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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #16  
Old 5 Sep 2012
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I believe that the last country in the Americas to require a carnet was Uruguay and they fell into line in October 2003. Ride safe and spend the money you've saved on mas cerveza.
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  #17  
Old 30 Oct 2012
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Hi guy's!

The Stahlratte is going for another trip to Cuba starting at 10.4.2013

AND we're on it

Anyone else is going ???

Really looking forward to , and enjoy the caribic


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  #18  
Old 31 Dec 2012
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Cuba

Went there with Lulu last Spring. Music was great everywhere, but took 3 days to get permission to ride. Wasn't cheap, people are friendly, but complain about what they don't have, and food was not great. A Canadian with us did not like it at all and of the 72 countries I've been to, Cuba would be one of the last I would consider returning to. I especially disliked the poor customer service (it is a socialist country) and excessive attention by lots of people whenever stopping.
Definitely stay in casas particulares and save a lot of money by eating at places where you can use Pesos Cubanos instead of Pesos Convertibles.
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  #19  
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Notes from our 2014 Cuba trip via the Stahlratte

Cat and I just got back from, and had a wonderful ride through, Cuba and we wanted to share a few notes about the trip that might be helpful for others making plans. We traveled on the Stahlratte from Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Cienfuegos, Cuba. It was our first trip on the Stahlratte and it's my understanding that in the past it had been making annual trips to Cuba via Columbia-->Jamaica-->Cuba-->Mexico-->Panama-->Columbia, but, on a suggestion from Ken and Carol Duval, this year they turned around in Mexico and went back to Cuba and then sailed us back to Mexico before heading on.

There were seven souls and six motorcycles total, traveling to Cuba. We loaded the bikes up in Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun on the evening of the 29th of April. Ludwig, or Lulu as he's casually known and his crew were great. The bikes were hoisted aboard, wrapped in tarps and lashed topside to the gunnels. We were told to meet back at the ship the next morning so that Ludwig could deal with Mexico Immigration and Customs. We ended up setting sail in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 30th of April and arrived in Cienfuegos in the early afternoon on Saturday the 3rd of May. The seas were rough and it was boring at times, but, it was an experience I'll never forget. From Lulu captaining the ship in his 'budgie smuggler' underwear to listening to stories from other travelers over meals served on deck, the Stahlratte was truly much, much more than a tool to get you from Mexico to Cuba and I highly recommend it.

Aduana officials boarded the boat shortly after we arrived and spent around four hours searching the boat, locking up the GPS devices and processing our passports. They don't stamp your passport unless you ask them to and for those from the USA that's a good policy. With Aduana's permission the bikes were unloaded on Saturday night and we parked them at the end of the dock within view of the officials. We stayed on board that night and in the morning we walked into town and exchanged money at the Cadeca, found a room at a Casa Particular nearby and completed the purchase of the necessary medical insurance paperwork (for US only) in the marina offices. We all gathered at the marina early Monday and Aduana worked on our paperwork until mid afternoon when we were instructed to drive to the downtown office to finish the paperwork and pay the necessary fees. I think it was $10 each. From there we road to the Ministry of Transportation offices and they took rubbings of the chassis and engine VIN's, photographed the bikes and entered our passport data into a very old computer before issuing us a temporary drivers license and license plates. That cost around another $30 each. They worked with us until 7pm that night even though the offices were supposed to close at 5pm. We then rode the bikes back to the Marina as we still needed a sticker from Aduana that was given to us on Tuesday morning before we were officially finished with all of the paperwork and all headed off on our adventures. Ludwig's crew held our hands and led our motley crew through the streets of Cienfuegos from location to location to complete this entire process. I can't say enough about them and they do a similar, but faster, process again when you return to board for the sail back to Mexico.

While in Cuba Cat and I stayed in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Ciego de Avila, Santa Clara, Habana, Vinales, and Playa Larga, otherwise known as "The Bay of Pigs". Knowing that we couldn't us our GPS, we bought a Streetwise Cuba map on Ebay for $8.95, including shipping, and it worked fine. The road signs were confusing at times and finding a place to securely store your bikes can be a challenge. We never booked anything in advance, and all but one night we stayed in casa particulars. They were usually $25 and would serve you dinner or breakfast at a reasonable rate if you wished. The touts in some towns can be aggressive and annoying, but, be patient as sometimes they are invaluable! We did get stopped twice at checkpoints and once on the autopista. The officials were always very polite and really just wanted to look at the bikes. They never asked to see any paperwork nor did they detain us for more than a few minutes.

We'd do this trip again in a heartbeat. We had the privilege to ride, party and make friends with the Latin American Motorcycle Association of Cuba while they enjoyed their annual conference. We saw Socialism at work first hand and have a better understanding of the benefits the people enjoy, as well as, the isolationism and sometimes contradictory culture. The newer big bikes stood out and at times we were surrounded by Cubans asking questions. Sometimes it was fun and sometimes we felt like gluttonous imperialists. We found the Cubans to be friendly, interesting and well educated. Like the rest of the world you had to stay alert and watch that you weren't hustled when in the urban areas. We had some adversity along the way and that added to the adventure in the end. If you are thinking about going to Cuba, we'd urge you to do it. It was truly a very special journey. Do it before it changes.

All our best,

Kev & Cat

Some links that might be useful:

Cat's Blog will be "Choc-a-block" full of stories and pictures from Cuba by mid August 2014: Ride the World Adventures

The Stahlratte: stahlratte segeln shuttle panama kolumbien cartagena panama san blas cuba jamaika

Info on the North Carolina HU Travellers Meeting where Ken and Carol Duval will be making a Cuba presentation: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...-meeting-73736

A great ride report on Cuba from Mark Harf in 2013: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...-in-cuba-69120

Peter and Kay Forwood's trip to Cuba in 2002: Peter & Kay Forwood trip on a Harley-Davidson to Cuba

Mi Moto Fidel, an award winning book by Christopher P. Baker about his motorcycle journey through Cuba in 1996: Christopher P Baker � mi moto fidel
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  #20  
Old 5 Days Ago
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Very cool. Thanks for the report!

FWIW, your three days dealing with paperwork in Cienfuegos sounds remarkably quick compared to my 5 or 6 (can't remember anymore, but you've linked to my old post above). Ludvig is a bit of a magician wherever he goes, as I've discovered on various occasions.

The pre-eminent thread by a rider in Cuba was by Throttlemeister on ADVrider.com. John might need an editor at times, but his enthusiasm and willingness to investigate out-of-the-way nooks and crannies are totally infectious. Worth a search on that site by anyone planning to go.

There's a good Cuban road atlas available in-country--far superior to the maps you find on E-bay. I bought mine for 10 or 15 CUC at the tourist information stand in La Habana.

Cuban touts are not in the same league (IMHO) as those found in many parts of the world. Violent crime is almost unknown, and property crime is of the petty, opportunistic variety--a really relief if you've been riding in Latin America or anyplace near population centers in the USA. I found police uniformly courteous and calm--another definite plus. The process of importing and licensing the bike, on the other hand, was exhausting--worthy of, say, India.

Looking forward to reading your blog when it's posted. Perhaps an update on this thread when it happens….?

best,

Mark
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  #21  
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As one of the motley crew having my hand held in Cienfuegos with Kev and Cat I have to agree with everything that they said about Cuba. All of us found it a rewarding experience that pulls at the heartstrings and can be frustrating as hell and confusing at times and full of wonderment at others. But it is a unique experience and overall an experience that shouldn't be missed given the opportunity.

It is a beautiful country and larger than you think. Most of us covered 3000 kilometres plus. Make sure your bike is in good condition because you won't find parts for modern bikes. However you may end up with a brake system from a tractor or piston rings modified from a stationary engine to get you going. They WILL be able to fix it. The ingenuity in Cuba is second to none. What the Latin American Motorcycle Association can do with old bikes is astounding and they all run beautifully.

I put together a video of my experience on You Tube.



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