Thursday, 1 October 2015

Varadero 2015 (Part 2)

Day 2, 3 and 4:

Housekeeping towel art in the bathroom
Not gonna lie. The next few days were a bit of a blur. Yes, in part it was because I was in a constant  buzz from all that sweet alcohol; but also because there was certain monotony in staying within the confinements of a resort and not have much more to do but relax. I guess I'm too used to being busy and moving around, always running against the clock.

That second day (and first morning spent in the hotel) was a lazy day. I had told my family I was planning on sleeping in and that I was going to miss breakfast.
It doesn't come as a surprise that at 8:30am my dad called my room and asked if "I was ready". I said "No. I'm sleeping and I'm not planing on leaving my bed anytime soon". He bugged me a little and then eventually let me rest. Half an hour later, Daniel comes to my room to pick up my sister. Finally after 9:20am I was able to fall asleep again. After 11am however I realized I could stay in bed the whole day but I wasn't going to fall asleep again. So I decided to get dressed and have some lunch before exploring a bit the surroundings. I was still half full from the night before, so I was a little more conscientious about what I was putting on my plate.

My sister and I having a pina colada and a margarita.

My mom, Daniel, Claudia and my dad.

As I sat alone eating my lunch and reading my book, a waiter stood next to me and read aloud "Wild". I looked up and saw his expectant gaze, not sure what he wanted me to say. Finally I replied "Si. 'Wild'". I could have asked "Have you seen the movie?" or "Have you heard of it?" or "Reese Witherspoon is in the movie!", but I wasn't quite sure how much the locals knew of pop culture in North America, or if they knew who Reese Witherspoon was. So I just smiled and went to refill my coffee.

It seemed very deceiving what the employees of these hotels knew of us and what they were allowed to know. I somehow felt like I shouldn't be sharing more information than I should. Later on I found out that many of the employees (if not all of them) were painfully aware of their situation, but there was some sense of national pride that wouldn't allow them express those feelings. And all of them also seemed hopeful for a brighter future after the U.S. Embassy had just opened not too long ago in the Havana. Soon the barriers that were built over 60 years ago would be brought down and families would reunite, tourism would grow immensely and the people would be able to choose their life, even if that means to stay.

When I found my parents by the pool bar and told them about this waiter trying to have a conversation with me, my dad said "You know, I'm sure these guys can take you on a date if you pay them. That's probably what he wanted. Don't think it's because of your good looks". I wish I had a  bigger hand to do a majestic facepalm. "That was not the point, dad!", was all I could say. And before I could think more of it, my sister and her boyfriend came walking from the beach. I hadn't been to the beach yet, but I had another 7 days to do so. I wasn't in a rush.

The Pool bar

Varadero beach

The airline that flies you to Varadero from Canada is called Sunwing, and they offer you all kinds of city tour deals once you arrive to Cuba. A touristic agent had arranged a small meeting with some of us to talk about these touring packages regarding cost and availability. I had heard that going to the Havana from Varadero was a little expensive, so I really hadn't bothered to look it up. But we had traveled in slow season, it seemed, so prices were lower than usual. There was the possibility to actually visit Cuba's capital city, after all! A quick family meeting resolved in going to the Havana over the weekend, however my uncle Hugo suggested in renting a cab and taxi driver for the day and visit Havana by ourselves. We didn't mind the freedom of not following a schedule, so we decided to go for it.
The trip was still a couple of days away, so in the meantime we could just roam in the hotel and go from buffets to pools to the beach. That night the hotel offered an outdoors show full with Cuban music and dances. It was beautiful. Decadent Cuban dancers with the most athletic bodies gave a colourful performance on the history of Cuban music. After the show, the dancers and singers came down from the stage to try to sell you their CDs. My dad believes in supporting traditional performing arts, so he got a copy.

Cuban Nights show

The next 2 days were spent between the beach and my book. I also found out that wi-fi was actually available for CUC 2 per hour. The Convertible Cuban peso (or CUC) is comparable to the euro, so it was only a little more expensive than our Canadian currency. I was able to buy an Internet card for 1 hour one of those days, however the Internet service wasn't very stable. It came and went every other day. It was frustrating not being able to use wi-fi, but I hadn't come to Cuba to bury my nose in my phone. I could do that at home (where the Internet was more reliable anyway!). The funny thing was that the Internet wouldn't not only NOT work in our hotel, but in the rest of the peninsula. So even attempting going to the local market to use their Internet Cafe was futile. Maybe it was the government's way to regulate internet usage in the island. Who knows.

Daniel applying sunscreen after he already gained some colour (the lobster colour LOL)

Chilling at the beach :)

I've never seen anybody of that age sleeping so peacefully at the beach under a nice umbrella.

Paramedics chilling on the shore just in case!

My sister Claudia her boyfriend Daniel and I visited the local market a couple of times. They had a bank in there, 3 restaurants, a tobacco store, the before mentioned Internet cafe, a small supermarket, a bookstore, a post office, a pharmacy, and many boutique stores that sold bathing suits, beach dresses, shirts and hats. I got a post card for my friend Maria who now lives in England. I also bought a six pack of Bavaria beer to keep in my mini fridge in my hotel room. You cannot deny yourself European beer even if your hotel is an all-inclusive. Specially when it's so cheap!

On our way to the market.

Posing in the little "train" before leaving to the market

Claudia and Daniel buying souvenirs

Back in our hotel room, and sharing the beers with my dad, Daniel and my mom, we started talking about Havana, and how our relatives from Peru were going to be in the hotel by the time we came back from our little tour. We were excited to see them after at least a year.
When we started planning this trip, we hoped most of our family in Peru would be able to make it to the Caribbean. But in the end only 3 of my relatives were able to make the trip. Regardless it was going to be an amazing reunion and we could not wait to hear all the gossip we were missing from our homeland.

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