After an all-day bus journey, we turn up in the central Cuban city of Cienfuegos around sunset.
We’re happy to be here at all because the bus was overbooked and about 10 people were left behind in Viñales. This is a side-effect of travelling in the high season in Cuba: very busy public transport.
Thankfully, it’s no problem to find a room for the night so we quickly park our luggage and go exploring. Within a few minutes we end up at the pier, where a group of men are fishing for their dinner.
We’re not here for the fishing opportunities, however. We’re here to go cycling in the surrounding area. There are numerous day trips outlined in the Bicycling Cuba book and the next morning we tackle one of them: out to a nearby penninsula and back by ferry.
The road out of the town has plenty of traffic, but it’s all relatively slow-moving. We don’t mind sharing our road-space with this kind of traffic!
Before long, the sun is rising and we’re drinking heaps of water to cope with the heat. We’re so glad we brought our water filter. At the rate we go through water (several litres a day), it would cost a small fortune to buy it all, not to mention the environmental cost of continuously throwing out plastic bottles.
There are also hills. Okay, it’s not quite the Himalayas but with temperatures over 30°C it doesn’t take much to wear us out.
Eventually we get to the beach, where we take a short break before hopping the ferry back into Cienfuegos. The locals pay 1 peso for the ride and bikes go free. We each pay $1 American dollar and another $1 U.S. for our bikes. There’s no way around the tourist charge: they know we don’t have any option, aside from backtracking 30km.
And then, just as we’ve paid up (all the while muttering under our breath about the inflated cost), this boat rolls up.
We ask the captain where it’s going. He mumbles something about Cienfuegos. We become confused. There’s more questioning (from us) and mumbling (from the captain) and then we realise…. we’ve just paid $2 U.S. each for a ride on the wrong boat. Damn!
Off one boat, on to the other, another $4 U.S. paid, 20 minutes below deck with 100 other sweating people and …. finally … Cienfuegos. That was an expensive and exhausting ferry ride!
Back in Cienfuegos, we’re on the final days of Luke’s course of antibiotics so we do some general lounging. This includes a bit of bike-gazing …
… boat watching …. (this is a fishing boat, made out of styrofoam)
… and sunsets on the pier. Next stop, Santa Clara!