Cuba Day Four - Catamaran
It's all good. Wayne and Karoline had been right. The Starfish was the second last stop and we were at the marina in no time. Us, five other buses and over 200 people. We lined up on the pier and streamed into waiting catamarans. I am sure someone counted but I remember that there must been seven to nine in the fleet. When one catamaran was full the line moved to the next one and we ended up on the 'Cetus.' (Mental note: look up what that means.)
- In Ancient Greek, the word kētos (κῆτος, plural kētē or kētea, κήτη or κήτεα) - Latinized as cetus denotes a large fish, a whale, a shark, or a sea monster. The sea monsters slain by Perseus and Heracles were each referred to as a cetus by ancient sources. Also, the term cetacean (for whale) originates from cetus - Now we know!
It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and calm water that had many shades of blue and green depending on the depth of the water and the underwater vegetation. Rori went right to the front of the boat and sat on the netting that is stretched between the two pontoons. The main guide called us together before we started and gave instructions in English, French, Spanish, Russian and another language. The English explanations were too brief to know what he was talking about and the other languages couldn't have been very good because people were looking at each there shrugging their shoulders. At the end of his announcements he said, 'Open bar' and everyone cheered.
We had been on a catamaran for a short snorkeling excursion on a previous trip to Cuba. That vessel had been small, old, stinky, in need of repairs and the boat and the crew could have benefitted from a good washing. They smelt like the boat. They sold warm beer from a cooler that had no extra room for ice. The toilet was a five gallon pail down a short ladder. This was not that boat. This was clean (and so were the crew) in top repair, fast and comfortable. Did I mentioned that they had an open bar? - with cold beer?
My favourite part of the video I took on the catamaran is the last five minutes or so when the captain gets everyone up and dancing! ......
I will have to look the area up on a map because it seemed like we were surrounded by land much of the trip. There was only a short time when you couldn't see shore for most of the horizon and at those times I had pleasant flashbacks to when we were on the Caribbean cruise with Hazel and had watched the Cuban coastline at a distance. Turns out to be about 30 km one way. A lot of the land that I had seen was when we passed through the island Cayo Blanco is on. We went quite slowly through the shallow waters and it seemed to take much longer.
|This was the route we took. I thought we had stayed much closer to land.|
We were all handed clean masks and snorkels and got in the water to swim with the fishes around the back of the boat. It took a little getting used to the mechanics of it all but it wasn't long before we were all watching the cabbage like plants on the bottom, black fish with neon blue outlines and trying to touch the school of large spiky tailed silver fish that coasted around just inches under the surface. One moment there would be nothing and the next I was in the middle of a large school of silver fish that zigged and zagged randomly.
|Being in the middle of a school of fish was such a marvel. I had seen fish like this at Ripley's but it is so different being in their environment.|
Back on the boat and sailing through shallow water Brenda tapped me on the shoulder, 'Look!' There was a large swirling cloud of grey and black smoke hovering over the water's surface about 1,000 yards ahead and to the right of us. It totally surreal and fascinating because it seemed so out of context. As we got closer we could tell that it was a stinky old boat with a bad diesel engine but for a moment it had me wondering.
Our next stop was Cayo Blanca. It felt much like Half Moon Cay to us. It was a beautiful beach at a random location in the middle of nowhere. We docked on a long pier as the other catamarans circled out and anchored a safe distance away. We followed the pier to the enormous buffet and dining area. The buffet was part of the all inclusive package that had a 'feel' of its own. It was a long wide boardwalk filled with picnic style tables covered by an open roof and no walls. The ocean and beach was on one side and a tropical forest pressed up to the platform on the other side.
We were surprised to be offered lobster along with a wide variety of other foods, all well done. Later, in the ocean we saw and chased many skinny little fish that were almost a foot long and a half inch in girth. Brenda figures they were the barracuda we were warned about. ("Don't worry about sharks, it's the barracuda that you have to keep away from.") We could see them from the walkway to the boat.
At one point while we were swimming I saw one near the shore and followed it around for a while. It didn't swim very well and I was thinking that it must be easy prey for the hundreds of sea birds that were begging for food from the buffet. Turns out that these were needlefish
The next destination actually startled me as we came up on it. We were moving slowly through a large bay that was surrounded by forested shores. It the middle of the bay was a low concrete. large. square concrete structure. It seemed very out of place. It had the feel of something that one might see in a Star Wars movies when visiting an alien world. The concrete walls stood twenty feet out of the water surrounding an area 40 meters by 80 meters. It looked like a small fortress in the middle of the water with only one landing platform where we docked. It was a short walk along a metal and concrete path that lead up to the structure where we walked along the tops of the walls. Inside the high concrete walls was - water. The big rectangle two 40 by 40 tanks. This is not what I had imagined as the dolphin ranch. I had been ready for an inland pond or small lake surrounding by beaches and palm trees. What a contrast.
Our group was divided in to two and we went to the near side and the other went to the far side on the first tank. People who wanted to meet the dolphins climbed down a twenty foot staircase to a narrow concrete platform that was submerged knee deep in the water. From a higher platform the trainer told the people what to expect and whistled, or more precisely, chirped to notify the dolphins that a new set of humans was here to be processed. The trainer introduced Mara and Oscar and ran through a short but well rehearsed routine that obviously won over the humans participating. I stood at the top of the tank wall and made a video of the whole spectacle. I think it went rather well. Especially when we followed Wayne and Karoline's advices and paid a little extra for 'an experience you won't forget,' for Brenda had the savvy to approach the one female trainer and ask her to give extra time to Heather and Rori. This trainer was very understanding were the guys might not have been. It any case it was awesome. Just watch the videos...
The next stop was home base where we would catch the bus home. Everyone was in good spirits but a little tired and sunburnt. Brenda made friends with a lady from Montreal and Rori drew our attention to a song that was blasting out on the boat. The chorus seemed to sound like, 'its sucking on my toes.' and we all found that funny. We thought that we were just mishearing the Spanish lyrics but back home we checked it out and was is a real song. Who knew? --- Suck Yo Toes (After posting this blog Brenda doesn't felt that this was the song we actually heard. If you come across a Spanish song with words in the chorus that sounds like, 'Sucking on my toes,' that's the song. let me know.)
Just before landing the boat guy had everyone dancing, clapping and laughing and it was great fun, as you can see in the video.
Back at the resort everyone was sunburnt, tired and needed a shower to get the salt off them. Everyone except Rori, so the two of us went down to the pool where she gave a great performance. I had stepped out for a moment to get a sandwich from the buffet and she rehearsed an eight part water ballet. It was impressive. Then we spent the next hour playing an amusing game. I would chose a character and Rori would do an aquatic impressions of that character.
The range of topics went from lobsters, shrimp, sardines, lions, wombats, shooting stars, to people we know like Ray, Mom and Grandma. She was quick, sharp, insightful and thoroughly entertaining.
One of my favs was the way she could get right into 'The Celebrity.'
Later, at the super buffet, an older Cuban waiter kept blowing kisses at Rori every time he walked by.
As Rori was walking down the large buffet hall a Cuban dancer put his arm around her an asked if she was coming to see him dance for her. Well, of course she will.
The show is at 9pm. That's just about the time the photographer from the Dolphin Ranch will be at the resort to show Heather pictures he took earlier. It has been an long, busy day with an early start and Heather has just gone to get an espresso, with coffee liquor, to be able to stay awake and go to this show.