I felt like a posh, rich westerner at my business-hotel breakfast, tortilla, bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, proper coffee and all (pic).
Then I saw myself in the mirror, and felt like a scruffy cycle tourist again.
Another sunny morning, another tailwind. I headed on the coast road along a ridge: at last, scenery that didn’t look ironed (pic).
But Bacunayagua bridge, impressively spanning the gorge at the border of Matanzas and Mayabeque provinces, came as a bit of a shock (pic).
Not the civil engineering, but the motorway services: this is an obligatory spending stop on the package-holiday coach transfer between Havana and the airbrushed, tourist-dollar resort of Varadero (which I wanted to avoid like I want to avoid mosquitoes, for similar reasons).
After two weeks of quiet, slow-paced – and yes, cheap – everyday Cuba, it was bewildering to swim in a tourist tide again. Goodness knows how many selfies I ruined: smiling professionals in their holiday best, carefully snapped by the taxi driver, rudely photobombed by a haggard middle-aged bloke in a Sports Direct T-shirt and M&S shorts.
Anyway, after plenty of rolling, long-gentle-up, long-gentle-down roads, a final coastal stretch past working factories and active industry got me to Guanabo: a packed, lively, approachable beach resort (pic). But Varadero this ain’t. The only visitors I saw here were Cubans, presumably Havaneros with a few pesos in their pocket and a need to escape the city for a weekend.
Another lordly casa from my guidebook: $25 for an apartment suite across the road from the beach, with sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, even luggage room for my bike.
I strolled the beach, had a paddle, and grazed on cheap pizza, fruit juice and ice cream (jmagua flavour, whatever that is, Google has no idea: fruit? predatory big cat? disinfectant?) in local places full of women and daughters.
At sunset I had beers at a local cafe by the beach, planning more bike trips in other world-renowned cycle-touring destinations such as Yorkshire, and then hunted for food.
Two buns with pork bits proved cracking value, literally, as a chunk of bone in one of them chipped off another bit of my steadily crumbling molars (an ongoing process: teeth as metaphor for life).
I greedily finished with another pizza from another peso stall and ambled back to enjoy an evening relaxing, reading, balcony-gazing in my extensive casa. Like, yeah. I was asleep before it even got dark.
Miles today: 53
Miles since Baracoa: 908