The Long Road Home (return to Cienfuegos from Trinidad)

Brian, Matt, Jessica, and I returned to the Hostel el Tenedor so that we could retrieve our bags and check-out of our rooms. Our hostess tallied the bills and were were frantically counting our dwindling cash to ensure that we’d make it back to Cienfuegos. We’d had a few additional expenses on our horseback excursion, namely sugarcane rum drinks and lunch, and we’d only brought a set amount of cash along to Trinidad. We’d paid for our rooms and headed out the door when the hostess called us back. She’d forgotten to include breakfast, an additional $5/person. Uh, oh. We still needed to pay Carlos for our motorbike parking. Brian and Matt exchanged glances while ruffling through their wallets. Awkward! We felt terrible to have come up short but as the four of us then scrounged for change the hostess said, ‘it’s ok, I understand.” We thanked her again and again as we made our way to the door. How embarrassing!

Then to Carlos’ house to pick up the bikes. The previous day when we’d left the bikes at the curb, we’d stopped back later in the evening to ask if it would be ok to leave the bikes overnight. Of course leaving the bikes was ok and in addition to that Carlos instructed us to store the bikes inside his house. Well, ok. So Carlos and the guys hoisted the bikes over the curb and up two steps into the entranceway of his barren, one room home. When we arrived to settle up our parking fees, the $1/day cost had been increased to $2/day, likely because the bikes were practically in the living room. Once again we were coming up short for our now $4/bike fees. Brian handed Carlos a $10 CUC but he could not make change. Keeping in mind that we’d still need some gas money for the ride home, Brian and Matt combined provided Carlos $7.40. How embarrassing again! To add to this, when we got the bikes lowered back onto the street and ready to go Matt’s bike wouldn’t start. On Jessica’s keen observation, the gas shut-off switch had been activated. Matt’s bike running, now ours wouldn’t start. UGH! Brian finally kick-started the bike and both mopeds were rumbling, ready to go!

Just outside of town we stopped for that photo shoot that we’d missed on our way there.

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Ok…now for serious.

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Matt and Jessica suggested we travel back to Cienfuegos via the mountains for yet another change in scenery. We’d taken our stop at the welcome sign to study the map and determined that we could take another route through the mountains. Brian and I were slightly worried, however, because although we had a full four liter tank of gas Matt’s tank was about three-quarters full. Hopefully, there’d be a gas station along the new route.

Just outside of Trinidad we made our turn and climbed up and up the mountain road.

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Looming storm clouds were getting closer and closer…we stopped for a brief photo shoot and planning session which is where I discovered that my gel had exploded in my backpack. Yuk!

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We thought we’d climb a bit higher but Matt warned we’d need to stop again if the rain came because it would make the pavement very slippery. Sure enough, it rained and poured! We came to a very handy viewpoint and stopped the bikes so that we could stay safe and dry until the storm passed.

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While waiting out the storm, we studied the zoomed-in version of the map which was posted on the wall. We determined that those roads we could take back home were soon to change into ATV only, dirt roads. We factored that along with having just driven directly uphill, steep hills and probably using twice the gas we’d have used on the main road and decided…maybe taking the mountain path back to Cienfuegos wasn’t the best idea we’d had today. We had only enough money remaining for a refuel, and now we weren’t sure we’d make the gas station. So (once again cruisers made plans and I’m sure God is belly laughing at this one) after the rain stopped we took in the marvelous view of Trinidad and turned ourselves around to head back the safer route.

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Back down the mountain, we never started the engines. We coasted the mopeds downhill stopping once, just in case, to cool the brakes.

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During the next phase of our drive, Brian and I talked and talked about our visit to Trinidad. We also brainstormed and had come up with at least three scenarios for which we’d rescue Serendipity when their moped ran out of gas. Each kilometer of the way we’d had our fingers crossed. When Matt gestured back holding up two fingers (two bars remaining on the gas gauge) we crossed our toes as well. But luck was finally on our side and God must have stopped laughing because we’d made it to the gas station! We used our final $10 CUC to fill both tanks to the brim.

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Thank goodness the tanks were full! It was now dark and the rain had started again. We had a long, slow ride back to Cienfuegos. What was previously a two-hour (80 kilometer) trip on the way home became a six-hour journey. We were drenched, cold, and wiping squashed bugs from our cheeks when we finally reached the city limits. Mopeds were a great idea! We sure did see the countryside…and were never happier to have returned to good ‘ol Rode Trip!

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