February 20th, 2019
Punta de Cartas is a small commercial fishing town to the southwest of San Luis on the Bahia de Cortes. After touring the tobacco farms in the areas around San Luis, I asked our host Rolando if we could ride scooters to the town and watch the fishing boats come back to their home port and unload their catch. Without any hesitation about the ability of the scooters and the charge on the batteries, Rolando said yes, and we rode about 30km on dirt roads that weaved through farms and tracts of undeveloped land.
We reached the end of the road, and immediately saw the small fishing skiffs that had their makeshift sails up, taking advantage of the prevailing southern winds to bring them home. The tide was low and falling. Nearly every boat that came in, ran aground on the sand bar at the mouth of the small mangrove lined creek. The fishermen and towns people worked together to push the boats across the bar. Once the boats made it into the creek, the 'wholesalers' came down with buckets and stringers to buy fish that they would later sell around town. A handful of fishermen brought in bags of oyster meats that they harvested in the brackish water lagoons to the east of the town. Oysters in Cuba grow on the roots of Mangrove trees and are easily harvested on a low tide.
After watching the boats come in, we walked to the dilapidated marina where the boats were tied up. Even with a limited Spanish vocabulary, we were able to converse with the Cuban fishermen about what they were catching and how they were catching. I shared pictures on my phone with them from fishing, crabbing and oystering on the Chesapeake Bay which peaked their interest about the United States and our culture. As the sun started to go down, we made our way back to San Luis and stopped at the homes of Rolando's family and friends where he introduced us as his new American friends.