Cuba – Day 2 – Sun Cruise

Woke up crazy early (well half six) and was felling a bit groggy due to rum consumption. Thankfully I was able to get up and manage some breakfast before our bus came just after 8. I didn’t take my Nikon as I was worried being in a boat in the sea plus dolphinarium plus probable rain would be a bad combination for my fairly new toy.

As we ate breakfast there was a big downpour and we wondered if the the excursion would go ahead. The heavy rain only lasted about ten minutes until it died down then stopped completely. After that the sun was shining again.

We arrived a few minutes early at the front of the hotel and soon enough the bus arrived. As we got on the bus the tour guide took our tickets and asked if we would like “Lobster, Chicken or Pasta” for lunch. Despite not being fussed on the previous nights lobster I thought I’d give it another chance. He then gave us a “disclaimer” for reading (i.e. don’t annoy the dolphins etc). The bus left the hotel and stopped at another hotel to pick some more people up then we drove down a less traveled road to get to the marina.

We walked on to the catamaran and had to take our shoes off. At the same time we were giving a “scuba pipe” and we waited for the boat to leave. The guy who took our lunch order then introduced himself (I think his name was Fernando – for the rest of this post he will be Fernando) and also introduced the Captain and the rest of the crew. He advised that the water was choppy for the previous few days and today would be too but shouldn’t be as bad. He also advised that there was a free bar… whoo!  There were 12 of us on the boat which had room for 80.

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We left the marina and sailed in the bay before we got to the ocean. It wasn’t to bad and the scenery was nice. Some people lay in the netted area and chilled out. Soon we hit the ocean and the boat got a bit bumpier. The people in the nets soon came back as the water was splashing up on them! As the ocean got bumpy I looked to the horizon and worried about the incoming black clouds.

Soaked in rain!

Soaked in rain!

Soon we sailed into the rain and sadly there was little shelter in the boat therefore I was very wet very quickly and my clothes were saturated. As soon as the rain started, the rain had stopped and my clothes started to dry off very quickly.P1040750

The boat stopped at a coral for scuba diving. I didn’t bother with the scuba diving as I only remembered how to swim the previous day and didn’t think I was strong enough (even with a life jacket). Though afterwards I regretted not going for a little splash about then getting back on the boat straight away.

P1040755 While the scuba was happening Leona and I chilled out on the netted area and caught some sun. The recent rain storm was a distant memory. As we lay there the rocking boat started to unsettle me so I get some cola. I noticed that Fernando was preparing a snack of Tuna/Peppers on a tray and a box of crackers. It didn’t look appetising but it was very tasty and it actually settled my stomach.

Castro!

Castro!

The scubees got back on the boat too and most of us hung around the bar eating tuna crackers or getting beverages. It was at this time that Fernando decided to point out to the rest of the boat that with my beard and hat I looked like a young Fidel Castro. For the rest of the day he referred to me as Fidel or “Commander and Chief”. The boat left the coral and we set sail for the dolphins.

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When we got close to the dolphinarium we were advised that we couldn’t take catamaran over but another boat was coming over to pick us up. All of us made it onto the second boat without falling in to the sea and we sailed to the dolphinarium.

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Once we arrived I quickly changed into my swim gear and directed to the area we would be swimming in. Sadly we were going to be in a shallower area so there would be no need for life jackets (layers are kind to me). Before I got into the water I could hear Fernando asking “Where is Fidel?”. When he spotted me he asked the dolphin trainer if she agreed with the comparison. She laughed.

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Fernando took our cameras and we got into the water. To his credit he took photos for everyone – thankfully our group was small enough for him to cope. We were introduced to Brenda the Dolphin and got to hang out with her for a few minutes and pet them. Swimming with dolphins wasn’t something on my to-do list, but it was still pretty cool. Normally I’d have concerns about exploitation but the dolphins seemed happy and treated well.  We were with Brenda for about 10 minutes and then they were left to swim about on their own. We had a professional photograph taken for $20CUC – I got on my knees for it so the waterlevel came close to my neck (layers/friend etc).

There was another section where, if you paid extra, the dolphins can do extra tricks. I didn’t feel right about that as I’m a heavy lump and wouldn’t want a small dolphin to drag me round some water, or push me in the air with their nose. So we passed on that, got dried off and went to the bar – which seemed to be part of the all inclusive drink that was on the boat!

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Before lunch we got to watch a seal show. It was entertaining. Once again you could worry about exploitation but a gate was open the seals darted to the stage. Obviously with the prospect of free fish. Maybe, in fact, they were playing us! After the show they darted back to the gate and into the sea.

Before we walked into the lunch hall Fernando said something that filled me with dread, as the group was so small they were going to sit us all together.. groan! Thankfully it wasn’t too bad. Leona and I were sitting beside a woman from Toronto and her cool boyfriend from Montreal (he had his own scuba gear and a go pro… I bet he surfs!). The melters were at the bottom of the table. Well, one melter, from Canada was in conversation with some people from Birmingham with some inane gems like “Do you have coffee in England” “Yes!”, “What TV shows do you watch?” “Coronation Street” “Do you know Breaking Bad?”, “Would you ever consider visiting Canada?” “No”…. groan!

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My second lobster was a lot tastier than my first. Mainly for the inclusion of garlic butter! The fella from Montreal mentioned the lobster with the claws which must not be available where we were. I ate all mine up and had some of Leona’s chicken which was also tasty but massive!

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After dinner we hung out until the boat arrived. There were sunbeds at the docking area so we lay there and took in the view and some sun. Every few minutes I would walk to the bar and make use of the free drink getting many Pina Slushie and Rum. You get dicks saying places were “paradise” but this definitely was!

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The boat arrived to take us back to the catamaran and the… boat driver.. offered to let people pose for photos driving the boat, though I didn’t partake. We got back on the catamaran and sailed back. After a while the crew raised the mast, turned the engine off  and we sailed back for a bit. I had a few beers and it was all quite relaxing.

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We soon made it back to shore, we left a tip to the crew for all their good work. As I got of the catamaran Fernando saluted me and said “Commander and Chief! Have a good day”. We got the bus back to the hotel and on the way back I noticed a sign for the dolphinarium (i.e. it would have been quicker by road!) and when we pulled up to the first hotel to let people of I realised it was the same hotel we could see from the boat at the coral! It was a convoluted way to get to where we were going but it was fun.

When we got back to the hotel I stopped at the hotel shop to get some more cola for the rum and we also picked up some sparkling wine for the room. The shop keeper also persuaded me to get some cigars. I was going to get some eventually so why not start now?

We had dinner in the buffet place. I also managed to get to try some fresh shrimp as usually greedy Canadians would take it all. Wasn’t to fussed – it was mostly shell!

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