This is the second part of our Cuban Adventures that I wrote and am submitting to a sailing magazine to see if they will publish it. Fingers crossed!
As the sun rose the second morning we were chugging along the southeastern part of Cuba. We passed Guantanamo Bay in the dark and had a US Coast Guard cutter, with all lights out except for the navigation lights, pass us going the opposite direction. There was less than a quarter mile between us and they were radio silent until they were well away from us 5-10 minutes later. It was a bit eerie and is about as close as I want to get to that particular bay, if you know what I mean.
Just after lunch we arrived at the entrance to Santiago de Cuba and I was amazed how the natural, narrow entrance cut through the cliffs and hills to open up into a gigantic bay (I found out most of the bays in Cuba are like this). Almost 400 years ago the Spanish built Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca on the eastern side of the entrance going from water level to the top of the cliffs after both the French and English attacked at different times. It was impressive to look up at this fortress, which is now a World Heritage Site, as we entered the bay. Once tied up to the crumbling docks of the international marina we took care of entry requirements with the port captain, immigration, and the doctor. All in all it took an hour or two and I was amazed at how quick we were processed through. That evening we took a water taxi to Cayo Granma, in the harbor, and were taken to the roof of a local’s house where we had the most delightful dinner accompanied with music by two local musicians and we had it just to the three of us.
The next morning we were about to head out and catch a bus or taxi into town, five miles away, when my cousin said officials were heading down the dock. I came up thinking it was just the port captain giving us more information. Oh no, no, no, was I wrong. Apparently the officials we saw yesterday were just a preview. There must have been 8-12 various officials and dogs walking down the dock to talk to and inspect Guiding Light and three other boats that came in during the night. When I say inspect the vessel, I mean INSPECT the vessel. They had the dog up on the counter, in the cabinets, and on the beds. They were lifting up floorboards and in various holds while another customs agent went through Lily’s panties….one by one. After over three hours we were told we were NOW cleared to leave the marina and into town. Now, that is more like what I expected communist bureaucracy to be like!
Story continues tomorrow!