Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sancti Spiritus to Trinidad - Countryside, Cattle, Carts and a Cathedral

After a few interesting days in Sancti Spiritus I continued westward. This part of Cuba might be considered the bread basket of the country. In other words, it seemed as if this part of the country had very rich farm and ranch land. To the north there were mountains. To the south there were beaches. In between there were acres of flat green pastures.
There was some traffic on the road. This horse drawn carriage was actually traveling at a pretty good pace. They passed me first. Then I sped up my cadence to keep pace. Then I finally passed them. I don't think that they realized that they were part of the race, otherwise I'm sure that they could have easily out distanced me.
After about 8km of pedaling I came across a small town. There were a number of school children walking on the streets on the way to school. I saw a number of the children running up to this roadside cafe. I decided to check out what all the excitement was about. It appeared that many of the school children were enjoying their morning breakfast at this cafe. Most of the people were ordering pan y refrescos (bread and juice). Then I heard one kid order a pan con juevo (bread and egg). I'd only had a light breakfast of two bananas and water, so I thought that a pan con juevo y refesco would be nice. The breakfast really hit the spot and it only cost me 15 pesos or about 60 cents. 
I continued riding through some very scenic areas. There were cows lounging on hillsides with palm trees in the background.
There was a little traffic on the road.
I passed by this lone bicycle parked along the road. The owner was no where to be seen. I'm guessing that he was a farmer tending his field. In this area of Cuban I'm guessing that no one would have to worry about a thief stealing their bicycle. It would take them miles and miles to get away. Plus, the local bicycles were not really designed for long distance riding. Often the tires and tubes on the bicycles were home made and often separated or punctured.
In many countries seeing an old 1950 era automobile on the road would attract attention. In Cuba it is pretty much just the average taxi.
I passed by this field of workers harvesting a crop. The one worker in the center noticed me riding by and began signaling me with his arms. He then yelled at me. I could not understand what he was saying because he was still quite far away. So I paused. He was inviting me to join them in their work. In hind sight, I probably should have stopped and joined them. It would have been an unique opportunity to hear their stories and experience their lifestyle. However, I knew that I had a full day of riding before me to reach my next destination. I continued on.

The road between Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad was mostly flat with some undulating hills. I passed by a billboard advertising the City of Trinidad. Lots of hype about Trinidad.
Before I would reach Trinidad I passed though an area known as the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Mills) This valley previously held large plantations and sugar mills.
The Valley of the Sugar Mills, is a series of three interconnected valleys about 12 km (7.5 mi) outside of Trinidad, Cuba. The three valleys, San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer, were a center for sugar production from the late 18th century until the late 19th century. At the peak of the industry in Cuba there were over fifty sugar cane mills in operation in the three valleys, with over 30,000 slaves working in the mills and on the sugar cane plantations that surrounded them.
Along the road there was this roadside marker that indicated that I was approaching Trinidad. I thought to myself that if the roadside marker was this nice, than I could hardly wait to see the city.
The bicycle ride between Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad was about 70km. I had already traveled about 50km and it was just past the middle of the day. It was a hot and humid day. I was tired, so I found this bus stop and made good use of the shade. I ate some of my food, drank some of my water and took a little siesta.
Refreshed and refueled I set back out on the road. I still had about 19km to reach Trinidad.
The view really opened up and I could see the valley below. However, I paid a price for this view. The cost of seeing this scenic overlook meant that I had to ride up and over some rather steep hills.
At one point, I found myself in a little competition against this farmer driving a horse and wagon. He was hauling some rather large bags of produce. I'm not really sure what was inside of the bags, but the wagon was fully loaded. I probably followed him for about 3km from a distance up and down the hills. I could see him ahead of me, but I could never catch up to him. On the downhills I would gain ground, but on the uphills I would fall behind. I'm not very strong at peddling uphill. Unlike the previous wagon driver I think that this driver knew that I was trying to pass him. When I sped up, he would speed up. When I slowed down, he would slow down. On the tallest hill of the route I finally passed him. We glanced at each other and smiled. He looked at me and said, "fuerte." I looked back at him and replied, "fuerte, fuerte."At the top of the tallest hill there was a restaurant, tower and scenic overlook called the Iznaga Tower. I was anxious to see the city so I did not stop to climb the tower. I continued on my way.
Once I finally arrived into Trinidad I had to dismount my bicycle. The roads were paved mostly with cobble stone which made it difficult to manage my bicycle. As I walked down a long boulevard to the city center a number of people offered me a place to stay. They always started at 30CUC ($30), then would go down to 20CUC, then finally 15CUC. By the time that I reached the city center where I wanted to stay I already knew how much a room would cost me. I found a casa particular 30 feet from the Plaza Major (Main Square) for 15CUC called the Hospedaje Mercedes Cano Gonzales.
I rested for a while, then took a walk around the town.

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