Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Harley nostalgia creeps to the surface

This white dog was named Harley. No joke.

Thanks to Cuban Harley owners who responded to some of my posts, stories and photos about the challenges of maintaining a half-century-old hog in the socialist nation. I ride a 2003 Harley and am amazed at the lengths Cubans go to keep their machines going.

I received this wonderful message from one man who describes himself as an "old school" Harley rider:
For those who haven't gone to Havana, now is the time to do it and not when Castro is gone. I ... used to fix my four Harleys with almost bare hands and handmade tools. I remember the last 1959 Panhead I bought was inside an old rusted wooden box on a very old farm in Matanzas. 150 km from Havana. We all used to make jokes like "I have a flywheel face from Pinar Del Rio and another from Santiago de Cuba!" jaja

I don't know bikes from here, but "our" bikes back in cuba run almost with water inside their tanks.

"They are so alive that they want to remain making noise even with parts made in USSR"

Los americanos no saben lo que inventaron." Some of us used to say that.

We used to gather by the Malecon on Saturdays nights and just talk crap about the latest inventions, racing harleys... helping a friend to fix a leak in the carburetor or gas tanks patched with resins and glue.

At the end of the night, we were just a crazy group having a lot of fun in a communist country riding an American legend.

1946 Knuckleheads, 1937 flatheads, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1959 Panheads...

Thank you God for letting me live and breath those unforgettable 30 years in Havana. Thanks to all of you guys for thinking about us. You know you have a family waiting for you in Havana! Thanks for all your help and support. I am sorry for my bad english.
Then there was this from Javier, who said he appeared in one of the old photos I posted:
Thanks for reminding me of those beautiful moments. I remember having to mix kerosene with gasoline to be able to go to the activities we did with our Harleys and having to push the motorcycles one more time because the batteries had drained and we couldn't start the engines. Having a Harley in Cuba was - and is - the task of superhumans. Congratulations to those who still have them.

Having a Harley in Cuba is one of the biggest and most difficult privileges in the world. It is said that when you own a Harley, freedom is at your reach with a flick of your right hand. But over there (in Cuba), it's not real. It is frustrating to have all the power of a Harley in your hands but not being able to enjoy it to the fullest.
Along the Malecon Harley links:

Hardcore bikers: Sharing gasoline in Havana (Dec. 9, 2008)

Cuban Harlistas Rumbling Along in February issue of American Rider (Dec. 9, 2008)

Hog wild: Anyone have stories about Harley Davidsons in Cuba? (Oct. 12, 2008)

Not exactly hog heaven, but V-twins rumble in Cuba (Sept. 1, 2008)


South Florida Marine Real Estate said...

Asi es. Es una lastima que algunos tuvimos que irnos y dejar parte de nuestra historia corriendo en la habana sin chance de volver a regresar. El sentimiento de haber podido revivir una harley tan vieja es algo que nunca se te olvida. Yo puedo decir que ayude a mantener las harleys vivas en Cuba. Aun cierro los ojos y siento el ruido de mi moto vieja como si me llamara desde la Habana.

Tracey Eaton said...

Debe ser especial. Pues que bueno que ayudaste a mantener a esas maquinas. Un abrazo, Tracey