Well I seen a horse fly
I seen a dragon fly
I seen a house fly
But I’d never seen a flamingo fly. I never even realized that they could. I guess I just thought they were one of the flightless birds, like a penguin.
Now, it was quite the adventure getting to see the flamingo lagoon but it was a trip that I’ll never forget.
This was all part of our trip to Cuba in 2016. We had an itinerary all planned which met the guidelines at the time to support the Cuban people. We spent three nights in Havana and then headed to Trinidad, Playa Giron and finally to Viñales. Unfortunately, on the fourth day of our trip, most all of our group developed severe gastrointestinal distress which made it impossible for us to partake in the planned activities. After spending a day in our room recovering, we felt well enough to travel from Trinidad to Playa Giron.
Our guides, who were very understanding of our condition, tried to come up with alternate activities that were more suited to our fragile state. As a way to break up the drive, they suggested we stop at the flamingo lagoon.
Sharon’s ears perked up immediately. How come she wasn’t alerted of such a location in all of our planning? Of course, we were going!
Sharon is well versed in things flamingo. She always visits them when we visit Sea World in Orlando (with tickets we get from the Daily Getaways promotion) and spends FOREVER there. (Note from Sharon: You shut up. It’s not forever. And I always tell you to go ride a roller coaster or something, don’t I? 😉)
Personally, I think she missed out on a career path as a flamingo walker. Notice the flamingo backpack? Obsessed much? (Note from Sharon: I SAID, you shut up! LOLOL!)
So when we pulled up in our truck to Laguna Guanaroca, located about 40 minutes outside of Cienfuegos, it wasn’t quite what we were expecting.
We checked in at the office area and were directed down a path to the lagoon. Along the way, our friends climbed the ricketiest lookout tower I’d ever seen. Even they admitted it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to have done.
We arrived at the dock and a boat was waiting for us.
Since there were five of us in our group, We were told that three of us would go in one boat the two in the other. We ended up getting to travel with our guide. This is me on the dock thinking if I really want to get onto the boat that looks like the thing from the FlexSeal commercial with a screen door cut into the bottom. Note: I let Sharon get on first 🙂 (Note from Sharon: I love you too, dear)
Eventually, I built up my courage and boarded the…..boat? I let them have the umbrella while I roasted in the sun. Honestly, I was happy just to be able to get out of the room.
The lagoon is full of brackish water from where the Caribbean Sea meets the fresh water. This is supposedly a great area for shrimp, which are the favorite food for the flamingos. When we got out into the lagoon, we saw packs of them along the shores near the mangrove trees.
And then it happened. They flew!!!!!!
What is this magic? How is this even possible? Seeing the awkward, funny-looking birds that stand on one leg take off from the water and become this elongated, graceful flying bird was breathtaking and I almost fell out of our boat, trying to get a good picture.
And then it was over. We turned around and our captain/guide/dude who paddles the boat took us back to the dock/landing/shed. Upon returning, we bought some bananas from the people sitting at the shed for 2 CUC ($2 USD). We thought that was the price per banana but when we handed them money they treated us like we were royalty and insisted we take the whole bunch. We didn’t care and were in no mood to reverse haggle. A banana was exactly what we wanted to eat while recovering from our stomach flu.
I couldn’t even tell you how to get to this place as we had a guide and a driver take us around Cuba outside of Havana. Writing this article was the first time I even bothered to look up where this place is located.
This is the epitome of a natural preserve. There’s no development, no corporate intervention. Just some enterprising people who have a few boats and take tourists out onto a lagoon to see what flamingos look like in the wild.
(Note from Sharon – It was frickin’ AWESOME! And it was FLAMINGOS!!!)
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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Very nice post. The wifely interjections made for a great counterpoint.
Flamingos do not fly at zoos, Seaworld, etc. because they either cut off the pinion joint of the birds wing or they clip the flight feathers. The problem with clipping is that once or twice a year they grow back and it has to be done again. Flamingos that are clipped have been known to escape when their feathers grow back.
At Hialeah Race Track in Miami, they have flamingos that can fly. I asked why they don’t fly away, and was told that they’re happy, so why leave?