Alastair's Blog

Cuba Classic Jan 2018

Alastair Caldwell - Wednesday, April 11, 2018
In the middle of January I left Mother and New Zealand to head off for Cuba for the Cuba Classic Rally. This was just a short couple of weeks rally driving round Cuba, followed by a few days in Santiago, Chile, on the way back. 


For this trip of 18 days and 3,246 kilometers I took my trusty Porsche 912 (which is actually a 4-cylinder 911), which has seen me through a great deal of difficult terrain in the past.

The Rally explored virtually the entire island, which is about the size of the UK, from the hustle and bustle of Havana to the quiet countryside where the main form of transport is a horse and cart. We drove through the small towns preserved in aspic from the pre-revolution times including the point where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492, claiming the island for his Spanish masters. No visit to Cuba is complete without a trip to a cigar plantation and factory and we discovered the truth about cigars being rolled on the thighs of virgins! And of course we tried the seven year old rum to drink with the cigars. We drove La Farola, the best mountain pass in Cuba, we went round the Bay of Pigs, passed by Guantanamo, visited the memorial to Che Guevara in Santa Clara, drove the fantastic causeways up to 48kms in length that join romantic islands to the mainland, and tried the food in a local Paladar (small family-run restaurant, often in people's own homes). This is the full itinerary.


The Porsche in its little shipping crate ready to go to Cuba.



We had a bit of a struggle with the customs people when we arrived in Cuba and had to fill in endless amounts of paperwork. But finally we got the cars and spent the rest of the day getting them ready. Hopefully we can start tomorrow.

Few repairs needed for one of the cars.



Now all the cars were ready to go!




Three days in, everything was going well, apart from the Porsche not charging. But we were getting by, we were very used to this as the Tatra was the same all across the USA.

Cuba hadn't changed at all from my list visit several years ago. The people are subdued but very nice and the weather was mixed but generally quite warm.


There are big billboards everywhere extolling the revolution - it seems a bit ironic but they obviously still believe? 


Two oxen towing a sledge, it's almost medieval and a common sight! Does it have wheels?



We did need a little bit of rescuing - here's the Porsche being rescued by a Russian built Lada 


Cuban beehives


Porsche at the beach in the shade while its occupants are getting lots of sun!

Entertainment by a local band




The cooling bucket


We had a variation of the usual cooling bucket for the Porsche. This one is a locally made potty, made out of recycled plastic. This was very appropriate as several rally people, including me, have had Fidel's revenge! 



And here are a few more shots from Cuba





Some cadets



A roadside stall




End of the rally


Then the rally was over and the cars were put back in their shipping containers. We were off to Santiago, Chile tomorrow for 3 nights then back to NZ. We had a good time on the rally, saw some interesting sights and met Cubans. Strange politics, they are still trying to be communist but with increasing capitalism all around them. Trolley used to move freight in the mountains. Drove by Guantanamo. Permanent effigies of Castro & Che




Castro


Che Guevara


Man pushing a trolley


One of the old cars you see here


Ready to leave Cuba



On the naughty step


On the naughty step at the police station for not stopping at a control point.... 


And then we were off to Santiago


We got stuck on the coast behind a broken down bus, looked like we were never going to get through.



But eventually, they managed to fix it and move it out of the way, so we were able to drive along the water's edge, rather rough terrain!





Flamingoes in Santiago









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