Campismo Río Yacoba to Baracoa – 76.0 km

We woke this morning at ten to six to a knock at the door. Our breakfast was ready. The cook had decided that we should be on the road early because of all the hills ahead.

We were packed and on the road before seven. We enjoyed a cool 20km ride through Imias and along the coast. We then turned north and began the 17km climb to the highest point, Alto de Cotilla. Much of the climb was in the morning shade and only about 3kms were really steep and winding.

I am so glad that we got an early start though. It would have been brutal in the full heat of the day. As we climbed, the terrain became more lush and the air became more humid. Along the road, Cubans sold small bananas, oranges and cucurucho, a sweet mixture wrapped in banana leaves.

We hoped to have cold drinks at Alto de Cotilla, but all they had was cigarrettes and refressco, which is a sweet mixed drink like cool-aide, but you never know where the water came from. We had plenty of water, so we moved on, enjoying the cooling wind as we descended.

We had hoped for a long easy descent on this side of the mountain, but we had to work for it. For every descent, there was another climb. It passed quickly though with the beautiful mountainous tropical scenery. Before we knew it, we were at Paso de Cuba and began the final 15km ride into Baracoa.

The city is not what we were told to expect. There are no jinteros (hustlers) waiting and calling at us. No-one attempts to lead us to casas. It is actually a pleasant place. We ride into town along the waterfront and easily find the casa we are looking for. Unfortunately, it is full, so she walks us down the street to one she recommends. A room is available, we just need to wait for it to be made up. We left our bikes and bags behind, then head across the street to the Hotel Encanto La Ruse for lunch. This beautiful yellow hotel overlooking the ocean was opened by a Russian émigré and dancer who was active in the Cuban revolution and even hosted Fidel and Che Guivara.

After eating, I went to pay, only to discover that my wallet with my passport, visa, credit card and some of our money is not in my handlebar bag. My bike has not been out of my sight all day and I haven’t had my wallet out since this morning, so I don’t know how it is missing. I know it was there when I left in the morning and now it is not. I don’t think it was stolen. The only thing that I can think is that maybe the neck strap caught on my camera when I was taking it out and somhow I didn’t see it fall out. Or maybe when I was taking a picture, my handlebars tilted and it dropped out?

I don’t remember anything like this happening. I feel like an idiot and I feel vulnerable. We search our bags just in case, but we know that it is in vain. We walk to the police station to report it missing. He doesn’t ask us where we are staying, so we have no hope of it returning. He types out a report on an ancient typewriter and gives us the only copy. At least we will have that to get a replacement.

Next we find the communications office near the square, go online to get the number for the Canadian Consolate. There is an office in Guardalavaca, to place we are planning on ending our trip, perfect luck. I call the consulate there and in Havana, but they are gone for the day and I can only leave a message. Our casa has no phone, so I just leave my information and say that I will call back. We call and cancel the Visa card, then head for a couple of beer to de-stress.

Thank god we have photocopies of our passports. Foreigners cannot stay in hotels or casa particulares in Cuba without one and our host was very worried when we returned.

It looks like everything will be ok though. We are probably going to spend another day here in Baracoa. We are tired and need the rest after seven days on the road. It will also give me a chance to call the consulate and set things in motion before the weekend.

Now we just need to focus on enjoying our trip and not letting this spoil things. It is these things that make for interesting stories when we make it back, but to be honest, I could do without this story.

Sitting at dinner tonight, I figured it out. We stopped just outside of the city to decide where to stay tonight. I took my wallet out to get the card for the case that had been recommended. I must have left it there. We were tired and dehydrated, so I probably wasn’t thinking too clearly. I will ride back in the morning and ask around. I doubt it will turn up, but we can try.

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