3 October 2011

Of Love or Peanuts...Dear Cuba, I must go Home!

Cuba, April 2008 (Varadero, Part V)

So there I sit amongst the hand-picked flowers and mysterious paper ball.  After a few moments I remember that Duardo had brought us beverages, I then got up to find my drink.  I figured after all this, I needed a little sip (half a glass, maybe a little more), who wouldn’t?! :) We continued to get ready for dinner.  With about 15 minutes to spare, I thought it was time to see what was in that ball of paper.  I was pale … and yet, somehow flush at the same time?!  Is that even possible?

One piece of paper led to another…and then another…and yet another. Oh wow!  Duardo had obviously spent the time between 5pm, when we were thought to have been back, until we actually arrived back at 7pm, to write me a letter.  Inside this full page letter were about 25 tiny pieces of paper, little one line notes.  Oh my, what beautiful things he had written.  However, after I’d read the first few, I was sure he was hoping that I’d ask for more than a beer.  … “beer” … “boyfriend” … yeah, if you say them fast, and after a few tropical mixes they could sound the same. ;)

Rock Lobster in a rich
delicious sauce 
We made our way to dinner.  Once seated we learned that Friday nights were “Seafood nights”, in addition to the regular a la carte menu.  Sweet!  What an interesting day. :)  Food comes in courses when you order and I noted after the salad (the first course), I was struggling to continue.  By the time my rock lobster (the main course) was set in front of me; I couldn’t do much more than just stare at it.  Who is this, surely not me?!  I eat, always.  And I eat well.  And I love seafood.  Sadly, I didn’t even have the strength to pick up and hold my fork.

I kept apologizing to the wait staff for not being able to finish what I’d ordered (so very bizarre).  As soon as the desserts were finished, we decided that we’d walk across the small courtyard to say good-night to Heidy who was working the buffet.  As soon as she spotted us she came right over to greet us.  Instantly she asked if I was feeling alright, to which I replied honestly, “absolutely not”.  “One moment” she says, and off she went to make me a cup of tea that should make me feel better.  What a sweetheart.

Within 20 minutes Quinnifer and I were back in the courtyard enjoying the sights and sounds of a quiet resort evening in Cuba.  What serenity:  laughter from afar, nocturnal insects gleefully chiming, dishes being cleared from tables, music rising up and mixing with the cigar-smoke filled sky.  It was definitely a moment, but only ‘A MOMENT’!

With my eyes as large as hockey pucks, shedding water like an overfilled rain bucket, I turn to Quinn with a look of horror.  I can’t describe to you the instant panic and pain that simultaneously shook my entire body!  But I can assure you, I never, EVER want to experience a moment like this again.

Within a split second I grabbed the edges of my skirt with my hands clenched on each side, lifting it slightly for fear I’d trip. I could think of nothing else as I somehow managed to get one foot in front of the other putting my dressy shoes to the test.  I bolted across the resort grounds like my life depended on it. Well, honestly, my life did depend on it.

I needed to get to our resort room; I needed to be there already.  It was only with shear heartache, that when I reached the door I then realized that my key had been left inside this evening.  :(  I must wait here until I am rescued, thankfully helped arrived within seconds. 

Once inside the confines of that room, I will remind you here that what happens on vacation will stay on vacation (you should be thankful).  But honestly, in my whole life I’ve never been as sick as I was this Friday night in Cuba.  O.M.G.  I was hot, I was cold.  I shook, I was dehydrated, I crawled on my hands and knees and I eventually became one with the little girl’s room (trapped inside those four walls behind a closed door unable to escape for hours).  I have never experienced stomach pain so deep or so vicious.

I now required 24/7 supervision.  Thus ruining the vacation of my travel companion, who was now my very own personal care attendant.  I thought I was going to die.  I ate every bit of stomach control medication we had brought with us and I still needed more.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t even talk for nearly two full days. Here I am in a tropical paradise, the outside weather in the mid 30’s (Celsius) and I’m cocooned in 4 heavy blankets, blankets that Quinnifer had to convince the hotel staff to let her bring back to the room.  What was this?!

There’s a rule when you travel, especially if you have a delicate stomach (I wasn’t aware I had such a thing until this moment, great timing) but if you’re staying on a resort, eat their food.  If you’re taking an excursion, pack a snack from the resorts buffet.  I know it sounds like common sense, but if you get hungry and there’s food available, you may become tempted.  Seems I had somehow contracted a parasite which would continue to cause me great illness long after I returned home.

Retracing my Havana day (and my eating habits) I can recall the most likely fateful moment.  At the Capital Building, I was starving (which isn’t uncommon for me).  There was this sweet little lady over where the buses park (further than the left in this picture) selling coins and paper packs of peanuts.  “3 Packs of Peanuts for 1 Peso” “3 Packs of Peanuts for 1 Peso” she continually sang out.  As I stepped up in to the bus I couldn’t resist the urge, I was so hungry.  I passed her a peso; she smiled as she passed me my 3 packs, in a homemade paper tube, of pre-shelled peanuts.  “red flag” …

There are other possible places for this parasite to have become part of my “all inclusive” experience truthfully.  I did brush my teeth with the tap water (don’t do this).  I did eat all kinds of new and interesting foods (but I do this all the time and will continue to try) but I guess some things may have been questionable (try to eat only things that you can peel, don’t eat the outer skins of fruits for example).  I did enjoy fresh coconut milk, (this seemed safe) which can, on extremely rare occasions, cause some people problems (suppose if it could happen, it’s likely that it’ll happen to me haha).  You know though, I didn’t think about a parasite with any of those things … and certainly not when I was inhaling those delicious home-packed, pre-shelled peanuts … they were peanuts right?!

For the next two and a half days (the remainder of our stay), if I wasn’t bedridden, I was definitely limited.  By Sunday, day before departure day, we thought it best that I seek medical attention.  Fortunately our resort had such services on site so off we went.  You’re kidding?!  As tears stung the corners of my eyes while wearing a smile that only appears in moments of disbelief, I just stood there staring at the sign in the hot afternoon Cuban sun.  The paper displayed in the window of the medical centre’s door clearly read, “CLOSED SUNDAYS”.  What? Really?!

I hate to do this to you ... but each post can only be a 7 minute read (a little vicarious mini-vacation).  Cuba's final chapter will be ready for you to enjoy shortly, Until we meet again Varadero ... :).  I obviously made it home, I'm here telling the tales, but what do you do when the medical centre's closed?  Seriously?  And what about that front lobby security guard ... haha, you won't believe it!! Perhaps we'll get to see Duardo again before leaving (I'm sure we will)?! Keep your bags packed and stay healthy!!

Weekly Survey Question:  ever gotten sick while travelling?
Getting sick while on holidays is awful!  So far, 52% of you haven’t experienced this and a lucky 17% have only been slightly ill.  However, 31% of you know exactly what getting horribly sick, while not at home, feels like.  Get travel insurance, it’s an investment … you just never know.

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 this blog page).  No sign up necessary, just a simple click :) A little shy?!  Why not EMAIL me?

~Holiday Heidi
(be sure to check out Your Adventure Map (at the top of this page) so you can read all previous adventure posts leading up to this one)

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie wrote:
    "OMG - I heard you tell the story about the peanuts but to relive it through your story OMG !!!

    I promise to pack a lunch if leaving a resort!!!!!It's too bad this had to happen on your holiday but I'm sure it will NEVER happen again. I'm sure you too will pack a lunch for your next trip !!!

    I hate the 7 minute read - I wanted to read more - but I guess I'll have to wait until the next 7 minute read (I just wish you could write a 30 minute read):-P

    The note you got was too cute :-) AND the note on the clinic - NOT GOOD !!! Can't wait to read about the rest of your adventures ♥"