Once we arrived in Marathon it was a waiting game looking for the best weather conditions to cross the Gulf Stream and enter the infamous Paso Malo (the entrance canal to Marina Darsena in Varadero, Cuba). We passed up our first opportunity because the window was too short and the conditions at Varadero were not good for a canal entry. However, just about a week later, on December 16th, a second opportunity presented itself and off we went!
Pioneer sights Cuban land at dawn on the 17th
The passage was completed in a record 19 hours. We left Marathon on December 16th at noon and arrived in Varadero just as the sun was rising at 6:30 am. on December 17th. As dawn approached, we could just make out the range marks at the end of the narrow canal that would lead us to Marina Darsena. As expected, there were several small fishing boats outside of the canal as well as locals hanging their lines off the ends of the canal abutments.
Locals hoping for a good catch….
A fisherman up at dawn to earn a living…
Our good friend at Darsena, Debbie, made sure that the officials were on the dock waiting for us. The officials were very nice and helpful and the check in process went very smoothly. After docking Pioneer in a great spot on A dock, we grabbed a quick breakfast and then rode into Santa Marta with Debbie to reacquaint ourselves with past friendships. Dolores, Ramon and Raul – three great friends that we were so pleased to see again.
Dolores takes time out of parking the market cars to pose for a shot….
Ramon is still working hard at his market stall but takes time to make us feel welcome
Raul, the bicycle attendant is always fun to kid with, AND he takes really good care of our bikes!
Judy and Debbie scout out the produce at the market
The next day we returned to the market area for the new, weekly Sunday market. Many of the farmers would bring in truckloads of their produce and sell it for very reasonable prices. The best price we got on pineapples was 5 for approximately 50 cents! You can’t beat that for a bargain! There were many pork vendors throwing, washing and chopping pig parts, including livers and heads! Roasted pork is a common meat for special days like Christmas Eve and New Years.