Santiago (Cuba)

19° 59 N 075° 52 W

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06 February 2001 - 07 February 2001

We tied Med moor to the dock. Now, this place takes you back to the old saying, "different strokes for different folk". There is a small park area just outside the marina. The slides are smooth cement and very slippery. The swings are in the sun and made out of metal. I think I had the shortest swing in my life, I sat down and shot up straight away because of the heat of the metal.

Just outside the gates, is an avenue, the trees there are filled with seed pods and their rackety chorus greets you as you stroll by. At the end of a T-junction, is a little path going through the trees. I followed this path not knowing where it would lead me. The thick bush I was walking or should I say climbing through, grew less dense. Infront of me was a memorial with a grass patch scattered with frangipani and many more tropical flowers. The fence around the cliff consisted of vertical bars spaced 2 meters apart and two horizontal bars joining the two vertical bars together. The horizontal bars are at the top and in the middle. Where bouganvillas are not invading the fence, I slipped between the two bars. The memorial is roughly the shape of a circle looking from the air. At the far side of the memorial, there are steps leading down to the main road. At the end of the steps, blocking the way were two brown cows, a huge black bull and a little way off, a calf which I mistook for being an overgrown Dalmation. Right at the corner is a valley filled with old Spanish houses which really takes you back in time.

The castle, or Morro de Santiago guards the entrance of the bay. It was past here that the Spanish fleet sailed to their massacre in the late 1800's fighting a war that was started by a newspaper tycoon Randolph Hearst, and his friend, the US President McKinley. The USS MAINE had been sunk in Havana by a mysterious explosion. It was the excuse for expansionism and reputation building and it was low risk, the modern American fleet easily outgunned the Spanish. The score sheet at the end of 3rd July 1898 was Spanish dead=474 US=2 injuries.

We arrived in Santiago after a pleasant overnight sail. We were nearly rammed by this boat, and had to slam Gilana into full astern to avoid them, seconds seemed like minutes before they re-appeared on the other side.

An abandoned country club, is shadowed by an abandoned home, in an abandoned neighbourhood. All over Cuba we felt this same sorrow at the passing of better times. This cities first mayor was Hernando Cortez, and it was founded in 1514.

Liz met this little guy, who made his own cart, with steering. The wheels were bearings. Note how dirty his feet are, ours looked the same, it is caused bu soot fallout form a nearby factory.

You can see there was once money here. Look clsely though and you can see the decay, rust, no grass, it must have been wonderful in its heyday. All over where we went we had this haunting feeling of time lapsed lives.

Here I am looking out to sea, past the boats at the marina, I did not want to stay here long, only to complete the formalities of leaving the country. The Windward passage and Bahamas lay ahead (Or so we thought)

This is the view I was seeing in the previous picture.

This factory is responsible for the sooty fallout that covered everything and caused one to wake up coughing in the middle of the night.