Saturday, February 10, 2018

Update: this blog no longer being used

Dear Friends and Followers,
I'm sure you can tell by the fact that I haven't posted to this blog in a very long time that I'm no longer using it.

But I am still blogging, just on Facebook. Because Facebook loads photos and videos so much faster and more people actually read my posts when they are loaded there.

So if you wish to keep following my "travels and torments" send me a Friend Request and a note letting me know this. And I'll gladly confirm.


Kathryn Mossbrook Zimmerman

Live YOUR dream,


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cuba Day 24: Rest Day in Remedios

Chain oil doesn't exist in Cuba. More rusty chains here that just keep on working!

I walked out on the route out of town that my maps app suggest for biking to Santa Clara it takes me up into a rural area. And the road is fine it's a dirt road but very big, very obvious and I'm going to bike that way.

Oh my God! I'm grinning from ear to ear! As I was walking back from the road I thought it wouldn't it be fun if someone gave me a lift. And don't you know I manifested it! This wonderful man picked me up in his cart with a white grayish white horse. He even let me drive the horse!! He didn't speak English and my Spanish is so bad but it was fun!!!

YouTube Video

Met some young Russian cycle travelers who were camping throughout Cuba. They made balloon figures and sold them at the town square while playing music.

Met Martin from Australia, a young undergrad in environmental sciences. We had dinner together. Terrible meal.

Water pipe broke at my casa in the courtyard. It's so hard on Cubans when things break because they don't have the money to do repairs. Lisette had to find a friend who could come and gerryrig something together to repair this break in a very old house. It's the pipe from the water tank on the roof of the house. Most houses in town have this, their own private water tower. They fill it with a hose from another house coming out of the ground in the street. Took awhile to figure this out.

Lisette so funny..sweet woman.

Hard to say goodbye. She was one of the few Cubans I met who spoke good English and we could communicate. I got a lot of questions answered staying with her.

Live YOUR dream,


Cuba Day 22 & 23

Day 22: Heading out of Sancti Spiritus

Taxis all lined up except they were horse carts:)

A farmer stopped by while I was resting and showed me pictures of his children that live in Miami and he asked me my country, how many miles I do a day, and then he wanted to tell me something else and I didn't understand him but he is so kind and so happy :-)

I'm camped on the side of a dirt road next to a sugar cane field.

My tent spooked this horse pulling a wagon with women in it and broke his bridle. I feel so bad and can't say anything except in English "I'm sorry" and give a sad face. One woman waved as they walked by so I hope she understands. The horses that spook seem to have some life left in them. They've stopped a ways up the road at the main road where they may be trying to repair it. It was a family of gramma, grandpa, son, daughter, and grandson. The little boy wanted to come see me but momma said No. They must just hate us tourists but out here they can't meet too many of us. I hope everything is ok for them.

After two two days with temps over 90*, today was a delightful change. Clouds kept things cooler and tonight it's getting downright chilly..for Cuba:)

Day 23: Arriving in Remedios

The other day I saw people plows: 2 men pulling plow by leaning against a bar with a man standing on the plow behind them for weight to dig into the soil.

I often see men pulling grasses on roadside, collecting fodder for animals back on the farm.

Today this old farmer pulling grass looked up with his toothless weathered grin. I made a mental picture. My best photos are in my head:)

There are lovely pink flowering trees with no leaves a bit like a bottle brush.

People movers are plentiful here:
Horse cart taxis

Backs of bicycles
Motorcycle sidecar
Trucks with people standing
Farm wagons
Cars, old and new

OK I just just heard my first accident. A dog limping and mangy came running out at me and after I passed an oncoming car hit it and I heard in the car thump and the sound of crumbling metal. Sick to my stomach. Well I think the dog's in a better place. it's dead I think. Still so sad:(. I'm learning a lot about life and death in Cuba because it's a much finer line here.

I arrived in Remedios, a quaint town, with a lovely town square of hotels and a church in pastel colors.

Tourists are bused in. Some that I talked to were with Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel). Their's was a 6 day trip of Havana and Remedios. They were lunching in an exquisite hotel to chamber music. Really? I guess they didn't really want to experience Cuba. They stay in hotels. So sad. They couldn't believe I was touring Cuba alone much less camping by the side of the road. Aren't you afraid? No, they won't hurt a tourist.

I'm staying at a hostel referred by Abdul, the host at my hostel in Sancti Spiritus. But he called and said I would be here yesterday afternoon about 3-4 pm. I never told him that. I knew I would take 2 days. Poor Lisette waited until 7-8 for me last night. She was happy to see me today. Another lovely colonial house with rooms off the back patio courtyard. Delightful.

It was cool and cloudy today so I forgot sunscreen on my face...the only place I apply it. Oh boy! I got burned! And I'd been doing so well. I'm loving these cooler temps...70s for the next week!

My time is winding down just as I'm getting the hang of things. My Spanish is ever so slowly improving. I can find food although nothing to take for camping. And I'm just feeling more comfortable. I know I need adjusting time because when I can't talk I feel so shy and reticent. That's why I decided to stay a month. I knew this about myself.

At some hostels (Casa particulares) they will cook dinner for their guests. Tonight I'm eating here at my hostel for the first time. Since I've been so unhappy with the restaurants I asked if she would eat with me. She could pick the food and the time. I didn't care. I just didn't want to eat alone again. Dinner smells fabulous!

Live YOUR dream,


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 21 in Cuba: Rest Day in Sancti Spiritus

I'm determined to finish uploading my Cuba blogs before departing again on Saturday.

I slept 10.5 hours last night. So tired from the sun I guess. Breakfast is nearly always the same: fruit juice, usually guava; eggs in the shape of a tortilla or, this morning fried; fruit of papaya, pineapple, guava, banana; bread, sometimes crispy kinda like toast; and coffee, or I drink the decaf green tea I brought. This morning there were sliced tomatoes and carrots, sliced cheese and a salami, and their cream cheese that I didn't try but looked good!

Then off to tour some quaint streets and an old house. I love walking by the schools whose classrooms have windows right onto the busy streets.

How do they concentrate?

The old house, Muses de Arte Colonial, was quite beautiful. I love these double doors they have often here. You have your big, 10+ft tall double doors quite solid and then there's a second layer of quaint doors that are ornate and scalloped and shorter that would let the air pass over the top when closed. Today I saw some with etched glass inserts. Gorgeous! At museums here you have to pay an extra $5 to take photos but some that I've been in didn't care. This one had a guide who stayed with me through the whole house although not giving me a tour because she didn't speak English, but stopping me when I went to take a photo.

Empanadas are the pastries I'm enjoying. Cheap and tasty.

Feeling a bit under the weather today although nothing specific. My stomach has been rumbling for days but never really breaks into anything more serious. But tired. Could be the heat. I've seen the town and I've got a dinner place picked out. Maybe I'll lounge around. I've still got 4 more days of cycling: 2 to Remedios and then 2 to Santa Clara.

I'm angsting over how to fly back with my bags. I used a Web strapping and then had them plastic wrapped at the airport. Don't think that will be an option going home. But since Southwest allows 2 bags maybe I'll let one pannier go by itself, then wrap my other hanging pods with my tent bag and hopefully be able to really cinch it so it stays together. I carry the other pannier on.

Came out for lunch to one of the 2 recommended restaurants in my guidebook. Hitting the other one for dinner. I ordered a garbanzo stew. The waiter acted like I was to pick something from the list of ingredients. It was quite confusing and I used Google Translate. My menu was all English so I asked to see the Spanish one to see if there was a translation issue. He told me no I couldn't see it. He even went to ask. Hmm? Different prices? This is pretty cheap but still, makes ya wonder. The stew was quite good! I was pleasantly surprised. Small portion though. The water was over priced...more than 2x the grocery store price. But $3 was OK.

Have I mentioned about going into stores with guards at the door? Some packaged foods locked in cases? Lines at the banks and telephone company with guards that control the number of people allowed inside at one time?

After sleeping 10.5 hours last night I went back to my room and took a nap later this morning. Hope I'm not coming down with something. Fatigue is an early sign of giardia.

It was a hot day so I hung out in my room exploring maps and distances, reading, and playing games on my phone until time for dinner. I had decided to go to the restaurant suggested by the guidebook. Ambience was great. Right on the river by an old Bridge sitting on a terrace. Tourists don't seem to be able to get menus. Dinner was a selection of meat or fish with salad, bread, fruit and rice pudding for dessert. $12 for fish. While I was eating I noticed locals inside eating something completely different. The best thing was this paste for the bread, like a dip. Have not a clue what it was. Then pineapple, papaya, banana, AGAIN. Salad is always slices of tomato, cukes, and chopped cabbage which you put oil and vinegar on. That's about it for veggies here. Then the fish was unknown and not very good. Served with slices of tomato and cucumber (haven't had any of that) and rice unseasoned. Then dessert was rice pudding I found out and I couldn't have it so...that's it for $13.50 with water. 3x markup on water. I should have gone back for a double portion of garbanzo stew!! I'm finding out I'm a much fussier eater than I ever thought I was. And getting fussier as I age;). Back in my room snacking on Trader Joe's Green Tea Mints. Let's see what Remedios brings as far as good options. I have a box of veggie soup I'll heat for tomorrow night while on the road. Good thing I brought some food with me!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 20 in Cuba: Into Sancti Spiritus

Oh what a night! Ants ate through my tent! Hot and sticky body...even the earth was hot and made my air pad hot! Insomnia! Finally about 1:30 am I fell asleep. Early this morning I awoke because of ants crawling on me. They may be tiny but I can feel them! One here. One there. Swat. Rub. Add ear plugs because the rooster's crowing and a blindfold to keep out the light. More sleep does not come. The ants aren't too bad this morning. Guess I killed most of them last night. There's also stinging nettle I think unless an ant is causing that burn sensation. The ground is dry and hard and scratchy. There's been a fire through here some time.

Yesterday I went through the worst smoke from a burning field. There were guys out managing the fire but I couldn't tell if they were trying to stop it or feed it. I think stop it. It was a grass fire but there's barely any grass to burn. The smoke was so thick to pedal through. Cough. Cough.

Tried to video some in town. Since I already make a spectacle, how bad can it get? It was hard because all these guys came up and talked to me...then I was trying to buy something to eat...too many things going on at once. No promises on how it turned out. I'll do it more.  (Author's note: video was cute...too bad you can't see it.  I had to delete it because it wouldn't upload.)

Cycled in to Sancti Spiritus and to the old town area. There's a large river bed through the town with a trickle of water. I wonder if it fills up during the rainy season. I passed by a hostel that looked like it had possibilities so I marked the point on my map app. Otherwise I might never find it again:). The streets are very confusing. Then I pedaled on until it looked like that still was the best place. An old colonial house built in 1800. He calls it a Hostel but they're all using that name now for their casa particulare. Easier to say! So there's a main foyer and he lives to the left and my room is to the right. A bedroom, dressing table area, and private bath.

Toilet seats are often absent or broken here. The bowl should be designed with a built in seat making the separate seat unnecessary. Just saying... it's an international problem. Another thing I've run into here are these water heater shower heads. I read about them somewhere but I have no idea how they work so I just take a cold shower. (It's hot here so cold showers feel good:)). Whenever I see this shower head I'm already naked and can't ask how it works. Besides it looks downright frightening: wires here and there all wrapped in a haphazard manner then water dripping...potential for electrocution!! No thanks!

Now I feel human again: all clean and shiny!

This town is adorable! It has a pedestrian mall. The colors are bright. Mostly Cubans. Terrible food. When I've gone to restaurants in other cities the food has been pretty good. (It's been finding food to take on the bike or in the small towns that's been the problem.). Until tonight. Now mind you, my last meal was yesterday morning so I was ready to eat. I picked an "Italian" restaurant right on the main square. Ordered pizza. It was tiny. Like what you'd get on the street for $0.50. And I paid $6. Way too much and it was tasteless. Worst pizza I've had here. I think tomorrow I'll ask for a recommendation. Such a disappointment :(. And I've had some good pizzas here! After the beautiful restaurants in Trinidad where you got a 3 course meal for just a few dollars more, I'm so sad. Guess I'll go finish my can of olives!

Tai Chi class

Classroom windows are right on the streets

Pastry cart.

Live YOUR dream,


Day 19 in Cuba: Leaving Trinidad

Author's note: as many of you know, I'm off the trike for a few months and trying to get many things done during this break. I wrote every day while I was in Cuba. I am now trying to add pictures to those journals and slowly get them uploaded onto my blog. Thank you for your patience, hope you're enjoying my journals. It's been quite an enjoyable process to go back months after I finish the country and reminisce about my time there.

Journal continues:
As I think I've mentioned I've been sharing my space "sort of" with two young guys from France. They occupy one area of the second floor and I've got a bed in the other and the bathroom is off of my room. As expected they come in quite early in the morning the other night it was 2:30 AM and I think Adrian said this morning they got in at six or seven. I didn't realize till I walk through their space to take my bags downstairs to leave that "they" was him and a girl!

Saying goodbye to my host in Trinidad and his mama.

I also met a Frenchman last night ...after dinner he came over to my table and asked me for a drink. We wanted the streets of Trinidad found a place to have a drink shared stories and he walked be home. Thank you, Pascal, for a lovely evening. Maybe I'll see you in Bordeaux:)

I met some fellow touring cyclist today on the road that we're headed into Trinidad.

They were also French and we stopped and shared a few stories and contact information. They had cycled from Santiago with the wind at their backs. They got the memo! And later I met a man from Brussels who had rented a bike in Trinidad and bike up the road to a little town where there is a big slave tower.

Supposedly this concrete tower with the staircase up the middle and many places to look out was used to watch the slaves working on the sugar plantations. I've never seen anything like it!

Today a guy with a horse and cart passed me and he handed me a rope to grab so he could tow me a long:))

Everybody hitchhikes around Cuba. I'm not sure if they pay a fee to the driver or not but I just saw mom and her toddler daughter picked up after she waved the car down. It's common practice and most intersections have quite a few people trying to get rides or picked up by a taxi. Most people don't have cars and Cuba is rural. There are buses too. Foreigners cannot ride the local buses only the Viazul, tourist bus. So most tourists don't see the small villages I see. They miss a lot.

What's with the little birds in the cages people carry them around? In town sometimes I see them hanging outside a house but I don't know what that's about.

Cuba is teaching me to make do with what I have. If all I have is warm water, at least I have water. If I feel sticky after I've washed up at the end of the day, at least my skin is clean. And if I have some food to eat,…at least I have some food to eat. And the place I put my tent may not be the prettiest spot but it's almost flat and I'll be able to sleep. I'm realizing now how spoiled I've become even in this simplified life I lead.

Today's ride was through a beautiful valley. It had plantations down at the base of the valley with the mountains behind it and I'm not going to be able to tell you the names without looking them up hold on. Valle de los Ingenios and Sierra del Escambrey. Stunning. There also was a market at the Torres Iznaga with this special pulled thread needlework the woman do that creates a pattern of holes in the design. Tablecloths. Runners. Bedspreads.

They take several months to make. Sometimes I find it challenging no longer consuming but I can appreciate what they do without owning it. There are enough tourists who will buy, I'm sure. But it's a struggle with this sense of what? have to disburse later? Deep thoughts, I know;)

Life is hard here. A lot of animals are starving. I can see the ribs, I can see them trying to find grass where it doesn't look like there is any. The grass is brown and the earth is hard, and the sun is hot! The rainy season hasn't started yet. It's been hard to find a camp spot. Tonight I'm down side road on the edge up against the pasture fence. It's almost flat :-)

and Blaze is locked up to the fence. Everything else I bring inside the tent. It's what people told me I should do camping here. But I've never seen anyone come up to my tent so I think it's OK.

I think daylight savings was last night because it appears my phone has a different time on it today even though it never connected to the Internet. Hmmm? For me I don't know if that's a good thing, it's more hours of hot sun. I look forward to the cool of the evening.

Dinner tonight is a 15 ounce can of artichoke hearts packed in water and cracker from last night's dinner...Yum! I also have some pastries that were left over from breakfast so I should be good. Last night I wasn't very hungry and I found a sweet little restaurant where they had the best vegetable soup. It was just what I wanted.! And a plate of french fries!! Cubans don't seem to eat a lot of potatoes. I did stop today at a little village and get a little ham sandwich and a couple of pastries. That cost $0.40. No tourist markup there.

Live YOUR dream,


Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 18: Second Rest Day in Trinidad

Fans are used by everyone here. They understand how cooling just having air move over your body. Every room, every restaurant has them. Thank goodness :). The heat had only been bad directly in the sun. It's humid at times but overall quite pleasant temperatures. Evenings are delightful for walking around without a sweater. I'm dreading heading back out into the sun on Blaze tomorrow. Capris and a jacket to keep the pain away.

Today I wandered some of the old museums. One was a convent converted to a Museum about the Banditos of the Revolution.

It even had some English so I got a bit of the story of the Revolution.

Another had a steeple you could climb up for a view of the city, mountains, all the way to the sea. I loved seeing the open air rooms all over the top of the city!

Then I wandered the grocery stores for some food how take with me tomorrow. Each one has different things, although few options. I finally found a can of fruit cocktail and a can of artichoke hearts. I can make a meal from that. That's really how challenging it is. Some stores have no canned goods at all. It's hit and miss. And I was on a mission. I think it was the fourth store where I found these cans. They don't eat processed food at all. Everything is made from scratch in their kitchens basically...except for pizzas at the corner window. Maybe that's why the average lifespan is 78 years. Not bad, hey?!? But not having a kitchen has its drawbacks. So I scramble for travel food.

Live YOUR dream,


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Day 17: First Full Day in Trinidad

Roosters! 4:30 am! Lots of them! Thank goodness I have ear plugs! It's 8:00 am and I had to put them back in because I can't take all the crowing. I like quiet!

Off to tour the city today.

Peaking in dome of the windows:

I make a lousy tourist. I wandered the streets. The buildings are beautiful: quaint, colorful, Spanish tile roofs. I like seeing them. The streets are cobblestoned and hard to walk far on. But oh, the tourists are everywhere and spoil the view. I think that's why I'm so resistant to taking photos. They're offensive. Obnoxious. People must be tired of being photographed. Just be in Trinidad.

I deliberately didn't get breakfast at my Casa this morning figuring I'd find a place to eat. I walked and walked and walked. The idea of a small cafe doesn't really exist. Formal restaurants abound, and were empty. One place was cute, but they were roasting a whole pig over a spit. Totally unappetizing. I finally found a place to get a sandwich and juice and sit down. Yeah! I did tour a Museum of Architecture but couldn't understand the tour. Interesting exhibits showing the mud and stick interior to these walls. I don't understand what's on the outside that makes it smooth though. I wanted to see the Museum Romantico but it was fenced off with no sign explaining what or why. I eventually wandered my way "home" for a nap. Siesta!!

And was awakened by Nino "Katrin! Katrin said ever so gently. He had said something yesterday about 2 chiquitas coming. Well, they're chicos...young French guys. And there's no privacy up here. The rooms all flow from their room to a dining area to my room with the bathroom off of it. Just like a coed hostel dorm. Good thing I'm flexible:). We'll make it work.

I found a Jazz Cafe on my map app so I aimed there for dinner. But after going to the steps at the Plaza Major to watch and listen: live music and dancing. I'm a bit of a party pooper so after checking it out I went to dinner. Good choice. You order off the menu and then they have a salad bar of sorts. I must say the soup was the best thing I've had in awhile! I could have just eaten that! Spaghetti again with lobster and shrimp. They had veggie options but with a cheese sauce. I had to opt out. I haven't found staying off dairy a big challenge and since I eat fish this was perfect. Sin queso. Without cheese.

On my walk home tonight I figured out what the whistles mean. Bread man. So the other morning when I thought the whistle was to wake everyone up, it was probably early morning bread delivery. There are a lot of people walking the streets hawking stuff from brooms to produce and bread. Some just shout. Others blow a whistle. In the rural villages I've seen many a guy on bicycles with homemade coolers strapped to the back selling ice cream. They play music from somewhere just like our ice cream trucks. Cubans love their ice cream!!

I feel quite safe walking the streets at night. Just like anywhere...with a purpose and alert. Ya just have to stay alert about theft. Giving me back change today she shorted me a CUC. I understood she said $6.50 and she gave me $2.50 change. Do that to every customer and you'll make a killing. There's no cash register, just a box of money. Buyer beware.

Found a trail above the city.

A chess match

Goat cart rides for the kiddies.

The saga (rope) was borrowed:)

Loved this drawing of a trike!

And look at this quad triple.

Had to sneak this courtyard picture of what was a palace.

Live YOUR dream,