About flamingos, flying fishes, food poisoning, and how we didn’t see crocodiles.
Charles Dickens once wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and those worse times started for us around 2 am. One thing you have to know, my husband is not the one getting stomach problems during our travels. It takes a huge amount of bacteria, viruses and parasites, and tons of toxins to cause any symptoms of food poisoning by him. And that is probably what the sauce from the lobster he took last day contained (we both had the same food, apart from the sauce, and I was still fine). The night was a huge challenge for him, but in the morning it got a little bit better and we decided we follow our plan:
- Day 1: visit Ciénaga de Zapata and see flamingos at Laguna de las Salinas;
- Day 2: diving in the morning at Playa Girón and visiting crocodile’s farm.
We pack our things to move them to Casa Kiki, which is next door, and then we are going to watch flamingos at Laguna de las Salinas. A so called taxi is in reality a yellow American car that was produced in the Stone Age. We are pretty much sure that after our trip to Cuba the word “taxi” will mean something totally different for us 😀 After our drive to Playa Larga we are already used to the Cuban meaning of taxi, so this one does not surprise us much more. It is of course in much worse condition than our previous “taxi.” But come on, let’s give Cuban cars a break! After years of embargo and receiving used crap from USSR, it is a miracle that anything drives here at all. So instead of complaining, let’s smell diesel with a smile, cover ourselves with plastic bags when the doors and windows don’t close, and enjoy the ride. We are taking part in history and becoming a part of a legend ourselves. Few more years and all those Stone Age Sweethearts will be gone and we will only read about them with nostalgia… For real….
Laguna de las Salinas and pink flamingos
We are total jungle freaks. We love it, we dream about it, and we look for it everywhere we go. We even introduced Sydney Possuelo and Ed Stafford to our daughter as her uncles. So whenever we enter any National Park, we hope to get at least a tiny reminder of a jungle. But the forest on the way to Laguna de las Salinas is nothing like that. You don’t see any plants characteristic for more jungle like forests, instead – some grey trees. Well it’s a swamp at the end and we are here to see flamingos. But before we could see even one bird, we are introduced to Mosquitos (you’ll soon understand why I write it with a capital letter). To be precise: millions of them. I come from a region of Poland that is close to the Białowieża Forest, so mosquitos are nothing new for me; we have tons of them, and they are bigger than cows, but I was still not prepared for what we approached in the National Park. They were huge, super aggressive, and there was no air just Mosquitos around! We had known before that there are many mosquitos in Ciénaga de Zapata, so we took strong mosquito repellents and clothes with long sleeves, but there is nothing that can protect you from those beasts. Being in a car didn’t help as well, as with all the holes in the windows and doors, Mosquitos get inside anyway. The only thing you can do, is to open all windows, so they are blown away by the wind.
There are really many bird species in Laguna de las Salinas: pelicans, black cormorants and of course pink flamingos – the reason why we in the first place wanted to come here. And although flamingos were further away from us than we imagined, watching all the birds was really a huge pleasure and an adventure. Never before had we seen so many for us exotic birds at once in their natural environment. Zosia was thrilled as well and was showing how flamingos are flying. And till today if you show her a book with birds and ask her “which one is a flamingo?”, she will show you the right one 🙂 (One more argument to add to the discussion how “small kids do not perceive and remember anything from travelling” 😉 ) The trip was not too long, thank God, coz we had no skin left just signs of the Mosquitos attacks. But screw mosquitos, we saw FLAMINGOS!
About food poison and Cuban medical system
It was a very hot day, so after coming back and eating lunch at Casa Kiki, we went to sleep. Only to be woken up by severe stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea; and everything at the same time, to make it more charming. That is how the next 6 hours looked for us. Dario basically not leaving the bathroom and me running between bathroom and room, so I could constantly breastfeed our daughter. I thought that the more I pump my milk into her, the less possible it is that she gets food poison too. We didn’t know how Cuban medical system in reality looks like. I only read some horror stories by one Polish family, whose two kids landed in a Cuban hospital dehydrated. So believe me, the only thing I could think of doing was coming back to the nature and praying for the breastmilk to make miracles. There may be many other reasons, but at the end our daughter didn’t get any symptoms.
After six hours of our romance with the bathroom, Dario goes with Kiki to the local clinic and I stay in our room with sleeping Zosia. There has to be some kind on the ants’ highway going through our beds, because ants are all over Zosia’s face. I try to find some place without any insects crawling around. For the next hour I am running between the bathroom and ants’ highway, and making sure that I manage to get out from the room all mosquitos and a stupid lizard from the ceiling. I hit the rock bottom. I’m falling into despair. I try not to think about anything. Just be. All bad things will come to an end, eventually.
(Dario, write your part about the hospital 😛 Let’s see when he notices this comment :D)
We lose like half of our weight after this night and close to dawn, then our stomachs finally calm down, there is nothing we would like to do more than sleep. But our daughter wakes up and her day starts now. We get dressed and go outside to see an amazing spectacle of the sunrise at the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). We see flying fish, palms in fog, and an unbelievable surface of the water. From far away we can hear flamingos. We already know that for this day we will have to cancel all our plans and we will not be able to see crocodiles, but somehow we feel like survivors. We survived the worst that happened to us in Cuba, and still we are extremely happy to be here. From now on, whenever someone asks us what will we do if we get sick during travels, we simply answer: survive and then watch flying fish.
It’s time to say goodbye to Playa Larga. You’ve been quite a pain in the ass for us (not just a metaphor this time 😉 ), you sneaky pretending to be heaven on earth Cuban beach. But I guess, that’s the price we had to pay for your beauty 🙂 Time to hit the road again.
On the way, from the bus window we see the museum of Cuban victory over Americans in Playa Giron. Good we are not famous, coz a museum of our defeat in Bay of Pigs, wouldn’t be that pretty…
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