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Published: January 13th 2010
end of the earth
not too much at maria la gorda, and that's a good thing
Maria la Gorda loosely translates to Fat Mary. Hmmm. Well, I guess me in a bikini won't be a such a big deal then. Apparently, Maria la Gorda is isolated. Isolated! Try drop-off-the-end-of-the-earth isolated! But that's a good thing.
Our group is crammed into a tiny van for several hours, stopping only in Pinar del Rio for a pee, and to stock up on quintessential supplies (booze and chips). Upon arrival, a long stretch of pristine white beach greets us, fringed with palms, a couple of small buildings and a dive shop. That's it. That's Maria La Gorda. I can remember Mexico looking exactly like this about 30 years ago. Gigantic conch shells litter the beach, crabs scuttle around, it's all clean and crisp and fresh.
This place was named after the legend of a Venezuelan woman, who had been abducted by pirates and abandoned on this beautiful eight mile stretch of white sand. So, to survive, she offered up nooky in exchange for food to any passerby ships. Judging from the name, I'm guessing she didn't starve. lol
Pretty much nothing else to do around here but get your beach on. No problemo. My whole group was
stairway to nowhere
cool water breaks made the ocean water like a bathtub
ready for down time anyway. I dug out books I hadn't cracked yet, donned my IPOD, and sequestered a lawn chair to prepare for some very serious nothing.
Right about then, a storm rolled in. So it poured rain on and off for the next three days, but we didn't care. You can see by the pictures that it was spectacular nonetheless. We managed to sun ourselves between the rain showers, and swim in the bathtub warm ocean - even if the sideways rain blinded us. Who needs a stinking tan anyway?
Unfortunately, we also get a taste of what the all-inclusive resort life in Cuba is like for the first time.
Now I understand why people who stay in those fancy resorts in Varadero or Holguin said resort food is horrible, the resort staff lazy, and the resort buildings run down. Ugh. Cuba hasn't quite figured out their potential zillion dollar tourist-slash-hospitality industry yet, that's for sure! Ah, no great loss, my trip across the country so far has been beyond spectacular, so this really isn't a biggy. Besides, I know how to chillax.
Our evenings in Maria La Gorda consisted of doing nothing more
storms a comin
still beautiful even if you can't tan.
than trying to decide which of the two places to eat. The horrible buffet? Or the horrible restaurant? They actually put carrots and cabbage on our pizza because they ran out of green peppers and tomatoes. Oh yes they did. We'd spend the rest of the night drinking rum with all the other resort dwellers. A strange group of mostly Europeans - with the odd Canadian thrown in for good luck. We had riveting games of checkers while waiting out the rains, and played with the cats. It rains and rains. Raining cats? Oh. Yes. There are probably four thousand ferral cats hanging out with us, begging for food. They like cabbage and carrot pizza. The staff do not tolerate them, and I witnessed a few being flung several times. Thank God they can land on their feet. Oh, and I actually watched TV for the first time in three weeks. Nicole Kidman was in a Witch and the Wardrobe type movie with talking polar bears. I fall asleep effortlessly to the sounds of surf crashing the shore.
To give you an idea of how boring and quiet it is here in Maria La Gorda, the only action was
last day in paradise
having a drink between rain showers and watching the sun set tragically into the ocean. So lindo
witnessing the misfortune of a German lady who wiped out on the slick tiles, her leg now a gory 90 degree angle at the knee. Yuck. I provided on-scene until a pronounced Doctor leisurely came by for a look. Note to self, do not run on tiles when caught in sudden rain downpour. It took five hours for the ambulance to come and collect her. Poor thing didn't speak Spanish or English and was on her own. Vacation so over
Diving is the prime activity out here in Maria La Gorda. UNESCO has put dibs on the pristine black coral reefs off shore. One afternoon, I decided to tag along with a dive group for a quickie snorkel to see for myself. Even though it was sunny - the surf was strong, and the snarly Capitan turfed us out into the open ocean without blinking an eye.
I watched at surface while the dive crew descended to about thirty feet along a beautiful shelf abyss. They molested huge lobsters and poked at sea urchins. For me, there were plenty of beautiful fish and surface coral to look at, but I did notice that the surf was becoming increasingly
and when the sun comes out it is hot and perfect
severe, so I paddled back to the boat that was now disappearing behind 20 foot swells.
Trying to get back on the boat becomes an engineering feat. At one point I flung my flippers at the Capitan in a sorta quiet protest, but I did manage to hoist myself back on, the dive crew with all their equipment had a harder time of it. ...And a few people were looking a little greenish on the way back in, let me tell you. But no one spewed.
Then came the docking circus. Have you ever been flung? This was pretty much what was happening, timing a swell and being flung trapeze style (minus the wires) towards the cement jetty, all you can think is: don't pancake the cement dock, don't pancake the cement dock. But we all survived. Remember kids, ambulances are at least five hours away.
After three days of Maria La Gorda do nothing bliss we are happily packed up and crammed once again into a van, for the extremely long trip back to Havana.
Via con dias Fat Maria!
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