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Published: January 28th 2019
Cuba Day 5 Friday
A good nights sleep for me in the Classic Vueltabajo Hotel in Pinar del Rio. Room average but comfortable, others fared a bit worse I heard. The previous evening meal was very good, as have all meals so far. Salad, rice and beans, pork, chicken and other meats. I think they are trying tpyfatten us up.
Today 26%, cloudy and wet at times but rain not as hard as yesterday, although glad of rain jackets. The roads were filthy and we were like drowned, filthy rats at the end of the day in the village of Pons and 100k of riding. Still loads of ponies with carts and several with men on board with lassos hooked on the saddle. Cuba, a country of contrasts with two boys and one man seen today barefoot and yet several young people on smart phones. We have become accustomed now to people shouting Hola (Hello) at us from the roadside. Today I was cycling along and heard a shout and responded with Hola only to look back and see it was a goat. Was it a language thing or senility on its rampage? I heard another shout later on and thought
it was local children shouting at us only to see it was Lismar, our guide, chasing after Richard W and myself who had gone ahead and missed the turning. I don’t know how he caught us as we were on a roll and were time trialling along at a ferocious pace. Never mind, what is another 6km in rain on atrocious roads. Another trouble was that we had crossed two wooden bridges with slats across which were a bit sloppy and flexible. Near the end of the ride as I descended a dip in the road at speed I came across a gap of about 2 feet all the way across. Not having had the chance to slow down I jumped the gap but it created a big jolt and my bar bag shot up in the air and I almost lost my camera.
The first half of the day was spent going to a tobacco farm 20km away from Pinar del Rio which produces tobacco leaves for cigars. It is amazing how complicated a proces it is and all done by hand apart from the land cultivation. They are allowed to keep 10% of their crop and the rest
must be sold to the Government in the form of big bales. Just a few tried to smoke one with limited success. Talking of smoke the old lorries here are physically sound but the engines are underpowered and the exhaust fumes are atrocious. At least the abundance of ponies helps keep the air clean. The farms here are very small and fertile producing all sorts of vegetables, rice, sugar cane, tobacco etc. There are areas of scrubland, especially near the coast. I foolishly left my sponge bag in Havana but luckily I brought shampoo, soap, toothpaste and brushes to give away so I am ok for that but I had no spare shaver. Luckily Shirley had a spare ‘Ladyshave’ with her, which she has lent me. The only trouble is it keeps sneaking to my armpits.
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