Cuba Day One - Departure

We have been counting down to this day since before Christmas. I enjoy the anticipation and have been checking out the hotel we have booked, the surrounding areas and possible excursions. Rori and I have 'walked' through the Starfish Varadero resort on Google Maps, Tripadvisor and watched Youtube videos posted by others, We have come up with a list of things we plan to do:
  • Find the 'Three Ladies in a Canoe,'
  • Figure out what that big round, open area in the middle of the resort is.
  • See if we can explore the jungle surrounding the resort
Sure, that is my list. Rori's list is more like this:
  • Swim with the dolphins
  • Buy souvenirs for her friends
  • See the Beatles Restaurant in Varadero
'Swim in the ocean,' is on everyone's list.

Packing seemed a little more rushed than on previous trips. We all had somethings ready to go long before today. The ladies bought new swimsuits and beach shoes, the usual. We also packed a lot of things to leave with the locals. Rori has outgrown many things that Cuban girls will love. We all have clothes and shoes that we will give away. It is similar to the church project to pull together Christmas bags for 150 local homeless men. (If you are interested in helping with this effort be sure to ask Brenda what they need for the bags.) The difference with Cuba is that it is hard to be sure what they really need and want.

On a previous trip I saw a local couple playing cards with a deck that consisted of hand drawn pieces of paper. Doug was able to get a couple dozen used decks of cards from the casino and we threw them in the suitcase. Sure, it is not the necessities but it is something they appreciate and can't get down there.

My Tilley hat, cool sunglasses, cargo shorts and a long sleeve white shirt sat in the almost empty suitcase for weeks. However, time slipped away and here it is, the last day, and I find myself second guessing what I should take. On previous trips the grounds on resorts were poorly lit at night and we tripped on uneven pavement and couldn't see the path to the beach on our late night beach walks. I bought a compact, powerful flashlight for just those occasions. I'm ready!

I love the anticipation that builds up to vacations like this and yesterday it got real. Yesterday was my last day of work before our trip and the weather conditions was as far from Caribbean as one can imagine.

Here we are staring the drive to Toronto where we will stay overnight before boarding a plane, really early tomorrow morning. The weather forecast called for freezing rain and slushy, sloppy, slippy snow. Damn, Cuba is going to feel good.
This is the beginning of our Cuban vacation. 
We make it safely to a comfortable room at the Day's Inn. Rori likes the fancy little bathroom and we all settle in for a short sleep before catching the plane tomorrow morning. Early tomorrow morning.

As I often do, I went for a walk in the surrounding neighborhood just to explore. The stores were predictably suburban Canadian with a Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Money Mart and a restaurant, with its name in huge red letters, 'Bad Axe Throwing' (more about that later). But it wasn't about the stores.
What struck me was how extra cold it felt, The cutting wind was snapping sharp, the air was damp and bit at my cheeks. The anonymous roaring noise of the busy night traffic made it seem colder on a whole other level. It was painful to walk but it made me smile. Tomorrow was going to be so very different. Tomorrow night, around the same time, I will night on the beach in Varadero and appreciate the contrast.

This is where we stayed for the first night of our Cuban vacation. What you can't appreciate from this photo is the snapping cold and the biting wind. 


  1. Looking forward to your pictures and stories about the "Three Ladies In A Canoe" and Rori's pictures and stories about the "Beatles Restaurant".

    And just what WAS "that big round, open area in the middle of the resort"? My guess is it was a "crop circle". WAS it a "crop circle"? Do they HAVE "crop circles" in Cuba?


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