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Cuba An island in paradise

A boat that sails from the dock lying on Km 12 of Las Morlas Road takes you there. The boat navigates through a channel and then out to the open sea. Although the trip is through shallow water you can see all the colors, from light green to deep turquoise, on account of the turtle grass that grows in the bottom.
One of the most beautiful sights of the trip are the small mounds of sand that rise a few inches above of the water, thus creating unique beaches that are swept around by sea currents and the wind. Cuban fishermen call them arenazos (from arena, Spanish for sand) and sometimes you can see dozens of cormorants resting there or enjoying the sun.

The keys all around --Diana, Chalupa, Bajo Chalupa, all part of the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago— are seen as flowering lands in the middle of the sea, an illusion created by the thick foliage of mangroves, the only vegetation that can adapt to the difficult environment.

After some 45 minutes of peaceful sailing you reach Paradise Island. Only on reaching the dock you can appreciate its true beauty. In spite of its small size --only 17 hectares— this key is a perfectly balanced ecosystem teeming with life, from unsuspected microscopic forms to the imposing iguanas, queens of the site, which wander around so carelessly that they seem to say how little accustomed they are to threat from human beings.

Walking the trail that takes you from the dock to the interior of the island you can see the hutías approaching you, large rodents native to Cuba. They are so tame that some of them like to be petted. On a coconut tree perhaps you’ll be able to see Cuban yellow warblers, with its bright feathers the male and the female somewhat less colorful; the grey kingbird; the Greater Antillean pewee or the Common black hawk. Other local birds are pelicans and the Short billed dowitcher.

All wildlife is human fed, according to the project of sustainable management of the Enterprise for the Protection of Wildlife and Flora. Their work of conservation guarantees the sustainability of the key.

A canal divides what could be called the “mainland” and a part of the key known as “Bathing with Fish”, a sort of natural pool in which you can swim with red snappers, turtles, blowfish and several coral species.

But the beach is undoubtedly the greatest view, with the sea flowing to the horizon, a breeze from the north, white sand carpeted with shells and small skeletons of sea creatures. You can return one hundred times and it will never be the same, for the weather is always modeling its curves that sometimes go forward and sometimes recede, as if drawn by an invisible hand.

Far away, silhouetted against the bright light of the horizon, pink flamingos remind us that we really are in an Island in Paradise.
(Sol y Son)

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