“Si. That is what I have been trying to tell you,” said Alfredo, matter of fact. “We are in a natural preserve.” And the preserve was 30 miles in length.
“That is not what you’ve been trying to tell me,” I screamed, looking all about me. “That is no where near what you’ve been trying to say!”
I kept a guarded watch the entire day, praying I didn’t have to have a serious bowel movement. I had yet to crap on a crock, and wasn’t about to start now.
By day’s end we had reached the tiny town of Guines, only an hour’s drive from Havana. Alfredo was itching to detour. I ignored his pleas. Placing a call to Lucia Newman at the CNN office, she filled me in on some details. The Story went worldwide just before Thanksgiving, and upset quite a few politicians in DC. There wasn’t much I could do about it, except deal with the issue, if any, when I returned.
Somewhere between Artemisa and Pinar Del Rio we passed the 1000 mile mark of the Tour. We celebrated by resting under a shady bridge a half-hour.
During the Tour, I discovered the last 35 miles was under military guard. We would need special permission to enter the area. In Pinar Del Rio, the last major city on the Tour de Cuba, Alfredo and I secured the necessary documents to finish the vision and enter into history as the only ones to complete the longest cycling tour in Cuba.
I listened to them rant and rave, and asked if they really wanted to arrest Captain America on Christmas Eve for going to a supposed enemy country in peace and friendship? They thought about this for a moment, took a photocopy of my passport saying they would send it to the proper officials in DC, and sent me on my way. There has never been a problem since.
Upon returning to my place in the solitude of the mountains, I had the usual stack of mail and messages to go through whenever I leave for an extended period of time. In that pile, I received the disheartening news that Phyllis died of cancer at 61. Who would I trust now to dream with? Being a bicyclist adventurer didn’t seem so fun anymore. What more could I prove to the world? I was ready to retire.
To dare to dream the dream of dreams is to dare to live your life.
I have dared to live, to seek God’s face, against the world’s abundant strife.
I have dared to look another way. I have dared to live another life.
Dare To Dream, Kevin Foster, February 10, 2000
Well, Lord, where do we dream from here?…
We spent the night in the coastal town of El Cayuco before the final push toward the Westernmost point on the island. The next day we rose early to complete what we had begun. By early morning, we came to the guard post, where the Commandante kept us detained several hours until we were thoroughly checked out. Because of the isolation of the area, the government is always suspicious of anyone, especially the unique combo of a Cuban and American, wanting to enter, for fear their countrymen would try to escape.
“You ever wonder why no American wants to escape his country,” I asked Alfredo, as we sat beside the gate, looking out to the Caribbean before us. He shrugged. “Because where else would we go with all the freedoms we have?”
When permission was finally granted, we took off as soon as the gate was raised, and entered into a world so untouched by man I felt I had passed through another age. Giant komodo dragons darted in front of us. Rats, the size of small dogs, screeched in the nearby brush before appearing. Wild horses and pigs roamed freely.
On the afternoon of December 11th, we came to the final lighthouse that stood like a lonely sentinel. In 21 days, we cycled 1158 miles. It was also my mother’s birthday.
The small group of people that kept watch in the area invited us to spend the night with them, where we enjoyed the beauty of a sunset over a plate of congri. Alfredo was drunk with pride and rum. Who could blame him? I inhaled the glorious colors of God’s pallet before me, and thanked Him for being alive. Another dream had left the shelf to join the other accomplishments.
Reality hit two weeks later when I passed through U.S. Immigration in Toronto, Canada. Before I could return to my own country, officials wanted to have, “a few words with me.” We spoke briefly. Yes, they saw that little news item on TV. Who did I think I was to be so bold? Didn’t I know I could be in serious trouble for provoking other Americans to go to a country that was off limits?