Cuba's other side

Cuba's other side

Our first encounter with Cuba during our days in Marina Vita and on our road trip was fantastic in many ways, although, we sometimes glimpsed how hard life can be for the Cuban people with all the strange rules and the lack of money and supplies. But as always you don't really get it as a tourist and I guess we never can, but lately the Cuban ways have affected us directly and we are feeling a bit frustrated.

After Sofia's last post we got an email from Escape telling us that the anchorage outside Cayo Coco was affected by swell and not very well protected, they suggested we meet up in a bay outside Cayo Guillermo instead. The distance we had to sail the next day was twice as long as that to Cayo Coco so we stood up early and sailed almost the whole day arriving next to Escape in the afternoon. After a stroll ashore (found nothing but a beach restaurant) we went over to Escape. Tom had news about the weather, stronger winds from the northwest were predicted for Tuesday or Wednesday and we agreed that the anchorage outside Cayo Guillermo wasn't good enough for us. We had during Low Water less than 0,5 m water under the keel and the protection from a norther or northwesterly wind was bad. Since we were looking for beaches and internet, most likely found in a tourist area, we all agreed to go to Varadero. The distance from Cayo Guillermo was about 160 nm, forcing us to once again rise early to be able to make it before Tuesday night. We left in light winds which during the day increased. Sofia was worse again and couldn't do anything but lie in her bunk. Catrine and I took turns in the cockpit, sometimes it rained, sometimes we were hit by gusts and during the night I saw lightning. Without any proper night sleep for more than 4 days Catrine and I were exhausted when we closed in on the channel leading into the shallow waters on the east side of Varadero. At least Sofia was starting to feel a bit better again. Escape called us over the VHF, but we could hardly here them. They were trying to say something about the bridge, after a while we figured out that it was broken. To go from the east side to Marina Acua in Varadero there is a canal and a lifting bridge, apparently the bridge wasn't working. We told Escape that we would call them when we got closer and continued with the wind behind us. Soon we were companied by big dolphins, Catrine's first view of wild dolphins, watching them jump and swim around made us smile. When we called Escape again we heard that they were in the Marina Acua, they had taken the western entrance instead. We discussed whether we should turn around and go that way as well or if we should continue towards the anchorage in Cueva del Muerto outside the canal leading to Marina Acua. We decided to continue towards the anchorage, there we could get rid of the seaweed and the other stuff that grow on Cantare's hull and take the dinghy ashore. The way to Marina Hemingway would be longer since we would have to sail back and then around the Peninsula de Hicacos but on the other hand we would reach our destination before it got dark, which we wouldn't if we turned around. As we got into the anchorage bay we could see the bridge and went over to it to make sure that it wasn't working. It wasn't, we were told by a man on one of the boats tide up along the canal. Alright, it was worth a try.

On 2,8 m we dropped the anchor and then started to prepare ourselves for a trip ashore. It didn't take long before we were greeted by men in uniforms on a motor boat getting ready to tie up next to us. They asked for our passports, ship's papers and cruising permit, but they didn't come aboard. After filling out forms and asking us a few questions about the boat they told us that we were not allowed to anchor here. We could stay for one night but then we would have to leave in the early morning. As if that wasn't enough, they also told us that we were in no ways allowed to take the dinghy ashore, we were to stay on the boat. I explained to them that we probably wouldn't be able to leave tomorrow because of the strong winds and our small engine but they insisted that it would be possible in the morning when the winds normally are lighter and asked us if we wanted a place in the marina. We were chocked, Sofia thanked the men, that was more than I was able to at the moment, and they went away. We set the alarm on 6 am but before it went of I knew that we wouldn't be able to leave, during the night I had heard the wind howl and decided that it was to dangerous to go against the breaking waves in the entrance channel. I asked the girls weather they wanted to stay here and argue with the officials or if they wanted to go to another marina on the north end of the peninsula. They agreed that it was better to stay here than spending the whole day forcing Cantare against the waves and wind in maybe less than 2 knots speed to reach the other marina in the end of the day. Sofia seems to be much better today and was up and about as normal, after a while she decided to call the harbour master on VHF channel 16 asking for permission to go ashore. The man who answered was very friendly and told us that he would call the authorities and ask. Sadly he returned to us a few minutes later with a no. It was not possible for us to go ashore, but at least we were allowed to stay anchored until the weather gets better. Escape had of course overheard the conversation and Tom sounded almost as dreary as we felt when we talked to him afterwards. Here we were not far apart, the difference between us huge though, they are allowed ashore because they are in the marina and we are not. I guess that might be a bit like how the Cubans feel about the tourists and themselves.

This morning I finished a book called Broken Paradise / Ghost Heart (Drommehjerte in Norwegian) by Cecilia Samartin. It's about two Cuban cousins, one of them leaves Cuba with her family after the revolution, the other one stays. The book is amazing and although it is fiction, since the author was only 9 months old when her family left Cuba, it is built up by stories her family and friends have told her. It feels realistic and is deeply touching. Read it if you are interested in how people felt when the revolution took place and during the years after it, the people here are still affected by it and so are we for the moment. / La Captitan

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