Sta Clara – Sancti Spiritus

During my two night stopover as a guest of Elsa and Sergio, I feel they have become good friends. On the second evening, they invited me to supper, opened a bottle of Cuban wine (sweet, like an oloroso sherry), brought out the beer, and refused to charge me. In the company of an Argentinian couple, we talked for hours, me stifling my amusement at the Argentinian accent…..which I find very funny. 

Alone in the company of Elsa and Sergio, they plied me with questions, especially about my bike trips, but as I put details on some of the trips, I could see in their eyes a sad longing for all the opportunities they have missed out on. They were children of the revolution, and they’ve known nothing else. They have borne the restrictions and deprivations all their lives, but they never uttered a single negative word about it…..obviously great believers in all the revolution stood for. The ‘special period’ in the 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was especially difficult. They had lost their only trading partner in the world, which meant their economy collapsed, and the shortages were so acute that the average body weight of Cubans dropped by 10%. Fighting their own battles, with no friends in the commercial world, means that if a crop fails, there is nothing to replace it. For instance, after the recent hurricane Irma, fruit crops were completely destroyed, meaning that they simply had to do without. At that moment bananas, the cyclist’s best friend, are completely off the menu…..but my breakfasts have still included papaya, guava, pineapple and orange… things are improving.

Sergio has expressed a serious interest in having my bike, especially since he had his stolen a few months ago. He likes to take his grandson about on a special kiddy seat he made of wood, and he is prepared to travel to pick it up ……so watch this space. I feel he will be a very worthy recipient.

Much of today’s 87km route was on a nicely surfaced country road, allowing me a couple of convenient pitstops in villages. But even better than that, a ‘cold front’ had come in, meaning the temperature had actually dropped to 20C, and the wind was generally behind me (in good panto tradition, of course)….it was a huge relief not having the sweat pouring off me for the whole ride. When it is hot in Cuba, it can be oppressively hot…..especially for cycling.

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 14, 2018, in Cycling Cuba and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. He does indeed sound like a worthy recipient, and how lovely to be part of a Cuban ‘familia’ for a few days. Are you dropping your Spanish ‘th’?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 20C – I could just about manage to cycle in that . I remember kayaking on Poland in 1989 just after the wall came down – the shortages were very acute then but it is amazing the resilience of people. So glad to be able to follow your trip like this

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agree, a worthy recipient for the bike, I think a good lock is also required. Chain & padlock will probably be more available than a cycle lock.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Niobe, as you’ll see in the next post, lots think I’m a gallego…..precisely because of the ceceo…..


  5. Now that they all seem healthily up to weight, even overweight at times, the shortage days are just memories….but painful memories for some.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cycle locks are very scarce here, and are too expensive for many.


  7. We have sleet here. Would you like to swap?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Err……err…..difficult that one…😁. I have to say, when it is unbearably hot and airless, mirages of snow and ice do enter the brain…


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