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passing by pinar del rio

I leave the Gunahabibicanes Peninsula, somewhat reluctantly. I dislike the sense of haste I feel because I know my stay here in Cuba is limited to only 30 days. I know that I would stay for longer on the Peninsula without that pressure.

My attempt at a reasonably early start in order to evade the midday heat fails because I wait outside the Ecological Station for some time in order to say goodbye to the manager there. Eventually, I leave before he arrives but we pass each other on the road leaving the park and both wave enthusiastically.

My next real destination is Vinales, a town a couple of hundred kilometres away that sits in long valley surrounded by mogote mountains. On the map I locate a couple of beaches about half way that look like they may offer potential camping sites.

La Boca on an August evening. August is summer holiday time for Cubans and they take to the beach in force.

I wander as far as I can up the beach in search of a quiet place to camp...

...and watch the sun set. After dark, groups of young men tramp up and down the beach hunting for crabs. They pass, with torches, many times by my tent but no-one bothers me.

I pass through largely flat agricultural land before approaching the mountains that surrounds Vinales. I’ve seen some mountains by now and it’s only politeness, really, that compels me to refer to these vague undulations as mountains. The going is hot but still relatively undemanding.

A peaceful rural morning scene.

Midday sees me in Pinar del Rio, the capital of the identically named province. Pinar del Rio’s walls are graced by a strikingly bizarre series of murals featuring bicycles. The town may have other sites of interest but I didn’t pause for long enough to investigate them.

Pinar del Rio has a thing about bicycles, it seems. A series of murals featuring cyclists grace the town's walls. This one with the tight-rope walker is my personal favourite.

The others are strikingly...

... bizarre. Absolutely no social realism here.

As I approach Vinales, rain falls giving some relief from the shimmering heat.

Afternoon showers break the savage heat but the tarmac is so hot that the clouds of steam rising from the road reduce visibility to dangerously low levels so I sit out the storm under the shelter of yet another political memorial.

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