Another Day in Paradise

Cayo Largo has a very welcoming marina. The staff has a lot of pride in developing their tourist business. They do not get much if any investment from the government so like everywhere else in Cuba they have to make do. Last night we went to bed with the intention to fuel up and sail half way to Jamaica. We had so much fun last night at dinner and meeting the local people we decided to stay one more day and sail the 383 miles to Jamaica in one leg. On Thursday night I visited the harbormaster Gabino Cid.

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I happened to stop by his office to inquire where I could buy a WIFI card. He said the office that sells the WIFI cards closed 10 minutes ago at 8:00 pm but would I be willing to join him for a Cuba Libre. He introduced me to Raymond the airport manager. We chatted about his life. He has a passport from Spain as well as Cuba so he has traveled outside Cuba. He had visited Chicago a few years ago. He went to Brazil to start a business and lost all his money. Now at age 44 he is starting all over again. His family lives in Havana. He has two children, a boy 13 a girl 15. He works 20 days and then goes to Havana for 10 days. He earns $24 per month just like everyone else in Cuba. Gabe gave him a tip for helping tie up the boat and I gave him a can of shaving cream, a baseball for his son and a five pack of chewing gum for his daughter. A can of shaving cream costs $5.50 in Cuba. That is a weeks pay so it is real luxury.

We had dinner at the marina tiki bar. Two rounds of cocktails and four dinners cost a total of $40. It is nice to be away from Havana prices. In the afternoon we tried to rent a taxi or van to take us around the island for sight-seeing. There were no taxis available so we rented a full size tour bus and driver for $40.

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We visited several all inclusive hotels. The advantage of an all inclusive hotel is you can walk up to the bar and order a drink and walk away. It is all inclusive. The bar tender cannot accept cash. We also visited an iguana and crocodile farm.

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One of Cayo Largo’s most infamous residents was an American who was number one on the FBI’s most wanted list. Robert Lee (Bobby) Vesco the fugitive financier built a house in Cayo Largo and lived here with his family. He started a few joint ventures with Fidel Castro and had another house in Havana. Unfortunately Bobby tried to swindle Fidel and ended up dying in a Cuban jail. His house was converted into a very nice hotel and is still called the American House.

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Bobby Vesco

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We were invited to visit the crew onboard the Beneteau 57 Luna Azul (Blue Moon). Paulo the owner is from Italy and is cruising with his girlfriend Danielle. Danielle is from an Italian family from Venezuela. Paulo’s former business partner in the oil business Les is from Denmark. Les is onboard for one month and said no one else wanted to do the crossing to Jamaica. They have sailed their boat in the Mediterranean and then sailed to the Canary Islands and then to the Caribbean. It was a 16 day crossing of the Atlantic. Paulo said if there are no storms it is the most boring 16 days of your life. They had discussed sailing around the world but have currently decided to just cruise the Caribbean for a few years.

Les, Paulo and Danielle

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One of our blog readers Bill Nordeen has a strong connection to Cuba. Bill provided the following comments. “My brother’s name was Jack. He was an officer in the rebel army and part of Fidel’s inner circle, lived in the Presidential Palace after the revolution. The first issue of Life Magazine in 1959 has a picture of him from when he first joined the rebel army. I believe he rode into Havana on the right front fender of Castro’s jeep, but really don’t know for sure. If you google him and go far enough you’ll find a picture of him with William Morgan(ex U.S. Military and the strategic mastermind of the revolution, he was later executed by Fidel), a very young Bob Brown, founder of Soldier of Fortune magazine, two unnamed Cubans and Jack atop some Havana hotel. All except Bob Brown are well armed. Jack became disillusioned with Castro and I recently found an FBI memo that states he was attempting to form a 700 man Army to invade Cuba. It didn’t happen.”

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