Arriving in Cuba
Position: Atlantic Ocean
Nautical Position: 22°07.6`N 80°27.3 `W
Etmal: 8490 NM
Ship: Pelican of London
Land in sight!
This morning started with the usual daily routine. We got up to have some breakfast and some of us had to do watch. The mood on board was great, because while the sunlight became stronger, we were finally able to see our next destination – Cuba. I guess I speak for all of us when I say that we were very excited to see this special country. In our last few history lessons, we all heard a lot about the “Cuban Missile Crisis” and learned a lot about the outcome and the influences of it.
Therefore, the excitement was almost tangible when we anchored in front of this unique island.
Welcome to Cienfuegos
Before we were able to go ashore and explore Cienfuegos, we all had to make sure our cabins were clean and tidy. That was because the Cuban immigration officers wanted to check the whole ship to search for prohibited items like drugs or guns. Fortunately, the process was much easier and faster than expected. Mostly thanks to our spanish-speaking, Second Officer Gonzo.
After the ship was inspected, we were brought ashore in groups to check in at the immigration office. Luckily, the procedure was relatively fast and after lunch we were finally able to go ashore.
Classic Car Heaven
And here is my first impression about Cuba: The most important thing for me are the cars. Thank God, we saw many cool looking classic cars on our way through the city. Teacher Simon explained us, that that is the outcome of the economic quarantine by the US from the late 1950s. Because of the trade embargo brought up by the USA, Cuban people could not import new cars, so they repaired their old American street-cruisers over and over again.
There are also many russian cars and Tuk-tuks to be found. Tuk-tuks here in Cienfuegos are very cheap. So, it is a good possibility to get from the Marina to the City center.
The city is influenced by very old and colorful buildings. But it´s easy to tell which houses are owned by the government and which aren’t. So, some of them were very beautiful and it’s clear they’ve been taken care of. Others were kind of ugly and shabby.
Supermarkets in Cuba
The supermarkets were a totally unique experience. They were a lot different than the stores in Europe. The variety of products was quite disappointing and some of us were reminded of supermarkets in the old GDR. There was nothing to be found except for rice, beans and tins. Nothing fresh or compostable.
Another problem was the payment. In all other caribbean countries, we were able to pay with US-Dollar. Here in Cuba that’s not imaginable. Triggered by the complicated history between Cuba and the US, you don’t make many friends, asking if it’s possible to pay with dollars. Therefore, there was a long line of Pelicanos in front of the ATMs because everybody wanted to get some of the local currency.
Nevertheless, we had a great first day in Cuba and made many new experiences. Furthermore, we learned for one more time how easy and comfortable our lives in Germany/Austria/Ireland are and how lucky and thankful we can be for all the opportunities given to us. I am convinced that we will have two more remarkable days here in Cuba, and that this is something we will hardly forget.
Franzi M.: Ich grüß Dich, Ella mein Schatzi!!!