Today is our final full day on the R/V Alucia! We are currently steaming towards Florida on our way back from a brief visit to Havana, Cuba.
We arrived in Havana on the afternoon of the 22nd, cleared customs, and then went to shore (Havana Vieja – old Havana) for mojitos and dinner on a rooftop. It was neat to approach Havana with the Cuban scientists, many of whom had never had the experience of seeing their city from the water. We also met Fredy, Victor, Mayelin, and Viky for dinner and had a wonderful time reminiscing about our cruise while eating tostones, empanadillas, and ceviche! After dinner, we came back to the Alucia for the night. We laughed the entire boat ride from the customs back to the Alucia about a terrifying, yet hilarious event that took place earlier in the evening.
On Nov. 23rd/ American Thanksgiving, we went back to Havana Vieja in the morning to visit the permanent artisanal craft fair, to eat lunch, and to attend a small scientific conference in the afternoon. We wandered the lively and busy craft market and purchased a few gifts and momentos to remember our trip. Lunch was enjoyed outside, in the company of two street cats who decided to sit underneath our chairs. Andrew, Ashlee, and I ordered the Ropa vieja – a classic and delicious cuban dish.
After lunch, we headed to the conference venue. The purpose of this conference was to share and review the scientific work that each of us conducted on the cruise and to teach other students within the masters and graduate programs in Cuba about our methods and techniques. We all enjoyed this experience and were happy to participate despite the lingering exhaustion from the past few weeks of busy field work! After the conclusion of the conference, we were forced to say goodbye to our Cuban family. I will truly miss living alongside of, dancing with, sharing meals with, singing with, working with, and diving with these fascinating and inspirational people. I hope to see them soon!
After the conference, we took the pilot boat back to the Alucia and then departed, leaving the glowing, mysterious, and romantic city of Havana in the distance. We also enjoyed the Alucia version of a Thanksgiving dinner (complete with homemade Pumpkin pie and whipped cream -thanks Mitch!) while watching a few movies in the crew mess.
Thanks for reading!