All but three of our group have returned to the U.S, and still there have been no problems reported. I’m expecting a perfect record for the three expeditions I’ve facilitated this year—no bags opened in Cuban customs going in, and no bags opened in U.S. customs coming home.
For years I’ve joked to my friends that someday I would love to own a Harley Franchise in Cuba. It would be a great country to see from the back of a Harley Hog. Roads and highways are far less crowded than in the U.S, although once in a while they must be shared with a horse-drawn cart or a goat wandering across the roadway. (I’ve driven in remote areas where I didn’t see another vehicle for hours.) Quaint, comfortable Bed-and-Breakfast Inns are scattered along the coasts and in the mountains. Winters in Cuba are about as perfect for motorcycling as you can find anywhere—the dry season typically only has occasional brief, scattered showers, and the temperature range along the coasts is terrific—in the mid 80’s during the day and in the 60’s at night. In the mountains, the lows are cooler during the evening, depending on the elevation.
But even the wet season in the summer could make for some terrific riding. Extended periods of rain are generally rare, especially on the south coast. There often are dramatic afternoon thunderstorms, with thunder, lightning, and monsoon-like downpours. But it is not cold rain, and Harley enthusiasts know how to deal with a little precipitation. I know—you are probably thinking, “But what about hurricanes?” Keep in mind that a rule of thumb is that if you plan a future trip to a particular part of Cuba during hurricane season, which peaks in August and September, the odds of being seriously affected by a hurricane during a particular time is about a thousand to one. I’ve never hesitated visiting Cuba during the peak of hurricane season. I get a kick out summer’s lightning and thunder, which is very stimulating. (It’s relatively rare in the states I’ve lived in—California and Hawaii.) Besides, Harley fanatics, who are adventurous enough to challenge U.S. Foreign Policy and ride the backroads of Castro’s Cuba while smoking premium Cohiba cigars, aren’t going to be overly-concerned that a little wind from a stinkin’ hurricane might slow them down.
Now, I’m sorry to report that I probably won’t ever own that franchise—it already exists, along with several others. After checking into the possibility of “Researching two-wheeled transportation systems in rural Cuba” for a friend, I came across the following website: http://www.MotorcycleToursCuba.com. This seems like the most reasonable agency, and includes a Harley rental per person or per couple. I really like the hotels they selected for their tours.
Another agency can be visited at: http://www.motodiscovery.com/Motorcycle-Tours/Cuba-Motorcycle-Tours. This is a new, very expensive tour with a company which has been granted a Specific License from U.S. Treasury. This is the tour for those with lots of money, and want absolutely no doubt about the appropriateness of the tour with regards to U.S. Foreign Policy.
http://www.wowcuba.com/wowcuba2/articulo.php?articulo=Cuba%20Motorcycle%20Tours&id_idioma=2 is the tour to take if you MUST ride your own bike through Cuba. The price seems reasonable and includes shipping your bike from Halifax, Canada.
And finally, if you want to vicariously ride through Cuba on the back of a cherry-red, 1000cc BMW Paris-Dakar motorcycle, read: Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba, by Christopher Baker, who also happens to be one of the top experts on traveling in Cuba and Costa Rica. He managed to ship his bike to Cuba through Mexico, and rode around the country in 1996, which was during the height of the massive depression known as the Special Period. Baker also has a website and blogs about Cuba: http://www.moon.com/blogs/cuba-costa-rica