El Corazon de Cuba
Educational Program


Santa Cruz del Norte

Yumuri Valley, Cuba Bacunayagua Bridge, longest and highest in Cuba For our final day of riding we headed up a beautiful, serene, Yumuri farming valley. Near the end we headed up a very steep hill for a few hundred meters, made a couple more twists and turns and got on to the Via Blanca, the main highway between Havana and Matanzas.

We rode along the coast, and it was magnificent. Long gradual climbs, long descents, great views, and very little traffic. We rolled downhill on to the Bacunayagua Bridge (the longest, highest and proudest in Cuba) as it spanned a deep gorge, with low, rugged mountains on the left, the ocean on the right. Construction was started in 1956, and completed in October 1959.

The pristine ecosystem beneath Bacunayagua Bridge has it own value; the hillsides support semi-deciduous forest and much of the valley floor is mangroves and wetlands. The mixed ecology provide a great natural refuge for birds and animals. There 74 species of birds, 16 reptiles and eight amphibians in the habits.


Bacunayagua BridgeBacunayagua BridgeIt was a beautiful last day. Our legs were strong, the sun was still out, and the kilometers rolled away under our wheels.

Santa Cruz el Norte is a bit of an industrial center. It has a rum factory, cigar rolling factory, paper factory, large power generating plant and is the center of Cuba's meager oil fields.  Despite the industrial base the town has the feel and look of a village.

Historical Notes (1999):

Santa Cruz el Norte, CubaIn the 1980s and 90s, Santa Cruz el Norte was one of the exit points for Cubans heading to the United States. Occasionally the Cuban government would adds extra patrols there.  In the late 1990's, none of this seems to affect the locals attitude about visiting Americans.  We met other Cuba-Americans in town who said they were having a great time with their relatives and the hospitality that we received from the merchants who served us pizza and ice cream was no different from that we had received anyplace else.

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