Blazing bright in a bluebird sky, the tropic sun reflects white off the sugar sand beach of Guadalavaca, a welcome change from clouds and wind of yesterday’s passing front. This Cuban coastal town, home to many all-inclusive resorts, caters to European and Canadian bargain hunters.
At the hotel boundary, a fleet of small fishing boats sets grounded on the mud bank of a small tidal stream, awaiting the flood tide. Carlos, the waterman in charge of the resorts fishing center, shows off a couple of old Penn fifty reels. “We have the gear.” he brags. “for the marlin and wahoo.”
Leaving the resort area I stroll between the water and a few small houses separated by pens of livestock and small gardens. Around each beach-side dwelling, beds of flowers color the scene and scent the air……. the image off a post card.
Down the beach two men seine net, up to their chest in water. They’re trapping palemetto. The shallows here are rich, but the narrow sand and rock shelf drops off quickly, ending at the coral reef, then open ocean.
Pedro and Fito head out to do some blue water spearfishing. They’re after wahoo and tuna. Though Pedro’s four banded long gun is somewhat sketchy by open water standards, his float rig is sound; he knows what he’s doing.
We met last evening on the veranda of the beach house where I’ve rented a small comfortable room. Pedro, the nephew of my lady landlord, is a spearfisherman.
They swim into the five foot breakers crashing on the razor sharp reef, toward deep water. From where I stand on the limestone bluff, there is no break, only pounding surf. Two heads disappear into the white water.
Pedro doesn’t get his tuna, his wahoo either. He hit the latter – a good one – about forty pounds, but a bull shark took it. Pedro is left only the head, which his mother will make into fish stew. “The bulls can be a problem.” Pedro explains, “But when the big tigers come up from the deep, we leave the water.”
According to both men, there were schools of tuna, up to fifty pounds, but they were wary, spooky, staying out of gun range.
So I treat both young men to fresh seared tuna, dining in a palm thatch patio restaurant perched above the sea. It’s a chunk from a seventy-pound yellow-fin caught the day before by the palidar’s owner Miguel. His hands bear cuts from the handline; he has no gloves.
Against the darkness, lights of a cruise ship appear rising like a small city on the pitch-black sea. Skirting the coast just outside the twelve-mile limit, it is bound for ports farther south.
Chewing, Fito gestures with his fork. “One day I would like to see that ship up close.” He says. “It must be something to have that many lights.”