Banes to Play Pequero – 59.5km

Last night in the square in Banes, we met an American with a touring bike. He was big, loud and Texan. He didn’t want to hear anything about the road ahead or our story, he only wanted to forcefully regale us with his epic stories of his tour so far, his bike and his mishaps.

He had already done the tour from Havanna to the western end of the island. Halfway through, his rear rim cracked and he couldn’t get a replacement. He left his bike there, caught a cab back to Havanna, then a plan back to Texas via the Caymens and bought a new wheel at his local bike shop. He then turned around and headed all the way back to continue his tour!

Once he completed the western tour, he caught a flight from Havanna to Holguin to begin the eastern tour that we are doing, only in the opposite direction. I looked at his rear wheel with a 700×23 road racing tire and didn’t have the heart to tell him how bad the roads ahead were, not that he would have heard because he had seen it all.

He said that he had planned on staying in Guadalavaca that night, but that all the hotels were booked up. With this thought weighing us down, we set off early once again so that we could make it to Holguin if we ran into the same luck.

The ride out of town was beautiful with the sun rising behind us and casting a rich orange light on everything. The road went north through rolling hills and lush bananna groves. By eight thirty, we had reached the high point in the center of this part of the island and were flying down the hills towards the coast laughing with the joy of it.

By nine thirty I was standing in the lobby of the first hotel in Guadalavaca; they were booked solid. The same thing was repeated at every hotel along the coast and we were soon on the road again for Playa Esmeralda. We received the same response at all the hotels there and began steeling ourselves for the ride to Holguin.

We have both worked so hard getting around the island and we were so looking forward to a few days at a resort. Having the final reward of the best beaches in Cuba denied us was hard to face. We tried to look on the bright side though, we could continue our tour a bit and see more of the country.

We discussed our options as we turned off the main road again 15 km later at Playa Pequero. The first hotel gave us the expected answer and we moved on to the second. At Blau Costa Verde, the clerk said he wasn’t sure if they had anything because they were booked, but that he would check with his manager. He went into the back and came out with good news, they could give us a room for at least one night.

Even though all the hotels are fully booked by tour groups, they keep a few rooms available in case there are problems with a guests room and they need to be switched. I think we were either there at the right time of the day, or they took pity on us.

Juliette was outside watching the bikes. She looked like she had lost her puppy as I tried to look unsuccessful. When I finally told her that we had a room, she jumped up and down laughing and yipping like a little girl who got a pony for her birthday.

We spent the afternoon swimming in the Caribean, drinking the complimentary drinks, watching all the people, reading and just relaxing. We will see what tomorrow brings.

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