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Livin’ la Vida Cuba – Travel Babble Sat. Feb. 12, 2005

on March 10, 2013

I am taking an Organizational Behaviour course at the University of Alberta this weekend. Daylight Saving Time kicked-in this weekend and in an effort to ensure I was on-time, I set ahead the clock on my phone when I went to bed last night. My iPhone jumped ahead to DST because I didn’t disable that part of the time settings. So I was up an hour earlier than needed. Good excuse to post another Travel Babble message rather than lament the lost sleep.

The following is the only travel babble message I sent while in Cuba in 2005.

And off we go…

Hey all,
I arrived in Varadero, Cuba on Thursday evening. The weather was beautiful when we landed. We arrived at our hotel to find that it was overbooked…oops. But, as compensation, Janet and I were given a huge suite for one night. The bathroom was bigger than I’ve ever seen – with a Jaccuzi tub, two sinks and a bidet. The hotel room was quite nice but we couldn’t quite figure out how to work the thermostat so we ended up requiring the extra blankets and wore layers the whole time we were in the hotel room.

We were moved to our permanent room late yesterday. It is smaller but still has a fairly nice bathroom, a view of the pool area, and most importantly, it is warm and the safe works. Wahoo! No more carrying around ALL of our important documents.

Yesterday was quite cool, even the locals were wearing sweaters and jackets, so Janet and I didn’t look too silly in our sweaters. We went into Varadero on a double-decker bus (very neat) and we sat on the top level, which doesn’t have a roof and at times was quite windy up there but what an amazing view. Cuba is surrounded by water and isn´t very wide so you can pretty much see water all the time. Cuba´s population is 11.5 million total and the whole island could probably fit into Alberta 5x but so far I haven’t really felt overcrowded.

Something else that struck me as odd..there are tons of French people here – from Quebec and France. So I am struggling with language as my thoughts switch from English to French and a bit of Spanglish thrown in for good measure. I took one year of Spanish at university but am finding that it’s not coming back as quickly as
it did when I was in Mexico. I hope to have a better handle on it by the time our holiday is over. We spent a bit of time with a group of Quebecers our first night. Our resort, sadly, is of an older age demographic. Most of the guests play cards at night.

There is nightly entertainment organized by the hotel staff and last night we watched a “boy band” concert. It was pretty good and the members of the band had some interesting dance moves that made us laugh out loud.

Today we started our day at 7:00 a.m. as we are on a full day tour of Havana. By bus, Havana is about two hours from Varadero. We spent the bulk of the day in old Havana, which is beautiful, with tons of old buildings, beautiful Spanish architecture, quaint little streets and a huge outdoor market. We went on a
tour of the rum factory and tried (but didn’t finish) a sample of six-year-old rum (yikes! strong stuff) and visited a cigar store. Our guide, Hector, is great. He´s extremely knowledgeable and humourous, too (Janet adds he has sparkling white teeth and pretty brown eyes). I have written six pages on notes on all the history and Cuba tidbits he´s shared…I would share it with you right now, but I´m paying quite a bit to send this e-mail. 🙂

The most challenging experience for today was being approached by locals wanting to sell us illegal cigars, asking us for pens (apparently there´s a huge shortage), asking us for money, trying to sell us weird stuff and to top it all off, one man followed Janet and me for about 10 minutes because he either wanted to buy Janet’s Birks or wanted my key clip thingy. He pointed out that he had a Canada pin that matched my Canada flag.

Next up, we get to share a room with six people from our tour as we get ready for dinner and Cuba´s popular show, Tropicana – an outdoor dance performance. At least it’s warm today, but we came prepared with two or three layers each.

Last note…

Unfortunately, I think I´ve developed a bit of dislike for some of the Canadians holidaying here. For example, we were changing over our money at the bank yesterday. Rather than lining up inside the bank, people line up outside and a guard lets you know when you can enter the bank, where you wait in a shorter line to see a teller. Well, as we were leaving the bank, one tourist started mouthing off the guard. The tourist was likely Canadian (no obvious accent). Completely shocking – one that a Canadian would behave in such a way (he wasn’t drunk) and two that anyone would act that way when the guard controls whether you get into the bank to get money. Dumb.

On that note, it is time to face the challenge of strangers peeing in my bathroom.

Take care,
Narmin (and Janet since she commented a few times)

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2 responses to “Livin’ la Vida Cuba – Travel Babble Sat. Feb. 12, 2005

  1. […] I am taking an Organizational Behaviour course at the University of Alberta this weekend. Daylight Ssource […]

  2. […] are some pics to accompany my post about my trip to Cuba in 2005. Again, I apologize as the quality is not ideal for some of the […]

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