I consider myself fortunate to have been able to travel to Cuba. It is not easy to get there as an American Citizen. I had dreams about what the island would look like based on movies. When the opportunity arose to travel there with my scuba diving group, I could not say no.
Flying to Mexico was relatively smooth. We had to get visas at the airport before the flight to Cuba.
What little I did see of Cuba was extraordinary. The cars that were there were classic. I have never seen vehicles like the ones they have in my lifetime. It is almost like stepping back in time. On the journey to the liveaboard from Santa Clara, I was amazed that things changed once you left the town. There were many horse-drawn carriages because there weren't many gas stations the further you went. Almost all of the homes had systems to catch rainwater off the roof.
I stayed on a liveaboard in Fidel Castro's private marine preserve. The boat was quite large and had an entire crew that made us food and took us out to our dive sights. I have lived on a boat before, but nothing like this. There was a hot tub on the boat's top deck and plenty of lounging room.
I loved our cabin on the boat. I shared it with another young woman who was incredibly kind. One huge perk was that our rooms had private bathrooms with a shower. Having a shower every day after diving and being covered in salt hits the spot.
We were diving and living on Jardines Aggressor II.
This was the place where I fell in love with mangoes. There weren't many options for me because of dairy allergy in terms of the desert, so I always received a mango cut up into little cubes, and it was terrific. All of our food was fresh and made incredibly.
The marine life in Cuba was unlike anything I have or will see. The animals lived in a sanctuary that was essentially untouched by humans. Fish and lobsters could go about living their lives with little to worry about but nature itself. Groupers could grow as large as sharks. It was a bubble of extraordinary life.
There was so much to explore that one week couldn't do it justice.
*Photos of me were taken by fellow diver SG.
By the end of the trip, my Spanish started to come back to me, and I could go through security at the airport speaking in Spanish. Incredibly, the languages you learn but cant recite off-hand come back to you when you are fully immersed.
If you get the chance to scuba dive in Cuba, take that chance.