Chapter 3: Pied Piper of the Pelicans

The daily treks to the beach each day to scope out the best hut (for that much coveted DSCN1219shade later) is usually done in the wee hours of the morning.  Since I am not a morning person, I vaguely remember the bed shifting as husband rolled out of bed to grab the beach towels that he dutifully draped over our chairs to reserve them.  For good measure he would tie our ‘Canada’ towels to the straw hut.  The beach attendant (who apparently is also a morning person) affectionately labeled him ‘Mr. Canada’ each morning.  He would run ahead and sweep the sand off the chairs and pick the best out of the stack.  This of course garnered him a peso or two and he was ‘Johnny on the spot’ every day after that to offer assistance.  Gotta love it.

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A Lifeguard station (without a lifeguard – ever)!

Many days after our daily walks on the beach, I tried to catch a short siesta on my lounge.  It is difficult to accomplish as the Cuban music blares from speakers near the beach restaurant all day and if you are not far enough away, even the thundering of the breakers will not drown it out.  The first few days we thought it was appropriate enough, but like some kind of torture by day 10 the music (which was the same day in, day out) started to grate on my nerves.  So I gave up any notion I had of catching a stolen nap.  We read a lot of books under our little hut with the palm frond roof.  It was like heaven in there after working up a sweat in the 30+ sun.  I can see why everyone covets these huts – they were heaven sent!

Little Lady

Cute or what!

There is always something to entertain.  I love people watching (in a non-stalking sort of way).  A ‘Cuban’ fashion show was performed on the beach one hot afternoon, with beautiful Cuban models sashaying barefoot onto the beach wearing handmade crotchet outfits.  To the tune of ‘Gangnam Style’ they quick stepped and weaved their way around lounging sunbathers. As I was watching this lineup of fashion (and wishing I could look like that in those see-though dresses), there was some loud applause and hooting and hollering.  From my vantage point I couldn’t see what the extra applause was about.  But just in case I dug my camera out of the beach bag and was prepared to capture it…whatever ‘it’ was.  And there she was!  A beautiful 90+ lady with a flowing turquoise beach cover-up, sun visor, cane, and camera in hand was weaving her way directly through the models who were desperately trying to side-step her.  I looked at husband and asked.  “Will you take me to Cuba when I am 90?”  His answer was, “absolutely!”  “Okay then!”

Margies bird

One of many birds…waiting to steal some food!

There is no shortage of birds on this Caribbean Island.  I only recognize what I see on the beach while the other birds on land are small and very, very bold.  I couldn’t help but think of my sister (who is terrified of birds) and what she would do while birds wait until you turn your head so they can steal food almost from your plate.  Most of the restaurants do not have walls so they can fly in and out at will.  The beach birds (seagulls and such) are accustomed to ‘human’ intrusion.  Seagulls will barely move out of my way when I am walking.  They don’t bother anyone though and that is okay by me.

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Pelican Pied Piper (& a helper) and his flock

This year I witnessed something new.  A local Cuban strolled along the waterfront with a white bucket.  He sat down on top of the bucket and it was like he rang a dinner bell.  Out of nowhere, a flock of Pelicans came soaring in for a landing.  Like a Pied Piper, the gentleman would put out his arm and gesture where he wanted them to land. They swooped in with a fat plop exactly where he wanted them.  They stood there looking at him, waiting patiently and ignoring all the beach goers who had also flocked around this guy for some photo ops (me included).  For a peso he would give anyone (who was brave enough) a handful of sardines to feed the Pelicans.  Thanks, but I will just take pictures!  Husband interrupted his swim for the honor to partake of the festivities.  I warned him about the ‘hook’ at the end of the Pelican’s beak which is very sharp, but apparently he had invoked his ‘selective hearing’ ability. Without hesitation he began to feed the Pelicans.  They were hungry and happy to snap the sardines from his hand.  One was a little too eager and left a bloody trail down his finger.  I held back my famous ‘I told you so’, and offered him a Band-Aid instead.  With a sheepish grin, he said; “Thanks.”

Enough said.

Males with blond heads

Pelicans (not more than a foot away from me)!

Pelican Trivia:  The male Pelican is the prettiest, sporting bright yellow top feathers and more orange on the beak.

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