Standing on the beach staring out at the deep blue water, it’s hard to imagine a world so vibrant and full of life lying just a few meters away from our feet. My dive group and I shuffle slowly into the water, careful not to slip on the smooth black stones beneath our boots. With all our gear in place and a quick press of our deflators, we descend down into this beautiful wonderland hidden just below the surface.
On our journey north of the polar circle, my fellow adventurers and I were greeted by an astonishing spectacle. Over 20 orca were hunting an animal so rare that few people have seen them in the wild, let alone had the chance to study them. Using immense strength, agility and cunning intelligence, the orca worked as a team to hold the Arnoux’s beaked whale under water to drown it.
We’re swimming fast. Too fast for my liking. I’m taking heaving gulps, and I know my tank won’t last very long if we don’t slow down soon. Just as I’m about to stop and risk losing my group, we hear a rapid series of bangs coming from our dive boat in the distance. Our guide, a lithe Indonesian with pistons for legs and bottomless iron lungs, points into the blue and somehow quickens his pace.
As the wheels touched down at Havana’s International airport, the plane erupted with cheers and applause. Many of the passengers on board had waited years, if not decades, to return home and visit relatives in Cuba. As part of a small group of Americans visiting for the first time, I knew immediately that we were in for a special treat.