So today was the cycle from Sancti Spiritus to Trinidad. This, I decided very early on was going to be a good day – and so it has proved to be.
Cerveza and ‘Son’
‘Currently sipping another ice-cold cerveza listening to live ‘son’ music. Admittedly it’s a very touristy bar, but that is in fact providing me with the most amusement. Fortunately, I managed to persuade the token old Cuban geezer at the bar that I didn’t want to dance right now, but maybe later (he doesn’t know how much later) – and he’s now found another unsuspecting lass to dance with.
So yes, slowly, las tourisiticas are getting up to dance – they’ve clearly had some lessons because they’re all trying out their moves – but really – white people can’t dance!’
Ok, so back to the start of the day…
Rules and the Clock
Once again, up fairly early to get on the bike before it’s too hot – I’m turning into a bit of a stickler for routine it seems, or maybe I always have been and have never noticed in my life that’s ruled by the clock and well, rules and obligations – getting up for work, like so many others in the UK with their 9-to-5 desk jobs. In the UK, when you’re going about you weekly routine, you forget that the majority of the world’s population, many Cubans included, don’t know such a thing as ‘9-to-5’ or ‘desk job’.
The Three Amigos
Only a few km’s out of Sancti Spiritus and I sense someone cycling up next to me… surely that’s not possible (the momentum gained with a loaded bike while pedalling downhill is significant). But yes, I looked over and there was a young Cuban (16 it turns out) kitted out in lycra, spd’s, racing bike – from Italy no less – the whole shibang.
And moments later, there wasn’t just one of them, but three!
Clearly they could pedal much faster than me – they were young, extremely fit, used to the heat, had bikes for the job and no luggage -they were just out on their regular training ride.
For the next 30km mas o menos, they rode beside me chatting away…. my responses being ‘no entiendo’ mostly, but it didn’t seem to matter. Initially I kind of hoped they would continue on past and leave me in peace to enjoy the scenery, but that wish didn’t last long.
I lost momentum as the downhill turned into a slight incline and I rapidly slowed as the hill got steeper. Next moment, a force on my back, which initially unbalanced me, soon made the pedalling much easier and I begin to pick up the pace again. Julio, the youngest and so probably most enamoured of the three, had cycled over and proceeded to push me all the way. ‘Brilliant! I can make the most of this,’ I thought.
After several miles, which literally flew by, I started to feel a little guilty – I was clearly slowing these guys up from their training. I thanked them for their company and helping hand, and told them to go on without me. They weren’t having any of it, and I soon shut up as we started on the next incline.
I did however need a break, to top up my water and have breakfast. So I stopped in the next small town to do just that and take some photos, while my three amigos pedalled on through. I felt a little sad to be leaving them as I rather enjoyed their company.
Feeling refreshed, I hopped back on the bike and as I was leaving town, who emerged from a shady cluster of trees but my Cuban biking buddies. And off we cycled together until they reached their target and turned round, leaving me to finish the ride to Trinidad alone.
Needless to say, with the company and help up the hills meant I got to Trinidad in very good time – even stopping for photos and a short detour to the Torre de Ignaza for some wonderful views.
While trying to find the casa I was accosted by my first jinetero, although I didn’t realise it until the casa owner Odalys came out onto the street, saw me and shooed him away with the threat of la policia being made.
Following a warm welcome, a glass of fresh juice and a shower I headed into Trinidad for a wander. It’s not a large town and it has a friendly atmosphere, although there are more tourists here than any of the other towns I’ve passed through in Central Cuba.
Upon wandering through the ‘casco historico’, I chanced upon a small museum and although not particularly informative, it did have a bell tower which I climbed up and was rewarded with some great views of the town and surrounding hills. While up the bell tower, I also bumped into an Aussie couple and a Californian couple. This was my first encounter with English-speakers since my first night in Havana. Fantastic – my Spanish left a lot to be desired and although I could understand a reasonable amount, I was certainly struggling with the distinct Cuban dialect.
I arranged to meet up with my new-found friends for drinks later. That’s one of the things about travelling – you don’t need to have much in common with someone to get on well – just having an interest in seeing the world is enough, and having a common language in a foreign country is even better.
Back in the bar watching the white tourists definitely not looking good on the dance floor, it wasn’t long before i was joined by the old geezer who had been trying to get me to dance. It wasn’t long after, and I was joined by a number of other old men who had been sitting at the back, enjoying the entertainment provided on the dance floor. No more fly-on-the-wall for me, I was well and truly part of the scene, and so finished my beer and made a quick exit.
On leaving the scene, I ran into the Aussie couple who were about to enter to that same bar I had been fleeing from. Instead of a bar, we headed up the back streets, out of the old town to the ruins of an old 18th century Spanish military hospital for the view over Trinidad at sunset.
A beautiful end to a beautiful day.