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Published: April 3rd 2016
Last time I wrote a blog entry, I was in Laos, not knowing that again, my plans would change dramatically. The month I spent in Laos was memorable for good and bad reasons: too make a long story short, we lived a great big adventure in very, very remote areas, discovered fascinating cultures, hiked in the jungle, visited villages that never see any foreigners, spent the night in traditional houses, rafted down a river on a bamboo raft, to list a few of the things we did. But things changed dramatically a few days after a tick bit my colleague. The tick infected her with Scrub typhus, and because of the delay in treatment, additional complications worsened the situation to a point where without her initial fitness and strong will, she would not have survived. Almost at the same time, my 102 year old grandmother passed away, and all that put together made me go back home to recuperate...
But since there is no cure for the travel bug, after a few weeks, the desire to travel again came back. I bought a new touring bike and joined a friend who was going to Cuba for 10 days. Actually, it
wasn't even a friend at the time, we had only swum together at the municipal pool for a few weeks and hardly ever talked before he mentioned he was going to Cuba... But sometimes life is like that: planets align, Jean (an previous Ironman-racer) invited me to join him, and he proved to be a fantastic travel companion!
It had been years since I went to Cuba, but I had always wanted to cycle there. Since the weather was still cold and wintery in Southern Quebec, the timing was great to go south to try my new bike. So we flew to Cuba with our bikes and started our bike trip from the airport in Varadero. We did not cover huge distances every day, except for a few, but we certainly enjoyed the daily rides, especially in the morning when it was cooler. Cycling in the afternoon was hard because the sun was so strong. Somehow we also managed to get headwinds most of the time! Murphy's law... But it didn't matter, we were cycling!
Cuba is an amazing place to bike, there is so many possibilities: flat, hilly, very hilly, head wind, tail wind, side wind, you
name it! The roads are generally good and there are many small roads with little traffic and lots of casas particulares where cyclists can stay. As always, Cubans were very welcoming and friendly and it was great to reactivate my forgotten Spanish. I even had the chance to visit my old Spanish teacher in Cienfuegos, she is now 70 years old, but still young at heart.
Some of the highlights: Playa Larga where we spent 2 nights in a very pleasant casa near the beach but in a rural setting; from there we also had the chance to go twice to a local fiesta. Caleta buena where we snorkelled in a little cove but also in a natural pool full of fish: it was really like swimming in an aquarium. Jovellanos, a small town where the only official casa was full, but where we were unofficially hosted by a Cuban woman and her Belgian friend. Thanks to them, we did not have to spend the night in the other unofficial and very "questionable" casa of Jovellanos... Cienfuegos, where we spent a couple of nights in one of our most quiet and pleasant colonial casa right in front of the
bay, hosted by a lovely Cuban woman. And to top it up: our last night in Varadero in yet another beautiful casa next to the beach, that looked like an old castle, with our own, huge, private terrace, real shower, and friendly hosts.
Simple pleasures: being active, eating healthy food (fabulous breakfasts), laughing, exploring, meeting new people and enjoying the sun. I felt so relaxed, happy, healthy. Returning home is a little hard: cold wind, snow, computer, being indoors, etc. Well, I guess we can't always be on holiday! But this was a fantastic 10 days, that generate new ideas and projects...
I hardly took any picture on this trip, but will try to add new ones when I receive them from Jean and people we met in Cuba!
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