PETE CLARK | Scotsman.com
Saturday morning, on a small boat a few miles from Havana. We left the Hemingway Marina about two beers ago with the idea of catching a marlin, one of those fish with a long spike on its nose. Although the fishing seat looked comfortable enough, it brought with it responsibilities.
A more appropriate resting place was to be found by the small cabin, where a lookout could be maintained. The sky was perfectly blue, as was its mirror image the sea. Nothing happened for a very long time, nor did it need to. Then suddenly, as I gazed into the azure, there was a steel grey flash and a great whining from the fishing line. The professional fisherman ushered me quickly towards the stern and indicated the seat with enthusiasm.
Watching the speed with which the line was disappearing, I decided the fish would be in Jamaica before I could stop its momentum, and graciously gave up the seat. Minutes later, this sleek fish was stretched out on the deck. I went over the side for a swim to celebrate, though without picking up great speed.
What was extraordinary about the whole affair was that we were almost the only boat around. Looking toward the land, there were great stretches of unspoilt coastline. There were no beaches, as such, just unbroken vegetation with, every now and then, a small building. This is Cuba in its natural state. It is hard to believe that, should things change on this island, which is still communist, such wide open spaces will survive for long. The seasoned traveller might expect to see hotels and all the associated amenities, but under Castro, there are hardly any. After him, who knows?
Back at the marina, my fishing companion Simon and I were received like heroes before being elbowed aside in the rush to photograph the marlin. Even in such uncrowded waters as these, it appeared, these fish are not often caught. Having been spurned, we retired to the café to wait for a taxi back to town, and to try on the paper chef’s hats we had been given by staff at the restaurant next door, possibly in the mistaken belief that we would be delivering them a big fish.
I always enjoy reading these individual stories about one person’s or group’s travels around Cuba. This one is well written and entertaining.