27 June 2015

Jardines De La Reina, Cuba

Long before December 2014 when political relations with Cuba became more relaxed, Cody and I spent 16 months of planning with Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co., worrying about visas, deciding from which country we would disembark to enter Cuba, buying airline tickets, how many extra nights--if any--we would stay in Cuba sightseeing, and how to accurately pack for a 10-day trip to a country that had been off-limits to Americans for 60 years.
Back Row L-R:  Jeronimo, Camilo, John, Dick, Will, Brad, Bill
Front Row L-R:  Ron, Meredith, me, Cody, Juan
Avalon II with the Tortuga in the background
After arriving in Havana on 19 June, our group of 12 anglers awoke early Saturday morning for a five hour bus ride (tour bus) south and east of Havana along Highway 1 to the port town Jucaro.  Upon arrival, we off-loaded the bus and boarded our live-aboard ship, Avalon II.  Our passports were checked, luggage loaded, and we settled in for a five hour boat ride to our fishing destination, Cayo Anclitas in the Jardines De La Reina, a Caribbean Sea, mangrove islands archipelago laying east of the Pickle Banks and north of the Cayman Trench. Other ships in the Avalon Group stay anchored and operate as both a fishing and
diving center.

As slow-growing as mangroves are, the archipelago consists almost entirely of mangroves.  Despite some mangrove destruction due to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the islands were abundantly teeming with wildlife--Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, Great Egrets, Iguanas, Hutias, a tree rat that looks more like a beaver with marsupial forelegs, and a rich, healthy sea life, including sea crocodiles, and miles of turtle-grass flats and coral reefs.  Certainly, this fly fishing destination was unlike any to which I had previously traveled.

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