2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s victory over the USA at the Bay of Pigs. So when this year’s group travelled to Playa Girón on April 8th we sensed an added historical component. Accompanied by Professor Raúl Rodríguez, the Cuban photographer, Néstor Martí and his wife Yuli, we arrived at the Girón museum only after certain difficulties. It seems that very April, the road to the Bay of pigs is the site of a huge crab migration that leaves the highway covered with the cadavers of hundreds of red crabs. The smell is horrible and the view is bad, but the worst part is that these crabs have sharp claws, so sharp that they punctured a tire on one the two minivans and this caused a half hour delay.
But the visit to the two museums, one in Australia and one in Girón, was worth the added work. Professor Rodríguez gave us a detailed explanation of troop movements, battle plans, ‘enemy’ strategy, and final results. We all came away slightly stunned at seeing ourselves as the ‘villains’ of the story and hearing the term ‘imperialista’ applied to us. Not only did we get to see fascinating photos dealing with the battle, we also heard curious anecdotes about soldiers who died for Cuba while fighting against the USA. The soldier who wrote Fidel’s name in blood and the young girl whose longed for white shoes were perforated by shrapnel were just two of the legends that remain from the battle.
Out trip home was also quite enjoyable. We stopped at a restaurant on the beach called ‘Punta Perdiz,’ where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of ‘cocodrilo,’ tomatoes, soup, and salad. We also stayed on the beach long enough for the students to rent snorkel gear and enjoy the crystal clear waters of the ‘caribe.’