María Antonia Muñoz Ojeda

“The stronger and fierce it is, the more I love him; it is the greatest to me,” she says with such passion that you immediately discover how much they know each other. María Antonia Muñoz Ojeda has always been linked to the sea, she knows about fishing, ships and everything that concerns the coast.

Puerto Padre, Las Tunas.- She does not hesitate despite her seven decades, and twine in hand, tells that as a girl she became a girlfriend of that immense blue. “Since I was born I am at sea, my mother's labor pains gave her getting off a boat.

“We spent a lot of time on the beach or fishing areas and since I am one of the oldest, I was very close to my dad, I was always riding on the boats behind him. It was precisely my father who taught me everything about the sea; I got so much knowledge that today I can tell you about the best circumstances to take advantage of the nets.”

She is a unique woman, who catches you right away with her revealing stories of gender defiance, in times of accentuated machismo. She relives those years in which she accompanied the harbor pilots to look for the ships.

“That was a challenge that I overcome by force of perseverance, I wanted to be a harbor pilot; what's more, I knew I could be. That is why I wrote to Celia Sánchez and she directed me to go to Customs in the Carúpano Captaincy, I did it and they authorized me immediately, so I was five years getting on the boats, so far the only daring one was me.

Maria Antonia novia del mar"Not everyone goes out to sea to receive the ships, which are enormous, climb that cat ladder and guide them to enter into the harbor," she says with genuine pride.
And she emphasizes: “I learned to anchor them, to make docking and undock, the peculiarities of their exit and to know the canyon, the rails, buoy system to be able to direct them; the degrees, the winds, the streams, the draft, because it is a port very complex, has its shallows and you have to take the center of the canal, according to the wind and streams. You have to be alive with those factors.

“They told me that this was a job for men, 'that cannot be done by a woman, to perch to a ship'.” To which she replied: “I am not a tomboy, I am a temperate woman."

Thus, María Antonia knows the bowels of the ocean, takes refuge in it and takes from its sound the words she needs to understand themselves. “I get up early and go to the roof to talk to it, that's wonderful, the person who talks to the sea and interpenetrates with it is happy, erases everything that saddens; I have to see the sea.”

The waves splash her feet, and in that enjoyment, María stops at the rope, it seems that some fish bit the hook. She smiles and remembers: “I have a fisherman's card; I competed in billfish and made a female group. The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) made agreements with the Fishing Company and they gave us the ships with border guards on board to protect us and we were leaving a few miles near Punta Tomate, Las Azules… ”

To the question of whether she would dare with more than 70 years to get on a boat and anchor it, the answer was to be expected: “Of course, it would be the greatest thing, I have not forgotten the instructions; is that the sea penetrates to the heart, it is so beautiful, and I enjoy it so much.”

Mario Aldana, his companion of more than six decades, has as the only rival that indigo vastness that guards them. María can't let go. It is her oldest and greatest love, it comes from his father, and she has it in her blood.