Cuba Jan 23—Feb 03, 2018

Posted by David Ascanio

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David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours throughout his native country, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, the Amazon River, ...

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We took our first Cuba style meal at the Miami airport with plenty of fried plantains, black beans, and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans).  As we boarded the plane, it seemed to everyone that so many years of waiting had become reality: Cuba was only 103 miles away!

Cuban Grassquit

Cuban Grassquit— Photo: David Ascanio

 

Soon after the plane touched the runway in Camaguey airport, we were introduced to a Cuban tradition: explosive hand-clapping and smiles erupted from the Cubans, some shouting, “after all, I am back home.” There was a grandfather waiting to meet his grandchildren, and a lady almost in tears, ready to see relatives that were last seen probably more than a decade ago. Dozens of Cubans were outside the airport greeting and waving to friends, colleagues, or siblings. There were smiles on everyone.

As we left the airport, we were already embedding ourselves in this educational, birding, and cultural experience. And, as much as we tried to avoid it, the Turkey Vulture was the first Cuban bird species for the tour. Once in Camaguey, we walked about three blocks to admire the wonderful architecture, enjoy the tiles on the floor inside various houses, and were sprayed with the smoke of an old Chevy as we got to see our first endemic bird flying overhead, the Cuban Martin.

Read David’s full report in his Field Report.