Guantanamo to Campismo Río Yacoba – 76.2 km

Last night, I read until nine, then slept until nearly 6:30 this morning. Five days of riding has taken its toll. I was feeling pretty beat last night. My legs were tight and I felt weary. A long sleep and a good breakfast has done the trick though and today should be one of the shortest days yet.

We are going to make a late start, after the shops have opened. Juliette wants to replace her hairbrush and we should stock up on a bit of food. I don’t think there will be much in the mountains tomorrow.

We didn’t feel like pumping so many litres of water today, so we filled our bottles from the tap at the Casa. We then walked into town to the Pan American to buy a hairbrush and emergency food supplies – two cans of sausage, two cans of pears and two packs of cookies. It will be a nutritious lunch.

We rode southeast out of Guantanamo at about 9:30 am into a brisk headwind. The mountains in front of us grew closer and larger as we crossed the plain, then at about 25 km we began climbing over the mountains once again.

15 kms later, we came down out of the mountains to the ocean and happened across what looked like a deserted beach resort. The guidebook describes Playa Yateritas as a defunct resort, but a man was waving at us. We were hot and wanted a cold drink, so we rode in. Sure enough, it was nearly deserted, but open.

We went upstairs to a massive room overlooking the beach with paint peeling from the ceiling and a long empty bar, big enough for hundreds of people. A few tables were set out at one end of the room near the windows and one was set as if for us.

We sat down, were brought ice cold colas and menus in English. Once again, we had fried chicken and rice.

In the middle of the empty floor, three small potted plants sit. Five table cloths hang from the walls as art and a few placemats are tacked up on the pillars. The bar is art deco in style with a warped wood veneer and chipped marble at its base. This must have once been a beautiful place, and we wonder to each other if anyone finds their way here anymore.

Every table and chair has a number painted on it. Probably an inventory of the meagre assets. We ask the waiter if there are usually more people here and he tells us that there are hundreds on the weekends, both tourists and people who drive down from Guantanamo for the beach.

A kilometre further down the road, we pass another beautiful open air restaurant by the beach. The road follows the coast and is relatively flat. The beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean are on our right, small cliffs riddled with overhangs and caves are on our left.

About 15 km further, the road turns inland again and the afternoon heat becomes oppressive without the cooling wind off the ocean. Our tap water tastes of mold, so we are not drinking as much as we should. Still the ride goes quickly today.

It is our sixth day of riding and we feel strong. A rest day would be nice, maybe tomorrow at the campismo or the next day at Baracoa?

We arrived at Campismo Río Yacabo before 4pm. Even though there are eight or nine people working, we are the only guests. It is a pretty place overlooking the sea. The cabanas are simple, two story buildings with shuttered windows and simple beds. Music blares at a painful volume for the workers in the compound as they make repairs or lounge in the office.

Juliette managed to find a few beer and we sit catching up on the day as the sun sinks to the horizon. Chickens peck on our patio, goats bleat and chew at the plants. Two young twin girls dressed in identical pink outfits chase each other and play.

There isn’t much food here, so we have to negotiate what we will have for dinner and if there is enough for breakfast. I wish I could speak more Spanish. I feel cut off from the people and their stories. Between the two of us, we can get directions, check in to a hotel and order meals. Beyond this, we are quickly left behind saying ‘no entiendo.’ The hour and a half of Spanish lessons on CD that I listened to helped, but they are not even close to enough. Next time, I will do more, but then again, I said that last time.

Juliette crawled under the mosquito net at 7pm while I pumped water for 45 minutes. Thankfully the music was turned off, and with the net keeping the bugs at bay, it is actually a pleasant, if not hot, place to sleep.

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