I took this photograph only two months ago in Cuba, which is kind of hard to believe given that it feels more like 2 years ago! I decided to pull this photo up today as a reminder to myself of what it was like to experience sunshine, warm breezes and so much greenery. Thankfully I am going to Austin, TX in a couple of days and am literally counting the hours and minutes until my feet touch the ground without the aid of moon boots and several layers of protective clothing. And to top it off I will be visiting a number of fantastic gardens to photograph for the Green Minds Project. I can’t wait!
It’s so hot and humid in Cuba they’ve got airy shade “houses” to protect orchids and other tropicals from the intense sun while the rest of us must resort to expensive greenhouses in order to gather as much light and humidity as possible.
I took this photo at Jardin Gran Piedre, a botanical garden located up in the Sierra Maestra mountains on the site of an old coffee plantation. [You can read about our harried trip up to the garden here.] The plantation was once owned by the French and operated on the forced labor of Haitian slaves. The place operates as a tourist site and commercial Bird of Paradise flower grow-op but the bones of the old plantation still remains. The wall in this photo that now houses orchids and bromeliads probably used to be the sides of slave quarters. Opposite to this wall and not seen in the photo were intact slave houses now functioning as storage sheds for gardening tools and equipment.
I don’t know how it happened but Davin RUINED my highly artistic photo with his butt and apparently I did not notice until I looked at the film. Look at all of those spider webs among the leaves of the plant. I wonder what kind of Cuban spiders lived there?
Every information source I consulted bragged that Cuba does not have any venomous animals but I continue to remain suspicious of that factoid given that during our short week trip we encountered several instances in which Cubans tended to deny one thing or another.
“There is no crime in Cuba!” bragged one tour guide.
“We do not have any social problems here!” said another.
“There are no sharks in our waters.”
All of these proclamations seem a little unlikely so you can imagine why I’m not completely convinced that there are no venomous animals on the entire island. It’s not that I was afraid. The presence of venomous or deadly animals is not going to limit me. I’m not about to cower in my hotel room worried that stepping out into the world might lead to certain death. I’ll go in the water (albeit tentatively) if I know sharks are a possibility. I just like to know what I’m dealing with. I like all potential hazards out in the open so I can ascertain how to best ensure my safety.