I did two things for my champagne birthday. I played in an all weekend water polo tournament and then took off for Cuba.
Joey had never been diving down south. He had also never experienced the royalties of an all inclusive resort. My one and only trip to the sunny south had been over Christmas break many years ago for my parents 25th wedding anniversary. Some exotic vitamin D was long overdue.
You know you’re in Cuba when you’re wiggling your toes in the fine grain sand and staring at the clear turquoise ocean water. An exotic land and we had just arrived. For one whole week this world was our oyster. Our resort was located just outside of Varadero, on the Hicacos Peninsula. With 20km of white sand beaches spanning the length of the skinny peninsula, Varadero is first and foremost a tourist town.
We arrived in the rain on a direct flight from Pearson International. A 45 minute bus ride from the airport to our accommodations for the upcoming week passed in the blink of an eye. The resort was a little weathered, not that it bothered us at all, we were more than happy to have escaped the hustle and bustle of Toronto. Having booked our stay outside of peak season and through a relative in the travel agency, we got fairly competitive prices. Because we were there on the off season, the resort had ongoing maintenance on some of the buildings. We lucked out with our room being functional and livable. However other guests we befriended did not hesitate to let us know about their out of commission showers, lights with no bulbs, broken air conditioner and the list goes on. The only unpleasant experience was when I found a cockroach hiding out in the shower. GROSS! My knight in shining armour wasted no time in slaying the beast and putting it outside for the birds to prey on.
I loved watching Joey’s face when he walked into the dining room for the first time to eat. Food, food and more glorious food, laid out on tables as far as the eye could see. Like a fat kid on a smartie, I never seen Joey move so quickly from this station to that station, picking up more than he would ever be able to eat. After eating what felt like the entire buffet we rolled our oompa loompa bodies poolside to rest and digest the copious amount of food we had devoured.
As the afternoon rolled around the pain and bloated feeling from the noon time was gone. We decided to stop in at the poolside restaurant for an early supper. Joey’s disbelief still resonates with me: “You mean we can just eat anything on the menu and we don’t need to pay for it?!” It was like watching a kid find out that Santa Claus exists all over again. Repeatedly during our stay at the resort we visited the restaurant and eventually sampled every meal on the menu.
Over the week we enjoyed living in the lap of luxury. We toured Varadero, the closest city to our resort, numerous times and made friends with a local Cuban, Anders, who kindly designed Cuba badges for our traveling bags. We did some extracurricular adventures through the resorts and took full advantage of the resort’s a la carte restaurants and open bar (tequila, sambuca, banana mama’s oh my!). We even used the air conditioner to it’s fullest potential. Joey loves to sleep in near freezing temperatures (we call our home in Canada the ice palace). One night Joey had cranked the A/C up so high that I woke up shivering cold and had to hunt out and put on every single sweater, pants and socks we had brought with us to stay warm. It was a nice change from the business of downtown Toronto. Joey and I both agree that given the safe and welcoming sensation you have when you are in this country and the reasonable cost we would venture back to this tropical paradise in a heartbeat!
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