Punta Piedra to Chivirico – 108.0 km

I slept fairly well last night despite the rocks in my back. I thought I heard something in the night, got up and grabbed my flashlight, but didn’t see anything.

We awoke in the morning to a beautiful sunrise over the Caribbean. We washed and dressed as the sun rose and then noticed that one of Juliette’s panniers was missing. I guess I did hear something. It had my helmet, her wash kit, camera charger and worst of all $300 CUC. We had split our money up and spread it out. I had also placed all of our panniers under our bikes beside us, but I guess one was sticking out enough to pull out quietly.

We rode back to Punta Piedra for breakfast. Some of the stuff from the packs was strewn along the road, only food wrappers, but this is the way they came. The Canadian man and another French man were sitting in the restaurant with their prostitutes. Cubans were sitting at the bar drinking. I don’t think I like this place even though a breakfast of eggs, fruit and bread goes down really well.

We bought two more bottles of water and set off east with Juliette’s bike a bit lighter today. Past Maréa del Portillo, the good road turned left, but we carried on straight down a worn road through mangrove swamps. Then suddenly the road cut through a headland and broke out onto the beautiful beach. The road is washed out in places along the coast and rock fall has blocked it in places, but the pavement is smooth and easy going. The road follows the beach, climbs up around headlands and at one place made a steep 2km climb up to a spectacular view.

After the 2km race back down, we stopped in the shade by a bridge for a rest. From there, the road continued to climb and descend. In places it was badly washed out and the waves were breaking right up to the road. In other places, we had to walk our bikes because the rocks or sand was too unstable to ride. We crossed one high bridge, buckled and collapsing in the middle like a remnant of a war. We went across one at a time, although I don’t know what we would have done if it had collapsed.

At 61km, we came to Campismo La Mula, a nice shaded Cuban camp near the water. Several dozen Cuban teenagers had their bags packed and were waiting for busses home. The end of their school vacation?

We sat under a palm cabana and debated whether or not we should stay here for the night or push on to the all inclusive hotels near Chivirico. It is pleasant and cool here, but it would be nice to nock another 40km off a long ride tomorrow. I admit, an all inclusive resort also sounds appealing right now, but then again, so does an afternoon lying in the shade and swimming in the river.

Lunch is taking forever to come. We will decide when it finally does. There is one thing on the menu, beef, I hope it is good since we don’t normally eat beef. We decided before this trip to eat whatever is available.

The beef, rice and roasted red peppers were amazing. They were almost good enough to make us stay. As we finished, two Germans pulled in on touring bikes and registered for the evening. They said hi as they passed and told us they would return after they settled in their cabin, but we want to get back on the road and headed out before they got back.

Juliette rode like the wind. She had visions of an all inclusive resort in her head and nothing could slow her down, even the first large hill out of Mula. Most of the road to Chivirico was flat and we had a bit of a tail wind, so we made good time. The last 7km however was up and down with one huge climb before we raced down into town.

We could see the Hotel Los Galeones high up on a hill above town and our hearts sank. One more steep climb and we didn’t even know if they had a room.  The road was the steepest and the most rutted we have done yet. A few of the pot holes nearly threw me into the trees, but somehow I made it, sweating and panting.

They had a room! I was so happy, I ran down the hill to help Juliette up the last bit. Los Galeones is a nice place. It is quiet and tasteful, if not a bit expensive, but that can be expected as it is all inclusive and it gives you access to this hotel and the Sierra-Mar up the road. We will leave our armbands on in the morning and stop there on our way out.

After showering, washing our clothes and hanging them out to dry, we headed out to the pool for cervezas, snacks and relaxation. Nearly everyone here is Canadian. We met to a couple from Toronto, and Nancy, a retired gym teacher from Elliote Lake who spends three months here every year. We talked to Ken and Peggy for over an hour. They have been coming here for 13 years. They both grew up in Hamilton and now live in Orillia.

Ken and Peggy gave us advise on hotels in Santiago de Cuba and told us about the area. We then sat waiting for dinner at 7pm, drinking cervezas and updating our journals.

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