19 July 2011

A Caribbean Vacation?! Okay :)

Cuba, April 2008 (Varadero, Part I)

Freezing temperatures, short days, limited sun...there's no denying that our winters seem a little unforgiving and endless at times (which can be fabulous for the frosty outdoor enthusiast). However, the popular trend for many east coast Canadians has been to escape to the sunny south for a week or two.   The islands there offer warm ocean breezes, exciting new culture (music, art, and heritage), inclusive food and beverages, some with cute decorative umbrellas.  Plus a whole lot of sunshine and potentially thousands of possible new friendships from all over the world. 

We had totally been bit by the travel bug during our 2007 Dominican Trip.  So, just as the first snowstorm in January of 2008 dumped a new 30 cm blanket of fresh snow that danced around the outdoor landscape happily in the minus 30 degree Celsius wind-chill winds, Quinnifer and I started planning for our next seasonal getaway.   Cost, flights, ideas, wants, needs ... every factor was considered.  We needed to discover what both of us wanted out of our vacation so that in the end, any expenditure would leave us mutually feeling content and satisfied.

I believe both of us had in our heads that we'd be returning to Dominicana. But with every search, the results kept suggesting the best place for us to visit was, Cuba.  Cuba eh?  Well, neither of us had ever been there and really couldn't find any good reason 'why not'?  So over the next few weeks Quinnifer watched the deals and options and before long she called to share the good news.  "Varadero Cuba, April 2008, 7 day all inclusive".  Yesss. Oh man, did I ever love the sounds of that. Let the countdown begin!! 

It's funny to think back to the events in one's life before booking this vacation and within those few months leading up to departure.  I could've written a country song over that eight month period.   I always try to be a very positive, happy, go-lucky personality, and I know that I'm extremely blessed as I often experience balance in every sector. However, I am human and thus subject to the same tests and trials offered to everyone else.  And as "together" as I might have seemed, I must tell you that during these moments, the highs and lows in my world felt almost unbearable. 

Gosh, where to start.  Late 2007, the place I called home had flooded and I had only 8 hours to pack my things for 6-10 weeks (which included Christmas).  And then to find a place for my ten year old dog, Ellie, as she wasn't allowed to stay where the insurance company had options to place me.  Immediately following that, winter arrived bringing with it above normal snowfall amounts and cold temperatures.

Happiness returned, offering many solid events.  Snowshoeing, moving back to my place, having Ellie return home, booking a Cuban vacation, starting a part time job and spending tons of time with family and friends.  The weeks flew by.  Along with x-ing of the days off the calendar, vacation excitement grew stronger and stronger! 

And then the flip side of the good times reared its ugliness once again. Ellie got sick over Easter (two weeks before our trip).  Only a week later, we sadly said goodbye to my girl :(  ... we had been inseparable from the time I held her in my hand at 10 weeks old.  I was devastated.  Four short days after that, someone decided to break into my car. 

Two days after that and with only one day before departure, my 87 year old Grandfather fell ill and was admitted to the hospital, where he'd spend his final few weeks.  He promised to be right there when I got home (a promise that fortunately God let him keep).  He wanted to hear all about this Cuba experience the moment I got back.  ... indeed a life relative to that of a country song.

If ever I needed a vacation, it might have been right then ... but it took everything I had to board that plane. 

I had spent the weeks prior packing my suitcase (thankfully).  Filling it with all sorts of tropical items: flip flops ("thongs" I guess they call them in Australia), sunscreen, dresses, skirts, bathing suits, along with gifts for the housekeeping and resort staff.  And although the excitement that was usual before pre-flight had been absent, the second I took my seat on that plane, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.  :)

Upon arrival, I was reassured over and over that I had made the right decision.  The fresh tropical smell that greeted me the second I stepped off the plane, the voices that kept singing out "hola" and the many friendly faces and smiles that continually welcomed us, I needed this.  We arrived at Melia Las Antillas, Varadero Cuba, shortly after midnight.  Check in was fast, friendly and so efficient that within only minutes of arriving, we were escorted to our room. 

The room was fabulous.  Two twin beds, a couple of stairs to step down into our seating area.  This lead to the patio doors, where we'd find our isolated and private deck just on the other side of the glass.  We got settled and decided that we'd wait until daylight before exploring the resort. 

Varadero, Cuba!!  Who'd have ever thought. :)

The results from the Weekly Survey Question:  ever been to Cuba? An overwhelming 75% of you haven't made it to this destination yet.

So since you're right here with me now, might as well stay along for the adventure!  The white sand beach (all 20+ km's of it), the crystal clear turquoise warm salt water, the pools, the walkways, the shops, the activity club and the people!!  I would love for you to meet a couple of memorable guys from the beach and the lobby's front door. The bartenders: Amilcar and Tatiana. And my dear Heidy. :) Yes, a Cuban "Heidi" our favourite waitress.

Oh there's more.  Think about how humorous the phrase "I mean it" can be if you placed it after most things you said!! Haha.  Hilarious!  Then there's the interesting letters and flowers I received, the trip to Habana ("Havana"), Cuba's Capital City and a sad story of how I was held hostage in our room for 3 long days (by a parasite of all things)! 

So listen, I'll save you a seat right here...

...and within a week, if you're ready, you can join us on vacation in Varadero, Cuba.  Just look for the post entitled:  Visiting a postcard ... welcome to Cuba!!!!

Share your comments, your stories, your travel advice etc. in the section below (comments or reaction section) and give your answer to the weekly survey (top right of the blog page).  No sign up necessary, just a simple click :)  A little shy?!  Why not send me an email instead: holidayheidi@hotmail.ca.

~Holiday Heidi

1 comment:

  1. Miss Heidi, yes indeed - you were supposed to be sitting on that plane!!!! Alot of headaches and sadness came to you in too close of a time...That's what makes you the strong and loving person you are today!!!!! (thanks for the heads up on the tissues) :-P
    You must have VERY big pockets, because we all love following your adventure and your story telling puts us right next to you catching hold of your hand <3 oxoxoxox