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Cuba

Saturday, 11 September 2004
Ivan the terrible

Cuba Cayo Largo

Over the next few days my thoughts will be in the Carribean, as Ivan continues its path of destruction.  I took the above photo of Scarlett in the sea off Cayo Largo in 2002 when it was still recovering from hurricane Michelle of November 2001.  The resort in the background of the photo was still closed.

Posted by bigblue on 11/09/2004 at 10:38 PM
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Sunday, 25 July 2004
Club Sol

Cuba Cayo Largo Club Sol

This is a photo of the resort that we stayed in, Club Sol, on the island of Cayo Largo del Sol.  The official tourist website for the Island is here.  Under the history section I was interested to read that the Island was used by pirates in the past, including

the renowned terror of the seas Francis Drake.

Posted by bigblue on 25/07/2004 at 05:14 PM
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Saturday, 24 July 2004
First drive

Cuba Cayo Largo

After leaving the turtle farm we drove on to Playa Serina and Playa Paradiso, where we sat on the beach and each had a cold drink. Scarlett had her first stint behind the wheel, captured on camera by Pinkie. I contributed the sound effects, mainly in the form of instructions about slowing down and avoiding certain potholes in the road.

Posted by bigblue on 24/07/2004 at 05:11 PM
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Wednesday, 21 July 2004
A problem called ...

Cuba Cayo Largo turtle

Maria is a female loggerhead who came to Cayo Largo in the summer of 2002, laid a nest of eggs, and then hung around.  The turtle farm people tried to help her to get back to the open sea, but she kept swimming back again. They then decided that she was unwell, and let her stay in her own pool in order to get better and regain her strength before giving another stab at the long swim back to her feeding grounds.

Both Scarlett and Pinkie declined to have a ride around the pool on the back of Maria.

Posted by bigblue on 21/07/2004 at 05:01 PM
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Tuesday, 20 July 2004
granja de la tortuga

Cuba Cayo Largo turtle farm

The “turtle farm” on Cayo Largo is situated near the marina, and one day we hired a jeep and paid it a visit.  We met this man working there, who doesn’t speak English, but explained the work of the farm to us in Spanish. As we don’t understand Spanish the conversations were very long and animated. We ended up speaking French to him, and he may or may not have understood this better.

He explained that the farm is linked to a University in Havana, and they come and do studies here. The turtle eggs hatch after about 2 months after they have been laid, just after dawn.  The sex of the turtles is determined by the temperature at which they incubate. A higher temperature of incubation apparently favours females and a lower temperature favours males. (This would be determined not only by the climate, but by the depth of the hole that their mother has dug in the sand, and whether the eggs are at the bottom or the top of the nest). After hatching they head straight towards the sea. Here they are vulnerable to birds, and other predators. So he gathers them up and puts them into large tanks of sea water on the farm. He feeds them jellyfish, and protects them for a further 3 months as they swim round and round the tanks until they are too large to be eaten by the birds. He then releases them into the ocean. He suggested that only one turtle out of every 1000 will reach maturity and return to lay eggs on the island. The conservationists are trying to raise the odds in favour of the turtles, but it is a long-term project.

I noticed that when we left the farm we argued among ourselves about some of the facts that the conservationist had given us.  For example we had some confusion about how often the females return to the nesting grounds, and how old they are when they return to lay their first batch of eggs.  Nevertheless, I think I have summarised the above points accurately.

Posted by bigblue on 20/07/2004 at 12:32 PM
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Monday, 19 July 2004
Area de incubacion - tortugas marinas

Cuba Cayo Largo turtle

On our first night on Cayo Largo a marine turtle hauled herself up onto the beach, dug a hole and laid her eggs before heading back to sea, and her feeding grounds which are several thousand kilometres away.  These creatures, which have lived on earth since the dinosaurs (200 million years ago)  are now endangered due to human activity.

On Cayo Largo is a turtle conservation office, and they tend to collect all the eggs and move them into designated hatching areas (where they can be better protected and easier monitored). If the eggs are not moved, then they are still roped-off and clearly marked so that visitors to the island won’t accidentally disturb the nest.  The nests are all individually dated.

Posted by bigblue on 19/07/2004 at 06:55 PM
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Sunday, 18 July 2004
la main couvert de sable

Cuba Cayo Largo

This is a shot I took of Pinkie’s hand on one of the beaches on Cayo Largo. The sand on the island is very pale, and it reminded me of the beaches of Bilene, and its Uembje Lagoon, which I remember from when we lived in Swaziland and took holidays there.

Cayo Largo is just 21 degrees North of the equator, accounting for the warmth of the sea. However, apparently due to its whiteness, the beach is always cool. We could walk barefoot in the midday sun on the beaches without feeling any heat from the sand.

On 4 November 2001 Cayo Largo was struck by Hurricane Michelle, with devastating effect. During our stay we were advised that only the one resort was open, as they were renovating the others. I believe that they are all running smoothly now.

Posted by bigblue on 18/07/2004 at 11:54 AM
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Saturday, 17 July 2004
nager

Cuba Cayo Largo beach

While we were in Cuba there was plenty of cloud in the sky, and it was continually hot and humid. I took this photo on the beach in Cayo Largo, of the girls swimming in the sea. The water was 20 to 22 degrees Celcius, so very comfortable.  We didn’t manage to go snorkelling because it was cancelled due to choppy waves. Most of the time on the island we spent next to the pool in the hotel, or lying on the beach.

Posted by bigblue on 17/07/2004 at 05:41 PM
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