Cuba - Los Jardines de La Reina
Cuba is a trip! As soon as one starts talking about Cuba one runs into the paradox within a conundrum within an inconsistency within an irrationaliy that defines Cuban-American relations. Yes, it is illegal for an american to visit Cuba. No, it is NOT illegal (under easily satisfied conditions) for an american to visit Cuba. The president stresses the embargo and travel ban. The US congress votes to lift both and authorizes massive grain sales. Confused?
Fishing aside, Cuba is the most unique, most fascinating travel destination in the western hemisphere, a fact that has not been lost on Canadians and Europeans. There is simply nothing like it, anywhere. One could spend a great deal of time exploring all that Cuba has to offer, but fishing was the impetus of this trip.
Los Jardines de la Reina is a 110 mile chain of thousands of mangrove keys and a few small islands that extends about forty miles offshore west from the southeastern corner of Cuba, much like the Keys do from Florida. There is not a single permanent building. The entire chain is off limits to all but lobster fishing and is leased to the Italian operation we booked with for sport fishing purposes only. It has since been made into a Cuban national park, sport fishing allowed. With the exception of a couple of lobster boats, we had the whole 110 miles all to ourselves, 8 fishermen in our party on the 80 foot Halcon, and 14 in the more permanently anchored lodge/barge Tortuga. Pristine? Imagine the Keys 300 years ago.
Getting there was a huge hassle (since massively simplified), three days of travel to Cancun, flight and overnight (4 hours!) in a Habana hotel, bus ride to another airport, Russian turbo prop to Ciego de Avila International Airport in southeastern Cuba, bus ride to Jucaro, where, exhausted and dejected, we were greeted by the crew of the Halcon and a drink, ropes were cast off, and, moving on the water on the boat that would be our home, living with the crew for the entire week, it all suddenly made sense.

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