Isla de la Juventud

Feb 14, 2018 - Harmony V

This morning we woke up at anchor off the second largest island of the Cuban archipelago, the Isla de la Juventud ("Island of Youth") in Siguanea Bay. We were all excited to visit the island and we went ashore on a smaller local boat that picked us up from Harmony V. Shortly before we arrived at the dock we spotted a small 5 ft. long crocodile that slowly swam away at the surface heading towards the mangroves on the opposite shore; talk about a reception committee!

We drove around the countryside heading north towards the capital city of Nueva Gerona, and got the chance to see the variety of crops that are being cultivated here, mainly mangos, bananas, beans, corn and many other species. We also saw several of the more than sixty schools and universities that Castro's Revolution built on the island and where young people from all over the world studied for free to become doctors, dentists and other professionals. Countries from Central and South America, Africa, Asia and even Israel benefited from that program that came to an end in 1990.

Once in Nueva Gerona we visited the infamous Presidio Modelo ("Model Prison") where Fidel and the rest of the revolutionaries that were captured after their failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Military Quarters were jailed. After that we had the chance to visit a Maternity Clinic in town to learn a bit about the great care that is given to pregnant women, and spoke with the eleven ladies that were currently spending their last weeks or days of pregnancy there.

Then we visited an Arts School, where elementary and secondary grade students work extra-hard, because they not only learn about their regular topics, but also train in dancing, singing, or playing an instrument. We had the chance to watch several of their classes and interact with many of them with lots of pictures, laughter and fun.

And after a truly fantastic lunch and ample free time to wander around Nueva Gerona, we headed back to our floating home in Cuba and got ready to continue our exciting journey of discovery and learning in beautiful Cuba.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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