At first I didn’t realize it was a mountain. All I knew was that I had ridden out past the edge of a small town to a place where the road suddenly changed. It curved back and forth, meandering upward through forested hills, becoming steeper and more narrow as I rode on. Time passed, and the shoulders of the road disappeared.
I stopped at around 7 PM that first night to search for a place to stay. With the hammock and sleeping bag stuffed deep inside my pack I had dreamed of camping in the countryside and experiencing a night under the stars in Cuba. Sadly, that dream was crushed by the sheer amount of private farmland that bordered the highway for the entire ride, and I didn’t want to get in trouble for camping on private land or government property.
As I lay on the side of the road, the afternoon sun bearing down on me and threatening to steal away my consciousness, I could hear the throaty rumble of a motor headed my way. I barely registered the rusty blue taxi that passed little more than arm’s length in front of me, leaving a cloud of lead-laden exhaust in its wake. Exhaustion spread through me like a virus, and I sat still in the silence.