Leaving Santiago de Cuba I passed through an industrial area which I believe was an oil refinery. When I passing through the town of Mar Verde I passed by a local guy out riding his bicycle. He seemed to take interest in my unusual bicycle setup. For about 1km he followed closely behind me, but never passed me. After a while he caught up to me and began to ride beside me. We began to talk. He was a young guy that worked as a machinist at the refinery. In his spare time he enjoyed riding his bicycle in the countryside. He had bought a frame, aquired some forks and handlebars and fabricated many of the other parts like the hubs and cranks. I shared that I was trying to ride across the country. He decided that he would accompany me for the day. Just like that I had a new friend and bicycling partner.
We rode along the southern coast for about 50km. There were a number of mid-sized hills. I only had to get off my bicycle and push once. I think that having a riding buddy encouraged me to ride over some of the steeper hills that I normally would have walked. It also helped me to push through the pain in my butt that I was experiencing due to a little saddle soreness.
Across from the park was the Communist Party office.
After my meal, I went back to the park to relax a bit. While I was resting I met two other travelers. They were an Italian couple that has been traveling around the Caribbean as crew on a sailboat during the sailing season. Now that the huricane season was approaching, the sailing season was ending. They were thinking of moving to the north east coast of Brazil to open a hostal or B&B. We had a pleasnt conversation in Spanish about traveling, sailing and operating B&B. I shared my experience with airbnb and they were contemplating using it.
The Italian couple put me in contact with a local jentero (fixer) who helped me locate a casa particular. The place wasn't great, but the hosts were nice, accommodating and it was a place to sleep for the night.
The next day I got up early and began riding. The weather was cooperating.
On the right was the Sierra Maestra mountains.
On the left was the coast and the broken and crumbling carretera.