Well, hello granny! It's been a while! - We'll Follow the Sun - CycleBlaze

January 19, 2019

Well, hello granny! It's been a while!

Well, let’s start with last night.  As you know, we have been so very happy with the meals served at our Casa Particulars and this continued with a very filling and tasty dinner again.  The vegetables included the lovely cabbage we had been given earlier – Jim gave that and the lettuce to someone from the Casa with hopes they could make use of them!

The soup that I was just finishing was a bean soup with pork and very tasty! Then the main dish was chicken, rice and the vegetables contained our contribution of cabbage along with a great assortment of veggies I wouldn't have thought to put together - yummy!
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We were able to enjoy our meal on the outdoor deck, but as we were finishing the mosquitos were starting to make an appearance so we retired to the inside table to play cards.  Earlier in the afternoon we heard our hostess showing the suite right next to ours to someone, but as it was very quiet for the remainder of the day we assumed that the people had moved on.  Nope!  As we sat down to play cards, they showed up and I am telling you, they may as well have been in our room because we could hear every word they spoke (although of course, we couldn’t understand them).  The man had a booming voice and he spoke on the phone for a while it seemed.  We made some noise as we played so that they would realize there was someone in the room next door, but that didn’t seem to make any difference.  Soon they had their laptop or whatever playing some program or another and playing it LOUD.  Oh boy, it could be a long night we thought.  We decided to make the best of it by me working on the blog (I’m writing it in Word while we are out of wifi and hope to just upload a bunch of entries when we can) while Jim worked on some of the video he has been taking.  


Surprisingly, as we went off to bed, the noise next door was reduced and we never heard from the folks next door for the rest of the night!  The only noises we heard were early in the morning roosters crowing – not a bad way to wake up at all!  

We had asked not to have breakfast this morning as the plan was to stop at Hotel Moka in the Las Terrazas complex which was only a few kms away.  We were hoping to use their wifi for a bit to catch up with the blog and the world in general.  Juanita’s son very kindly gave us 4 little bananas as we were heading out – they are very tasty we found.  

It was a lovely morning for cycling – slightly cool but not cold.  The sun was shining and we were excited to continue exploring this part of Cuba.  We encountered very few vehicles (of the horse cart or car variety) and continued to enjoy the modest hills along they way.  The roads were still not great, but so much better than what we had seen the day before!  

This guy was just hanging around in the yard as we brought our things down
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Perfect cycling conditions!
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Eventually we entered Las Terrazas.  This is an area that once was a coffee plantation where the land had been completely cleared to grow beans and left in very poor condition.  The Cuban government took it over and created a protected area that is now lush and green.  In the middle of this sits Hotel Moka and if we had wanted to spend the bucks (and make reservations way in advance) we would have stayed here.  As it was, we wanted to check it out, so up up up we rode on the switchbacks to the top where the hotel is located.  We paid for breakfast (which actually was not all that great – I think the buffet had been raided earlier by all the tourists and the leftovers were not the best) and sat at our table enjoying the treetop view.  After breakfast we bought new wifi cards and did some internetting.  It seems that if you buy the card, which is good for one hour, you just need to use it up as we have found it impossibly to turn off the timer.  Oh well, for $1.00/hour its ok and at least we now can make some progress with the blog.  

Entering the Las Terrazas complex you have to pay $2 per person. There was no exit gate at the other end though, oddly enough.
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Our view from the treetop restaurant at Hotel Moka
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They have a treetop zip line tour you can do there as well. Sadly we didn't have time to give it a try.
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Still having a fair distance to go for this day and some big hills to climb, we coasted back down the hill and continued on our way, enjoying both the views and the chance to get our legs back into climbing mode.  Rollers really are nice – you work hard to climb up but then get the joy of a great ride downhill.  Only problem here was that not always was the road in the best of shape so some of the downhills were pretty slow.  The lack of traffic meant we also weren’t eating all that horrible exhaust today – another bonus.  

We continued along, using the guidebook to help us keep on track but at some point over the past 17 years things have changed just a bit and a few of the things we looked for were no longer there.  However, this was the main road and pretty much the only way to Soroa, so we didn’t worry about it.  We were feeling pretty good about the day and anticipating getting in Soroa early since it was such a short ride when we came to the last hill and oh boy, what a hill it was!  We rode up, stopped to rest, rode some more and stopped again.  When we came to a patch of gravel we decided to walk up to just past it and take a rest.  It looked like the road, which wound around, might top out there but once we reached the area we were aiming for, we realized that it just continued on up.  Ugh!!!!!  This was a good place to stop and have a snack bar and some water, take pictures and just chill for a bit, so that is what we did.  And it was a good thing, as a few minutes later we heard sirens coming down the hill and then, whooosh!  Down came several racing bikes!  Then more and then more again!  Oh my!  We were in the middle of a big bike race – good thing we had stopped where we had or we totally would have been in their way as they took the turn wide as they hurled down the hill we had just climbed with such difficulty.  

The pictures NEVER look the way it was, which was steep!
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Just fantastic scenery everywhere you look!
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And the rock formations were equally fascinating
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Here they come!
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These guys were really booking it!
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We had just come up and over that! Good thing we were off the road at this point!
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Scott AndersonGreat action shot.
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1 month ago
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We sat and enjoyed the spectacle until the last straggler went down and then it was time for us to make our way up again.  By now the road was very very steep and I couldn’t get onto the bike to cycle, so we continued walking up until we came to a fork in the road.  This was the place where we were supposed to start the skyline ride tomorrow or the next day.  By this point we were both pretty exhausted and were questioning the wisdom of taking this route.  I have read about it in the guidebook plus on several blogs and know that there are several sharp, steep hills along the 74 km route from Soroa to San Diego De Los Banos.  We rested and decided we would think again about our routing when we got to our destination for this night, the Villa Soroa which was now thankfully about 5km away but all downhill.  

Not even at the top yet, we stopped here for an "Emily's smile" selfie
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The road we may or may not take
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Because it was so exhausting getting here!
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Yep, that last one was a doozie!
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Once there, we asked for a room for one night and possibly two and after giving them our information were told it would be about 20 minutes before we could check in as the rooms were still being cleaned.  No problem, we said!  We bought a couple of wifi cards and happily sat in the lobby – Jim checking up on things and me working on posting up on the blog.  This is a resort with little cabins spread around a very large and lovely pool.  When ours was ready we moved the bikes up and unloaded before heading over near the pool to enjoy an afternoon beverage and sit in the sun.  We looked at the maps and decided that our best way forward is to head down from Soroa to the Autopista and take that until we move back up to the foothills and our next destination.  The skyline ride will have to wait for other tourers (Scott and Rachel Anderson, I hear the hills calling to you!).  For us, it will be enough to get ourselves out to Vinales in whatever way works best for us.  Decision made, we started to look at the timing of our travels to see if we can still squeeze in some of the middle of Cuba while we are here.  Only time will tell if that works out!  For now, we are planning a quiet day tomorrow.  There is rain in the forecast so a day off will be welcome and will give me some time to catch up with all of you!

Well now, this is not such a bad way to do route planning! Our first piña coladas here in Cuba (and probably not our last!)
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Today's ride: 27 km (17 miles)
Total: 1,156 km (718 miles)

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Scott AndersonYou’re making a pair of believers, you know.
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1 month ago
Sue PriceTo Scott AndersonGood! You need to come here!!!
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4 weeks ago