Beds secured at the Barcelona Hotel, we set out for Cayo Santa Maria; which is actually a series of coral quays linked by a 47k road. The night before, senora had said something about passports, but because my Spanish is not as strong as they think it is, I had thought S had to present her passport for the extra night… Not so, and fortunately Edgar saves the day by letting us know we will need our passports to visit the quays – weird. As I understood it, there is a need for security checks at the start of the isthmus – presumably stopping someone from jumping on a boat and making for Miami. We also have to pay 15cuc, which includes snorkel and mask, access to the water, and a lunch to the value of 12cuc. It’s for the oldest resort on the quays, and the closest in to land; la Bruja (the witch???) which was completed in the 1990’s.
We pass mangroves and aqua blue waters, our road the only solid surface for a long time. The turn off to our resort takes us past a small airport, and then we are deposited at a hot car park. We take the nearest entrance and pass reception, along a walk way and past the restaurant where we are confronted by a white sandy beach and the most intense aqua water I have seen for a long time.
Unfortunately all the shade umbrellas are taken, so we find some space underneath a palm tree up a sandbank, and make a moderately comfortable seating arrangement using the coconut fibre off said tree. It’s comfortable enough, but fortunately a family group right next to us ups and leaves, so we waste no time in taking possession of their still warm lounge chairs. All set.
I take mask minus snorkel (the last one died remember?) and head off to where the water starts to turn darker blue. Looks more like sea grass than coral reef, and there isn’t a piscine friend to be seen, just clear water and sand. Good thing too, since I have neglected to bring my underwater camera yet again. What kind of a photographer am I???
On the way back to shore, my eye is caught by a splodge of something on the sandy bottom, and as I look closer, I realise it’s moving… A hermit crab perchance? Duck-diving down, I give the poor thing the shock of its life and pluck it off the sea bed to show my companions…. S is lounging in the chair, but when she comes to investigate, what I thought was a crab claw, was in fact a soft tail of some kind and the creature tentatively
checking out its new surroundings looks more snail than crab. A couple of very cute stalks with black eyeballs at the ends wave around at us as we take a few photos. And then, environmentalist that I am, I return it to its watery home, almost precisely where I found it. Another quick duck dive and it’s back where it began, hopefully safe from other marauders.
After our lunch is accounted for, we find Edgar again and continue on around the Cays, I’ve heard that there are flamingos to be seen and there’s a nature reserve at the end that might be interesting. We found the flamingos, and by some freak of photography, I manage to snap a picture of two of them mating – quite a coup, and not realised until I looked closely at the photos; I was too busy with aperture and light and distance to actually see what was happening… 🙂 And unlike at Las Salinas, these ones aren’t just blurry pink blobs!
Further along the road we stop in at one of the newer resorts – it doesn’t look all that entrancing, but Edgar has seen some of his chauffeur friends and we decide he should spend some time catching up with them. After a desultory stroll around in the heat, we decide that a resort is not what we came for, and are glad that we are staying in Remedios. By the way how did that many people fit in the convertible??
Further along the road, we come to a dead end with a sandy path that leads to the point. Its so hot, and my companions are not nature lovers to the degree that I am, so we agree to head back, feeling happy for the experience of Cayo Santa Maria, though not having exhausted its possibilities.