Broken chains, missing screws, bursted tyres or punctures on our bikes – that was all happening on our bike tour through Cuba. But we were not only experiencing that at our trip…
Our adventure started with putting all the bikes together. Literally we had planned to set up our bikes on land at the hotel resort but because of the weather we were not able to drop the anchor and so we decided to do that on board. It was the first time this was done on board of the Thor and it was a little challenge for all of us to coordinate. Everywhere on the deck you could find bikes and parts of them. But we managed it quite well and after one day all bikes were ready for our tour!
We started our tour at the small village ‚Maria la Gorda‘, located on the west coast of Cuba, after a short but comfortable stay at our hotel. But before we were able to start every bike had to be checked again. This took quite a while but finally we were ready. First we drove along the coast and enjoyed the nice view on the sea. But then our route was going further inland to our destination ‚Sandino‘.
At the beginning there were no cars and houses near the road but as we got closer and closer to the city there were more villages. Near the road we often saw Cubans, especially kids who were saying ‚Holá!‘ or just waving their hands. The main transportation in Cuba are still coaches, horses and of course the typicall ‚Cuba Oldtimers‘. At ‚Sandino‘ our group was welcomed by some students of the 12th grade of a nearby school and it was very interesting to talk with some of them. Of course there was some music and nearly all Cubans were dancing – and they are very good at dancing!
So we enjoyed our night to relax after the first day of the tour…
The following four days we were driving from village to village and had some stops. For example our stay at the ‚Federico Engels‘ school at ‚Pinar del Rio‘. This was a very interesting and impressing experience to learn about their life and their typical day routine. We also had the chance to experience communism, a completely different system. The school uniform, which are different for each school type, are very important in the the Cuban school system as well. I found it very interesting and I am thankful that we had the opportunity to do this little exchange and also to improve our Spanish.
After our stay at the ‚Federico Engels‘ school our next destination was ‚Vinales‘. It’s a village, located in a valley surrounded by beautiful nature and many hills. The route to ‚Vinales‘ was very hard for all of us and some had little difficulties but we made it all together. All KUSis helped each other the long way up the hills! After some nice days in ‚Vinales‘, where we had visited a tobacco plantation, we went back to ‚Pinar del Rio‘. The way back was much more relaxed because most of the way was downhill. We also had another motivation: Finally in ‚Pinar del Rio‘ we could donate our bikes to the students. Some of us were very lucky, because biking is not everybody’s hobby number one.
In general, sometimes there were some challenges for all of us because it is difficult to stay together as a group with 36 people, because not everyone rode their bike as fast as the others. But Isbel, our Cuban bus driver, and some Cuban policemen on their motorbikes, joined our group and always drove behind us so the persons who had problems with their bikes or condition could stay in his bus for some time. Another support was that we helped all together and did little stops to drink as often as we could. And a few people were also pushed by them who had more energy. So it was a good process for our group and we experienced that we could made it all together!