Sandra's home, good coffee and a new friend.
Sandra's children, Puerto Esparanza
The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Part 6: If you make plans, don't tell anyone
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Yesterday, Monday December 6th at Cayo Levisa, the boys from Sundancer asked me to go diving with them. Their dink is slow and they had not explored the reef as we had. The weather was much warmer and the snorkeling superb. There was lots of staghorn coral, reef fish, a huge moray eel, and the biggest damn Manatee (sea cow of mermaid legend) I ever saw. The manatee was just laying on sandy bottom about 25 feet deep. She let me get to within about 10 feet of her before becoming wary and then moved away more quickly than one might have expected possible. Not frightened, just annoyed at being disturbed I guess.
The boys (they are all in their 40s, but like boys) made a deep dive to 150 feet off the edge of the reef while I was pleased as punch just snorkeling within my free diving depth range up to around 35 or 40 feet. Joan and I don't care to tank dive much anymore, it's just too much work. Between all of us, we saw no lobster, but had a good time anyway. After the diving, they insisted that I accompany them to the hotel for a drink or three. Big mistake, I didn't get back to the boat (sober enough) until a little before dark and Joan was ready to kill. I was promptly grounded for a month and sent to my room. Just can't seem to get the boy out of the man, even at 60.
This morning, the Guarda motor boat pulled up along side at the appointed hour of 8 o'clock and checked us out. The weather warm, the winds calm, and not a ripple on the water. We made the short hop westward to Puerto Esparanza and pulled in close to check in with the Guarda. A dozen or so ancient, mostly wooden, fishing boats were scattered at anchor. In about 20 minutes, a row boat pulled up beside us and three Coast Guardsmen boarded with the now familiar check in procedure. While they were pleasant, it was clear that they were not used to visitors such as we and were nervously suspicious of our motives for putting in here. The Guarda tower overlooks the harbor, is continuously manned and has a large telescope.
Before we left Lavisa, one of the Guarda men suggested we meet up with and dine at the home of one of his kin at Esparanza. With the mere mention of this to the Guarda at Esparanza, a woman, Sandra, met us at the gate and escorted us to her home. We had a very nice dinner and then she took us on a walking tour of the town. In her words, the pueblo is tranquil. Everyone was out browsing the streets and we (mostly Maggie) were the main attraction. Later, hostess Sandra, asked that we stop in around 5 PM for cafe'.
Just as promised, at 5, Sandra served some really good Cuban cafe con leche (strong coffee with hot milk, about 50 /50). If you haven't tried it, it is a wonderful way to have coffee. Joan gave her a cotton dress, some lipstick, nail polish and candy bars. Sandra was so happy I thought she was going to cry.
While having our coffee and conversing in pigeon Spanish and a lot of body motion, a large and beautiful lime green sucker footed tree frog jumped off of the wall, over my head, and onto the middle of the table. Marge's eyes got as round as saucers. We all had a good laugh, but Sandra was embarrassed.
Remember all those plans of five stops before leaving Cuba? The Guarda informed us that some of our proposed stops were military reservations where we could not go. The next place open to us is Puerto Santa Lucia, about 15 miles hence.
By the way, we finally saw lobstermen. From what I could see they use a ¼ mi. long net-like device towed at both ends to herd the lobster over flat bottom and turtle grass. Divers are stationed every hundred feet or so along the net and when the herded bugs get tired enough, they just pick them up. Pretty darn efficient and its no wonder they are hard to find elsewhere.
Joan, Ben, Marge, Marv & Maggie