(unless otherwise credited, all photos were stolen from my sister, dad and step-mom)
One day in Cuba, we met a man on the beach who we paid to take us away from the resort.
The weather was supposed to be kind of chilly-ish and this guy told us he knew somewhere nicer he could take us where we could go snorkeling. We agreed to meet him on a street corner the next morning and go across the island.
The next day him and his son showed up at our meeting place at the agreed upon time in two rental cars, we got in, and went to Cardenas, their home town.
We were there to pick up snorkel gear from their house...and then they started making phone calls and doing something under the hood of one of the cars, and then both of them got underneath the jeep we were riding in.
Were we having car trouble? Getting set up for something? No. They were disconnecting the odometers so the rental place wouldn't charge them 35 cents per kilometer to drive us around. Smart/illegal!
We drove for around an hour and a half across the island, stopping midway for a beer and pee break.
Then we were at the Bay of Pigs. And we swam there.The son came in the water with us, and the dad stayed behind and watched our stuff, because there was another group of scuba divers nearby.
I have to tell you guys, I am terrified of swimming in the ocean, especially deep water. You just don't know what's around you, and there's just too much space. I don't know...anyway I was kind of nervous. Even with these really super cool life jackets and everything.
We started swimming around and just as I was calming down, what did I practically run face first into? An entire cloud of jelly fish! NOOOO.
Image from here.
They were little white ones like this, maybe palm-sized or a bit larger, and there were a lot of them. I put my head out of the water, my step mom was nearby and this was our exact conversation:
"I think I see jellyfish"
"Let's get outta here!"
We swam hard and fast until we couldn't see them anymore. Once in a while one would suddenly appear in front of me and I'd just yell into my snorkel tube and flail around until I got away from it, but they were few and far between after the initial cloud. Later we found out they were harmless; it's only the ones with the hangy tentacle things that can sting you, but we didn't know!
My sister brought an underwater camera...best thing ever. We swam around and saw pretty much any type of coral we had ever heard of, and beautiful fish, and clear clear water everywhere. Oh, and a sunken ship. Serious.
After like half an hour or forty five minutes everybody started running into too many jellyfish and panicking, so one by one we got out of the water. The guides packed us all up into the cars and we drove around ten minutes to our next destination. A cenote at Playa Giron, I think.
A cenote is an underwater cave. From above, it looks like a tiny little pond with some little fishies in it.
But get this: it's 80 fucking meters deep. Okay now swim in it about a black hole full of who knows what because it connects to the ocean somewhere down there. TERRIFYING. I was so scared that my teeth were chattering, but I played it as cool as I could and just swam around looking at the dark murky depths through my mask and sticking close to the edges where I could see some stuff, and thinking of the tv show Surface and trying not to totally panic. Here are a few photos taken in and around the cenote.
After the cenote we went back into the ocean and looked at more pretty coral and were surrounded by a school of really pretty striped fish in water barely deeper than our waists.
Then, our lovely guides drove us to their friend's house. She cooked us a crazy delicious dinner. She made lobster and ceviche for the meat eaters and I had all kinds of rice, salad and plantains. It was so good! There was even fresh-squeezed pineapple juice.
Here's their Christmas tree!
And the scenery around their house.
It was an amazing day. By the time our guides got us back to the hotel it was night time. We paid them for our day and made plans for them to pick us up the next morning at the same spot, so they could take us to Havana! More on that later.
For now, here's a picture of me rocking out underwater. WOO!