In a skylight sunpool of shallow seawater a turtle rests on a bed of rusting wishcoins.
Squat castle protects the bay from those English pirates. Stone on stone by dragged-in
slaves from Trinidad. The Lady in Blue still haunts the moat and dungeon. We emerge
from the darkness of karabiners and cutlasses and a scale model of the bilateral twin
reactor plant that sits still like a mosque, like a sultan on the horizon spied from the
boat where we stood at the stern beside a man cradling an ancient television in his
arms like a newborn. The government graffiti on the seawall, Bienvenidos Socialista.
From the turret I see the abandoned rectangles of the Soviets, hundreds held on from
the nineties, still rejecting Perestroika, staying put, hoping, existing somehow in an
empty nuclear city. Bored horses and cans of sunboiled beer blaze. The Caribbean heat
is amoral. Smoke from a lizard corpse and my own skin bubbling before my eyes
drives us to the restaurant. Meaty lobster tail split and grilled with a fillet of wreckfish,
a musselshell filled with cold octopus flesh, diced with herbs, seven year old rum and
my face in a bucket of ice. A pelican statue, red kerchief round its beak, stands watch
over the bay. From the boat back to Cienfuegos, the sugar refinery's stripey chimney
reminds us of Dublin and eyes down to ooh at the aquatic propulsion of jelly, each bell
inflating mechanically and expelling renewable water from its organism, an entire
world blue and gelatinous with a million medusas, one of nature's oldest creatures, her
most energy efficient children, the locomotion of pulsating umbrellas, all of them, like
us, dashing somewhere else because they have to, because they can.