Arrival February 2012
The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on what is now the island of Cuba and claimed it for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, after which it came briefly under the administration of the United States until gaining formal independence in 1902. Its fragile democracy became increasingly dominated by radical politics, and while the Cuban Constitution of 1940 sought to strengthen its democratic system, the country came under the dictatorship of former president Fulgencio Batista in 1952, who intensified already rampant corruption, political repression and crippling economic regulations. Growing unrest and instability led to the ousting of Batista in January 1959 by the July 26 movement, which afterward established a new administration under Fidel Castro. By 1965, the country had developed into a single-party state under the revived Communist Party of Cuba, which holds power to date.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and with over 11 million people, it is also the most populous, albeit with a much lower population density than most Caribbean nations. Its people, culture, and customs draw from diverse sources, such as the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves and its proximity to the United States.
Cuba is a poor developing country but it still has a both high life expectancy and literacy rate. The country operates a national health system and assumes fiscal and administrative responsibility for the health care of all its citizens; the infant death rate is lower than some developed countries, and the average life expectancy at birth is 78 years Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate with free education at every level. According to the United Nations, Cuba was the only nation in the world in 2006 that met the World Wide Fund for Nature's definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007
Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm with Elizabeth II as Queen of Jamaica and head of state.
13 March 2012
Fourteen days in Cienfuegos are a long time, unless you have a good crowd around you, most of the „Port Antonio-gang" arrived here almost at the same time. We had to wait for our go ahead from the boat insurance that we are allowed to go west of 90°. Some of the others went to Havanna with their bikes on the roof of the taxi, others flew or went by bus. Havanna seems to be the place, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. We went to Trinidad and thought it was a bit overated, very touristy with the usual traps, an afternoon is plenty. We are planning to go to Havanna by boat after we have spent the hurricane season in the Rio Dulce.
We are now in Cayos Logos, one of the Islands reserved for tourists only, lots of white sandy beaches, beautiful water, palm trees, reefs for snorkeling. Nice, but not the real Cuba, it could be anywhere in the Caribbean. Cubans come here only to work for 20 days on and one week off . There is no school, no hospital or village shop or farm garden anywhere, just Hotels, bars and restaurants and an international airport. All so different to the many islands we went to in the Jardines de la Reina. Or to Marea de Papillon, everyone tried to get us into their houses and sell some of their produce, at dusk the fishermen came swimming out to our boat with eggs and tomatoes and wanted to sell diesel, which they would have swam out to our boat at night, for at least a mile to our anchorage. We have seen a lot of very creative art and handcrafted things and of course the old cars, just amazing!
The marinas are in a very bad state of repair, the tap water smells and is salty, food supplies limited (no limes for your lobster or mojito ). Still, we love to come back to this country, our heart goes out to these wonderful people of Cuba.
15 February 2012
I have about 30 sec. , we enjoy Cuba, speak to you later. I wrote that sentence almost two month ago in a hotel lobby, where you had access to a computer. The Cuban internet is prehistoric, painfully slow and very scarce to have. We are in Mexico now and have internet access on our boat, nice..but ...
The passage from Jamica to Cuba started with some strong winds and after two thirds of the way I put the engine on during my nightwatch, the wind just died down completely. We buddied with the German boat "Nirvana", they caught a Blue Marlin of 2,3 m , never heard of a sailboat catching a Marlin! It took Rolf over an hour to reel the fish in, it put up a mighty fight. We ate the fish in the Yachtclub prepared by the Cuban staff - what a toughy that was, very dry meat from that athletic fish, did not enjoy it much, in fact I could not eat it at all.
The checking in procedure was lengthly and very repetitive, we had 6 people coming aboard from different departments, the sniffer dog was cute, as much as the handler. All were very courteous and some spoke a bit of English. I had to show the boat to all of them and it was more like a visit than a serious search. Only one of them asked for something, he wanted a USB stick and Richard gave him an old one, he was very disappointed it was not 2 GB, days later another wanted a razor and was overjoyed when I gave him the whole packet. Things like that they can only buy in the Panamerican shops with hard currency.
The habour of Santiago de Cuba it indeed very polluted, you can see it, smell it and feel it everywhere, our boat looks dreadful, will take endless hours of polishing and cleaning. But I think it is worth it. Santiago is a very special place. We took a local bus into town, which is 16km away from the Marina, you have to make sure you take a seat before it is too late you will be squashed and you will not be able to hang onto anything. Walking down the "Music Street" during daytime hours is quite something, you come to the famous "Buena Vista Social Club" and there will always be somebody singing and playing the guitar or a band playing in one of the many café´s or bars. At night you have to pay entrance fees and put up with big loudspeakers, lovely to watch people dance. Taking Salsa lessons is one of the tourist attractions, as well as Spanish lessons.
29 March 2012
Surfing, what a pleasure it was, jumping from the boat straight onto our surfboards. We had four super surfdays in Cayo Largo, we could zoom up and down the lagoon from one shallow spot to the next. I can´t remember a more enjoyable surfsession. I did not have to share my board this time, since Richard could use his small board in this lovely strong breeze as well. Sailing or Surfing? I take the surfing any day, its like riding a motorbike compared to riding a bus.
We had a wonderful time in Cayo Largo, meeting lovely people, lots of long beach walks, always ending up our round at the Dolphin show, which made us laugh every time, when the people were lifted up by two dolphins and stood on their noses screaming with joy and surprise. We could also use the kajak a lot and the swimming was wonderful. The anchorage was very peaceful, no disco music, no venders approaching our boat, just perfect. One evening we spent in one of the hotel ´s enjoyed a good buffet and plenty of Mojitos at the bar.
Checking out of Kuba was easy, just three officials came aboard, filled in a lot of the same boat details again, we had our $10,- worth of stamp duty bought in a bank and we were free to leave. The next stop was so to speak "illeagal", we stayed for several nights at a very beautiful deserted little Island to brake up our trip to Mexico, Yucatan. Our fridge was totally empty of fresh produce, the only vegetable you could buy in Cayo Largo were tomatoes, onions and potatos, all at a premium . When we arrived in Isla Mujeres I was greeted by Romy from "TiTaRo" with a mango and a kiwi..oh..my God I devoured the fruit greedily, I missed fruits and went out quickly to get lots. Now we are back to our fruit breakfast, feels such a good start ot the day.