It's all relative, relatively speaking - We'll Follow the Sun - CycleBlaze

February 4, 2019 to February 5, 2019

It's all relative, relatively speaking

So, what does it mean to you when someone says (or writes) “it’s fairly flat” the whole way.  I find that it is all relative.  Relative to what that writer or speaker thinks of as flat, relative to whether they are actually cycling or driving a car, relative to how I am feeling about that day too, I guess.  

Our ride from Playa El Fraile to Matanzas was no so long, about 40 km from what I could gather, and the book I used as our guide for this portion of the trip mentions it as “fairly flat”, a term I have come to question from other rides, so I was prepared mentally for it to be somewhat not flat and that turned out to be the case.  We began early, packing up the bikes quickly and saying goodbye to Ernie before heading out into the morning which was cool and thankfully not windy.  We rode past our lovely beaches before heading up a hill and onto the Via Blanca, which was not busy at all.

There was a lovely mist lying in the valleys as we rode by enjoying the views of verdant farmland on our right with occasional glimpses of the ocean on our left.  What a lovely way to cycle!

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Eventually, we began climbing.  It was pretty gradual with long long hills that were not really a struggle but kept our speed about the same as it was in the wind the other day.  On one particularly long hill, we stopped to view this flue venting gas we think.  I had never seen anything like it live and the sound in the early morning of the intense flame burning was eery.

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At the top of the long long hill, we came to the pullout for the very well known (to people who have been here on vacation) Bacunayagua lookout.  Apparently the view from the top is quite amazing, as are the piña coladas.  However, as it was 10:00 in the morning, we opted to stop instead at the coffee shop by the highway, saving the lookout and drinks for our return next week some time.  While getting our coffee, we met a couple from Vancouver who were staying in Varadero for the winter – seems to be a bit of a theme, don’t you think?

Finished with our little break, we headed down the road.  In my head it was more or less downhill from here to Matanzas, but that turned out not to be the case.  We continued over gently rolling hills until the very last 4 kms over which we dropped 120 meters.  Should be a fun ride when we come back!

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What a gorgeous view!
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We pulled off at the historical part of town and found a square with wifi (obvious by the numerous people with their heads down looking at their phones).  We joined them to first check in with the world since we’ve been without wifi for several days, and then to check for locations of places to stay while here.  Once we had an idea of where the main square was and a couple of hotels, we began walking up a cobble stoned street that was closed to traffic.  Immediately we were stopped by a fellow wearing a Che t-shirt.  Guy, from Quebec, has been staying here for several months and encouraged us to stop in at the Casa where he is staying just a few meters from where we stood.  The Casa only has three rooms and the other was also occupied by a Canadian, so we thought, why not?  It turned out to be such a fortunate choice as our room is quiet, the bed comfortable and there is a little courtyard just outside our room where breakfast is served.  And bonus of all bonuses, there is wifi!!!  Right from our room!!!!  It is amazing!!!!  Sorry, I’m just a little excited about the prospect of comfortably working on blog posts over the next couple of days instead of sitting in a hotel lobby or a park.

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Guy (pronounced Gee with a hard g). What a nice guy!
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We unpacked our gear and headed out to check out the town.  In the books I have with me (both published almost 20 years ago) Matanzas does not come out sounding like a great place to hang out, but I have to say that in that time, things have changed here.  Now there are many older buildings that have been restored and there is a lovely lovely river walk as well.  We were very impressed and looked forward to spending some time tomorrow checking out more of the town.  One place in particular that needed a return visit was an open art studio where the artist, Adrian Socorro, was just getting ready to head home when we stopped by.  He let us look around and we loved some of his work, particularly the bike paintings.  We told him we would stop by again tomorrow and headed back out to enjoy our lovely evening stroll along the river.

Hotel lobby
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Iced coffee? You bet!
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A pretty little town square
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Now who can resist a cow? Gotta come back tomorrow for sure!
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Across the river
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We retired to our quiet little room for a perfect night’s rest, looking forward to a relaxing day tomorrow.

Feb 5

Good thing we had set breakfast for 9:00!  We didn’t even stir until 8:30!  Also a good thing that breakfast was served literally just outside our door!  We enjoyed our fresh fruit, juice, buns, coffee and shared an omelet before heading out into the bright sunny day to check out the city.  We began with a wander down by the river again, this time taking a long time to talk to Adrian and view his work.  He is such a friendly guy and very passionate about his work.  We were interested to see a collection of painting he was doing using old lps as the canvas.  Many of them were of bicycles and we talked about whether they could withstand a trip home in our panniers.  We decided to come back a little later in the day to see the more finished products and decide about a purchase.  We really like the idea of buying from the actual artist, brining home a great memory an supporting their work as well.  After that, we wandered through the city, just enjoying the very relaxed vibe before coming back to our room.  I needed to work on the blog, so Jim volunteered to head off in search of more wifi cards.  I got a lot done while he was away – turns out he was sent from one place to another on his quest, but he finally returned with more precious wifi time for us to use over the coming days.  

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We enjoyed an afternoon beer in our little courtyard, joined by Guy where we talked about life both in Canada and here in Cuba.  There certainly seem to be a lot of Canadians down here and we can see why, especially given the brutal winter that people in our neck of the woods are experiencing.  Guy is planning to buy a house here with his Cuban girlfriend.  I guess he has found his own paradise.  For us, we can’t even think of settling down to one place when there is so much to yet be explored!  

What a cutie! Many bikes are outfitted with little wooden seats for kids - works like a charm!
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Before we headed out to dinner, we dropped by Adrian’s studio once again.  We had decided to purchase a couple of his paintings instead of the records, as they could be rolled up and would be easier to put into our bags.  We paid for the paintings and will pick them up on our return trip next week.  They will be a wonderful way for us to remember this special place.  

For dinner we wandered over to the fancy hotel we had stopped in at yesterday for coffee.  It was maybe a little early for dinner, but we had the entire dining room to ourselves – weird!  We ordered our food and as we sipped our drinks, the lights flickered and then went out.  Oops!  Maybe we won’t get any dinner, we thought.  But no, they came back on again.  This went on several times over the course of the time we were there.  We did get our dinner (which was delicious) but ate part of the time in the dark.  Outside in the square, thousands of birds were coming to roost in the trees, making an incredible racket.  I don’t know what birds they were, but the sound the whole lot of them made was like a bunch of crazy jingle bells.  It was an interesting way to have dinner, that’s for sure!  

Delicious and there were actual mashed potatoes!
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We finished, paid the bill and wandered back towards our place.  Of course, as we drew near the lights all went out again and since we needed to use the buzzer to get into our place, we took another spin down by the river.  It was a lovely night anyways and we were in no particular hurry to get back, so it was all good.  Eventually the lights came on an we got ourselves in.  The son of our Casa owners let us in and reassured us that they had a backup generator if the power went out for longer that 10 minutes.  I guess it is a pretty regular occurrence here (as it is in Havana), so everyone is pretty chill about it.  

Back in our space, we packed up the bags, ready to head out in the morning to find Playa Camarioca.  Will this be the perfect beach?  We will have to wait and see, I guess!

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Today's ride: 43 km (27 miles)
Total: 1,443 km (896 miles)

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Ron GrumbyI remember thinking, "Kansas and the Dakotas are flat, it should be relatively easy", and then fighting the unending rollers and headwinds.

How cool that you ran into Guy and ended up staying there!
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1 week ago