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CUBA

ample, two large ships entering, two small ships leaving, harbor closed to all traffic. We see a panel with some phones and VHF radios at least 20 years old and a large handwritten log book, into which one man is writing information about an American-flagged ship(!) that entered the harbor a few minutes previous. I ask about the ship that is now approaching and am told it is Canadian. Usually six or seven ships per day, including an increasing number of cruise ships, enter the harbor; only a few are Cuban-flagged. Most fly a flag of convenience, e.g. Liberia, Panama, Bahamas. The man at the panel switches the VHF radio to the NOAA Key West weather frequency; the reception is excellent and so is the forecast for the next few days. Returning to channel 16, we overhear a vessel apEl Morro Light proaching Key West. One of the other men motions for me to look to the Castillo Cabaña, finding the entrance this time and buythrough some Nikon 20x120 binoculars on a wheeled tripod: ing the proper tickets. He troops all over the highest levels, I see the head of the 15-meter marble Jesus poking up over mainly rooftops, throughout one of the largest colonial forthe Castillo Cabaña. The man motions for Tony, who jokes tresses in the Americas. Built following the English invasion, about seeing a fly in Christ’s ear. Then, he wheels it to anit covers 10 hectares, runs 700 meters in length. When it was other window, and I see the upper half of the Bacardi Buildcompleted, King Carlos III of Spain, who paid for it, took up ing in Habana Vieja, across the harbor. Just to compare, I look his telescope saying, surely a fort so big (and expensive) could through my 300-millimeter telephoto lens at the same buildbe seen from Madrid. It is large and imposing enough to have ing; it takes a while even to find it in the skyline! The third deterred any enemy from staging an offensive by land or sea. man then shows us some black coral jewelry he has for sale. The moats surrounding it are 12 meters deep, carved from We leave a $1 contribution and explore the rest of the fort, solid rock serving to separate individual fortress components. starting with lunch at a restaurant opposite the lighthouse Tony continually marvels at the design from a military view. museum. The food is reasonably good and reasonably priced; Even the peaceful garden was once packed with explosives it is especially good to sit down. The one-room lighthouse that could be ignited to foil an enemy’s attempt to gain entry. museum has pictures and descriptions of the 13 major lights Linda and I rest in the cool shade while Tony explores ways on Cuba’s coast. A geological model of the country and the ocean to get back to the ferry without going all the way around. We bottom surrounding it also shows the location and appearance see streets within the fort lined with what we envision were of the lighthouses. Many of the lighthouses are over 100 years once fort offices, shops, officers’ quarters, stores - and will be old and have a good reputation for reliability to help keep mariagain someday if Disney shows up. There is a chapel, a hisners off the many reefs and low-lying cays that surround Cuba. tory museum and a Museo Che Guevara, who had his headWe leave el Morro and follow Tony on the path less taken quarters here in January 1959. We bypass all that and walk down the hill, back to Casablanca, arriving only a minute before the ferry departs. Back in Habana Vieja, we stop for a mojito at the Bar Dos Hermanos, a favorite of the poet Federico García Lorca in 1930 (perhaps he ran a tab there, too). Again, it is good to get off our feet, and the car-watching keeps us busy. Walking back to the bus stop, we see a bride in a horse carriage being photographed in the Plaza de San Francisco. Later, she whizzes by, perched on the back seatback of a red and white 1957 Sunliner convertible. The groom is nearly invisible. We will miss this amazing country of contrasts and hope to return soon. Any comments or thoughts about this article, or the subject matter? Southwinds would like to hear from you. E-mail letters to the editor: editor@southwindssailing.com 28

November 2003

Southwinds

www.southwindssailing.com

Southwindsnovember2003  

http://www.southwindsmagazine.com/pdfs-issues/southwindsnovember2003.pdf

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