Pinar del Río-Los Vinales

Accessing the internet is a curious business in Cuba. One thing that stands out is that Cubans are never seen using their devices along streets, in restaurants, or even at home. Why? Because there is no home provision of wifi for anyone other than important public servants, and there is definitely no mobile data for anyone. To get online, everyone has to buy a data card, costing at least £1 per hour, and they can only connect at hotspots, usually in small parks and public squares. The big question is: how to find the hotspots, because they are not signed in anyway. I’m sure you’ve already worked this one out……..yep, look for clusters of people intently using their devices. That is the only way….. Despite these restrictions, many Cubans seem to be very internet savvy, and everyone under a certain age (40, perhaps) will have a smartphone. But, of course, smartphones are not very smart in Cuba…..yet.

Talking of deprivations, the variety of food and consumer goods probably reflects what rationing was like for us in the last war. I have been in a number of little village stores looking for a snack and the shelves have been empty. If you do find a packet of biscuits, maybe even with a filling, the price will so high for the average Cuban that it will only ever be a treat. Don’t get me wrong, no one is underfed, but choice is extremely limited, making eating sometimes a boring repetitive experience…..but not for the average tourists, of course. This is a fairly typical breakfast, and never lacking in abundance.
 As a chocoholic, can I service my addiction in Cuba? Definitely not….I have yet to see any chocolate of any description in places where the locals shop.

As I climbed over the Sierra to Los Vinales, I caught this pig skulking by the roadside, appearing not to belong to anyone.

And as I crested the mountain, I was treated to this view of the famous mogotes of the Valley….so famous, they attract the tour companies with their hordes of tourists. 

And I, like every other tourist, don’t regard myself as one of those….No, no, of course not…..after all I do ride a bike. Erm……d’you think I might have a complex?

And sorry to bore you with bike issues again. One of the ‘new’ pedals stripped the threads off one of the cranks…..I eventually found a bunch of young bike mechanics who eventually found a solution…..another crank. They got one by asking around the neighbourhood….they are resourceful bunch of people.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 11, 2018, in Cycling Cuba and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I remember being in Poland in 1989 – the wall had just come down so our visa money was returned – the small shops in towns had virtually nothing in. if you wanted to buy something specific you had to trail around looking everywhere as shops sold what they could get hold of. We had been told of the shortages before hand so took everything with us and left the surplus behind. They too were a very resourceful people as were people here in the 1940- 1950’s. Shortages makes people think and be creative. loving your posts Frank

    • Remarkable parallels there…..and of course, the fall of the wall was the beginning of Cuba’s ‘special period’…..food became extremely scarce….almost famine conditions.

  2. Cacao is grown in Cuba, and we bought some chocolate when in Cuba. Quality variable. Most likely to find in larger places. Best of luck.

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