An interesting fact about Cuba. The island paradise is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and lies just ninety miles south of Key West, Florida. Looking out to sea from land, about the only marine traffic you see is commercial ships and the occasional tourist laden cruise ship. You see, Cuban citizens are not allowed to board a boat without written permission from the Cuban Naval Command Center.
The simple act of boarding a boat in a harbor, to join friends enjoying breakfast on their boat, is forbidden of Cuban citizens. Those citizens that do get the necessary authorization to board a vessel are restricted to sailing in Cuban waters only. This prohibition has become more strictly enforced since President Obama discontinued the America “Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy” which allowed anyone who emigrated from Cuba and entered the United States to pursue residency a year later.
Forbidding your citizens to board a boat on the sea takes away their ability to flee the island! Imagine that!
As mentioned in previous posts, one of our two weeks in Cuba was spent with a group organized by Cuba Unbound. Kayaking Cuba was the emphasis of this group. In addition to transportation and lodging, most meals were included as was anything related to our ability to kayak!
Our first destination after rendezvousing in Havana, was Playa Larga, a sleepy village on the southern shore of the island. Playa Larga sits on the shore of the infamouse Bay of Pigs. The Bay of Pigs is where in 1961, a thousand Cuban exiles stormed the beaches intending to start an uprising that would end in the toppling of the Castro Revolutionary government.
It was made to look, in every way, that the invasion was plotted and executed by aggrieved Cuban exiles, who gave up everything in their homeland when they fled to America after Revolution triumphed. But, in reality, it was plotted and planned with the full support of the American government, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency.
That’s a whole other story, one worth learning about for those curious. Our mission in Playa Larga was to enjoy two days of kayaking in the Bay of Pigs and in the Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata.
Cuba Unbound, our tour outfitter, supplied all of the kayaks, paddles, PFD’s and shuttling services during the trip. They made it pretty easy on us, but for the actual paddling. The weather was perfect, and the waters were calm for the most part. The paddle across the Bay of Pigs and back was about six miles in total.
Playa Larga was a very nice spot to visit. Hostal Enrique was a great place to stay. It was clean, friendly, the food was very good and the service at the bar was slow but friendly!
Check back soon for my next post about kayaking in the Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata. And Merry Christmas, y’all!