In January 2001, Charlene and I took a week’s vacation at LTI Costa Verde, Holguin, Cuba. It had been the first time in years we’d been alone, with no kids. The weather was warm, the beach was gorgeous. I don’t usually like beach vacations, but this one changed my mind. On January 24, after a couple of cloudy days, we went swimming in the ocean. We took out a paddle boat with a large slide attached, and slid down like a couple of kids into the ocean. I remember not being completely comfortable. Sharks, jellyfish, eels – all manner of creatures lurked beneath. I felt foolish for being worried, especially since Charlene wasn’t. When we got back to shore, I decided to go to the hot tub while Char stayed at the beach. Just ten minutes after we got out of the water, a shark attacked a woman not far from shore, far closer than we had been. Her left arm was almost ripped off. Charlene watched from shore. When the victim was brought to shore, Charlene ran over with her towel and offered it as a tourniquet. A few minutes later, resort staff carried her limp body past me on the way to a taxi. I remember looking at the trail of blood and wondering what happened. It’s a weird feeling to vacation right after a shark attack. The food wasn’t nearly as good. Nobody went in the ocean for the rest of the week. We couldn’t get news on her condition. We sat around, knowing that just a day earlier, this older woman had been sitting where we were. It could have been us. We had been in the water, much deeper than she had been. She’s fine now, although she only has limited mobility in her left arm. The story appeared in the March 2003 Reader’s Digest (Canadian edition):
In 2001, there were 72 unprovoked shark attacks on humans in the world, with the vast majority occuring in North American waters. This was the only one in Cuba.