The international LAMA (Latin American Motorcycle Association) national rally of Cuba was in Camaguey this year. Obviously, it was my first time going to one, although Noel had told me lots of stories about the past rallies. I had high expectations. Because of tensions and problems within the Santiago chapter, we decided to first go to Holguin alone and then go with the Holguineros to Camaguey. On our way to Holguin the top of the gas tank blocked the flow of gasoline and the motor cut out and we had to stop and Noel figured it out. Then we made it up to Holguin just fine although one time we had to pass through billowing smoke coming from a burning cane field. My face was really dirty when we arrived. We spent the night with friends and everyone left at 6 AM the next morning. Not as many people were going this year and none of the kids so I knew it wouldn’t be as fun as expected. Little did I know…
The trip to Camaguey was fun although Noel and I had a close call trying to pass a truck and I got scared and started crying. But I threw off my fear and enjoyed riding for the rest of the trip. When we got to the accommodations it was a pretty run down campismo without a pool or cafeteria. Everyone was pretty pissed and we had to share a room with another couple. I was pretty disappointed. Then we went to the huge meeting center called Casino Campestre. There were close to 300 motorcycles and people from all over the island and world like from Mexico and one guy from France and the VP of LAMA from California. I was pretty overwhelmed especially the machismo atmosphere. I was feeling pretty homesick but we went to an opening ceremony which took a while to start and everyone was bored. Then we rode through the city and later returned to the ‘hotel’ La India.
After a bad night sleep (lots of snoring from the roommate) we took off for Santa Lucia which is like 120 km from Camaguey. It is supposedly one of the best beaches in Cuba… it was also a campismo where we stayed, but it wasn’t enjoyable because of the chilly wind and rain torrents and one of the Santiagueros of the club was totally intoxicated which made the atmosphere in the cabin pretty tense. Noel and I decided to take off the morning on our own and head towards Bayamo through Las Tunas and then go back home. I was feeling negative about the experience and the predicated rain and itinerary and wanted to get home. Noel agreed so we turned off from Santa Lucia on our own to save a ton of kilometers on the trip back to Santiago.
The road before reaching just out of Santa Lucia was pure mud. I had to get off the motorcycle while Noel maneuvered it through the mud and run alongside it. I was scared the motorcycle would fall over but Noel asked me if I saw the movie The Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevara. I said yes! I love that movie! And he said just think, this is just like that movie, but in Cuba! And look, you’ve got your military boots on too. I felt lots better after he said this and we pressed on. The rest of the trip was smooth except about 40 kilometers outside of Santiago in Las Palmas, a rain torrent fell on us. We stopped under a bridge where a ton of other motorcyclists where taking cover so I could put on my raincoat. When I was ready Noel had to break the conversations and Q and A he was having with the others about the Triumph and we headed back into the rain. The others were surprised that we were going out into the rain and Noel replied: Since when have you see a motorcyclist made out of sugar?” Then we took off once again.
All in all the Rally in Camaguey sucked but at least it was an adventure!