Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs

The sun was shining as we left Havana, riding in our comfortable air-conditioned Chinese manufactured bus to the Bay of Pigs.  The highway was four lanes wide and there was little traffic.  Most of the agricultural land was fallow.  We traveled through the province of Matanzas and the capital by the same name.  On the way I learned that the Cubans recycle and protect animal and plant species with nature preserves and biospheres.  Along the highway there were mango, banana and orange orchards.  As we approached the Bay of Pigs, we passed through the town of Australia where Fidel Castro commanded the resistance to the invasion.  As we entered Zapata Park, a swamp and wetlands, I observed monuments to the 170 Cubans who died in the Bay of Pigs invasion.  The road was a bloody mess with thousands of dead hermit crabs smashed on the pavement.  When we reached the Caribbean side of Cuba I realized where the Havana blue originated.  The waters were the bluest blue.  We arrived at Playa Giron and the Bay of Pigs Museum where the 1961 clash between the U.S. trained exiles (called mercenaries by the Cubans) and rebel forces fought for 72 hours.  Many historical artifacts,maps and pictures in the museum told the story.  The pictures were dramatic.    We enjoyed our welcome drink and buffet lunch at a seaside resort.  There were vegetables and a nice selection of food.  The meal was one of the best at a state restaurant.  The resort was crowded with Russian, French and German tourists.  Scuba diving and snorkeling were available but we were told that since we were in Cuba on a cultural exchange visa we could not participate in any tourist pleasures including swimming in the Caribbean.  We were allowed to swim at the hotel swimming pools.