Tao: The Gardens of the Queen

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We left Santiago marina at 4.30 am to make sure that we would arrive the next day. The anchorage at Marea del Portillo is a lagoon, surrounded by mangrove.  We had hardly dropped anchor when the local authorities rowed over to stamp our cruising permit. Early the next day we sailed silently down channels rich with life which  meander between and under the mangroves. On land we met Georje and his family. They lived in the first house on the road into the village. They invited us to eat with them that evening, and without openly complaining, explained to us the reality of life in Cuba. The next day we brought them some rope, clothes, soap and some hair clippers.

The next part of the journey took us to the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen). This is over 150 miles of outcrops of reefs and tiny islands covered in mangrove. At nightfall, a boat came alongside, and three smiling fishermen offered us some langoustines. We invited them on board, and we all participated in preparing the langoustines: one dish was cooked in the oven with garlic and ginger. The other was marinated in lemon juice before being fried quickly in butter. The fishermen ...

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