called their kids in to come and sing with us. Man was Luke ever surprised, worked out great. Off to Playa Larga tomorrow by bus.
Left at 8am and headed west with a little wind. The day heated up very quickly and the first 25kms went pretty good. Then it got hotter and hotter and the wind was in our face for a while and finally with about 15kms left, it was mostly downhill into the city and the wind mainly at our back. Everyone did FANTASTIC !!! 60 kms by the time we got to our casa. When we arrived we unloaded everything and she took me to the rooms and informed me that one was still occupied and we could either take one there and one somewhere else or another friend who had two rooms. So we chose the latter and loaded up everything again and headed down the street to another casa. Was fine and probably a little nicer than the original one. Will stay one night here and then head out on the bus to Playa Larga tomorrow at 9:50am. Should be some good snorkelling there! Have everything else booked between here and Varadero so hope all works out well. Not sure when we might have internet again so don't worry if you don't here.
Made our first official ride from Trinidad to Playa Yaganabo as it was the only place we could find room between here and Cienfuegos, only 26kms but at least we would put a dent in the distance. Had a big goodbye from the "casa family", had to wait in line for water and then headed out of town. Not even out of the city limits and Kaitlin got a flat in her back tire. Took about 15 minutes to change it but wasn't really a problem. Was a nice ride with lots of pictures taken as we were riding along the coast. Made it to the hotel about 1pm and had two decent rooms with a little beach close by. Wasn't very many people there and didn't see any other tourists. Kids went snorkeling and saw a few creatures. Was an early night as we have 60kms to ride tomorrow and want to get an early start.
Nothing too exciting today, Changed a bunch of money this morning, rode out to the beach, rode back a different way through a little fishing village (La Boca) on the way home and just after we arrived it started raining.
Some random thoughts from today:
#1 How we all laughed so hard at our "Cuban Casa Mama" telling the story (after I reminded her) of Mike Dyck getting super burnt and red at the beach the first day he and I were here. Went something like this" Numerous quickly spoken spanish words, MICHAEL TU ES MUY ROJO...More numerous spanish words...over and over agian" Man we all laughed!!!
#2 World wide news bulletin....CUBAN MILK SHORTAGE!! Every time we go to the corner store, a different lady every time, some times with kids some times without, ask me to buy them milk for their babies.... I say sorry and am always uncertain what the right decision is when it comes to begging. I tend not to want to encourage it and as Kaitlin punched me in the ribs when I told one lady she needed to find some work. Kaitlin found the whole situation very uncomfortable. I mentioned to Casa Mama and she confirmed that it was a scam, they sell the milk to someone else and buy fancy clothes or go to the disco.
#3 Last night Kaitlin and I are sitting comfortable in the internet place, calm, air conditioned, comfortable, good lighting, reading about home. Leave through the front door and BAM!!! the next 30 seconds include ....It's pitch black, we can't see anything....a brutal dogfight occurs in the street, someone yelling VERY loudly right behind us, ME yelling at Kaitlin WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!! as the bus almost runs over Kaitlins feet.... and then we walk quietly back to our casa... no, we're not at home anymore....this is Cuba!!! Fantastic memories!!!!
Trying to plan our trip out tomorrow but the Campismo half way between here and Cienfuegos is booked and the only two options ar another hotel 25km from here resulting in a 60km ride the next day to Cienfuegos???? or just take the bus again to Cienfuegos if the hotel is not available as nobody but me thinks its a great idea to ride 85km on our first day of riding together....hmmmm.
Had a great day today, our first ride through town, Luke was a bit nervousbut everything went well and we rode about 13km each way to te beach and are having supper at the casa again tonight. Went to a fiesta in town last night some sort of anniversary for Trinidad, lots of Cubans and tourists around. Brett was a little out of sorts, thought everything and everybody was "sketchy" trying to make sure Mom and Luke were safe I guess, as Kaitlin and I were at the internet place. Calmed down a bit and I have been trying to assure all of them how safe Cuba is especially for families. Will try to get the casa owner to sort out he next few spots for our trip to confirm a few details.
Had breakfast at the casa owners house early this morning at 6:30am, the mother there just loves Luke, gives him a big kiss on the cheek every time she sees him. We had made a reservation on the bus and were told to be there at 7:30am for the bus that leaves at 8:15 for the 6 hour ride to Trinidad. Everything went well and the luggage lady was very helpful giving us a whole compartment on the bus for our bikes and stuff. Long but uneventful ride down to the south coast. Got everything unloaded at the bus station which is surrounded by jineteros(touts) that want to take you to a casa or taxi or anything. As we were setting up the husband of the casa owner came up to us with a sign, Kelly saw him first and said no, then he came to me and recognized me from when Mike and I were just here. Walked the bikes over cobblestone streets about 5 blocks to casa and when "mama" saw me I waved as she didn't make the connection of who I was when I phoned and gave me 2 or 3 hugs and kisses when I got close. Was super excited to meet Kelly and the kids too. Went to a close restaurant and had a bite to eat until a shrimp supper tonight at the casa. Will hang around town a bit early evening and head to the beach tomorrow.
Woke up about 8am and finished setting the bikes up and walked back down to Jorge & Bettys for breakfast, tried about 4 different places yesterday and this morning looking for internet until we finally located this hotel to use theirs. Also reserved for the bus to Trinidad for tomorrow which leaves at 8:15am and arrives at about 2:30, longer than our flight down here!!! Will spend the afternoon at the beach and get everything ready tonight for an early start tomorrow, breakfast at Bettys 6:30am, bus station at 7:30 and leave at 8:15. Also have this same casa booked for Jan 7&8 when we return to Varadero before we fly home. Will get to start biking once we get to Trinidad, other than the little bit around Varadero today.
Well, we arrived on time, all our bikes arrived fine, the taxi guy was at the airport with his car and another jeep truck for the bikes so that was perfect. I rode with the guy in the jeep and Kelly and the kids in the car. Arrived at the address for the casa I had booked to a little confusion, I didn't have a house address or description so someone told the taxi driver it was one street over. Went there but was full, a bit of calling around to find another but I finally mentioned who & where I was looking for and back to the original street we went. Found Jorge waiting for us this time and had a nice two bedroom casa just steps from the beach. Really nice place and arranged for supper back at his casa. Spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach and then walked about 5 blockes to their house for a great fish dinner. Hit the bed at about 8:30pm as we were all beat after a day of travelling.
Getting all the bikes packed up, gear loaded and trying to get accomodations booked. We will be flying into Varadero so will only be staying two nights to get bikes set up and oriented a little. We are planning to stay in casa particulairs(low key B&B's) for the most part and booking in advance is always a little dodgy as if they have someone show up just before us with cash in hand, understandably they take it over something "uncertain". I have one booked and another address that is apparently open so we'll cross our fingers and head downon that.