SEA Currents: cuba
Snapshots of Cuba
What an eye-opening, colorful, vibrant few days we have had exploring Santiago de Cuba. Yesterday evening, I spent several hours on anchor watch, staring out at the full moon rising over the Sierra Maestra Mountains that surround the city. My mind was full of the smells, sounds, images, and interactions of the day and I found myself reflecting on just how fortunate we are to have spent time in Cuba.
This morning, both students and crew were dragged out of bed for what felt like an even earlier wakeup than usual (thanks a lot daylight savings time) in order to head out for our second day of adventures in Santiago de Cuba.
Many of us stayed out later than usual last night since liberty didn’t expire until 0000 (although I was snug in my bunk well before that), but despite being sleep deprived, we were all eager for another day in this strange, intriguing place.
Bienvenidos a Cuba
“Bienvenidos a Cuba,” - Welcome to Cuba - says a man in olive green as he searches my bunk. “Bienvenidos a Cuba,” says a man in a red-starred hat as he searches my backpack and pockets. I’m wearing my best shirt for the arrival in Cuba. We all are. Polo shirts and modest skirts are pulled from bags as the few articles of clothing that don’t smell like sweaty sailors. We’re also all on our best behavior as we welcome a myriad of officials onto our boat, being quite unsure of our relation with this country and it’s citizens.
Life in a Polygon
Historical sites visited, Salsa danced, and cigars smoked. I’d say C-264 did Cuba the right way. Since we have plenty of science to do and navigational techniques to master, we are not sailing directly to Jamaica, we are working our way through an area of the ocean that coincidentally forms a polygon on the chart.
Well, today started with some more exploration time for all of us in Cuba to hopefully find some more information about our projects. Emma, Aiden, Sophia, Taylor and I wandered the streets of Cuba in search for some local art stores that we were told about and it was followed by a success. We found some beautiful pieces of work that showed some meaningful aspects of life in Cuba but also the beauty the artistry found in this country.
Cuba on the Cusp of Greater Participation in the Global Economy
There was a great deal of excitement aboard the Corwith Cramer among student crew and professional crew alike as we drew near our port stop in Santiago de Cuba. In our resources on board, Santiago was highlighted as the first capital of Cuba, a significant fortified port in the era of Spanish flotillas working their way from the mineral rich Spanish colonies in Central and South America back to the Iberian Peninsula and then as the cradle of revolutionary activities from the latter part of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century.
¡Bienvenidos a Cuba!
Hola from Santiago de Cuba! How many people can say a pod of dolphins brought our sailboat into Cuba?! When exploring, we discovered that we are definitely the only Americans here, which makes it feel like a truly unique experience. The welcoming attitude of Cubans in Santiago for American’s is more than I expected. Once Cubans found out we are from Los Estados Unidos, they would say “We love Americans! We love Obama!” Also, we learned that President Obama is making a visit here in two weeks—just missed him!
Catch of the Day
Today was our first day of exploration in Santiago de Cuba, a day that undoubtedly left us with a wealth of knowledge in a country that is relatively unknown to American students. During our tour of the city, we explored areas that were meaningful to Cuba’s multiple wars for independence, including El Morro fort at the entrance to Santiago Bay. Our tour even included a lunch overlooking El Morro and the Caribbean Sea that featured a delicious meal and ice cream, or helado, for desert.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Our arrival in Cuba is marked with the salute of a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins passing freely beneath the Cramer between the port and starboard quarters. Our furling of the mainsail in preparation for our next port call is briefly interrupted by this informal welcome. As we motor into the Santiago canal, we are met by a mandatory coastal pilot who, upon arriving, graciously accepted our hospitality and a few gifts.
SEA Semester Invites Students for Voyage to Cuba & Caribbean
Surely you’ve read the latest news about changes in the complex relationship between the United States and Cuba. But did you know that we’ve been working during the past few months to offer future SEA Semester students the chance to return to this fascinating destination?
Pending government approval, students enrolled in SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean for winter/spring term 2016 will make a port stop in Santiago de Cuba. The visit will be part of this broader comparative studies program, which gives students of all majors the chance to deepen their knowledge of cultural and environmental sustainability issues throughout the Caribbean.
There’s still space and financial aid available for this exciting program. Applications are due November 1.