After weeks of orientations, Spanish Classes, ripping my hair out and doing my exams early, it was onward to Cuba. My mom helped me with packing, my father helped me with reminding me about the simple things like: If you go out with friends and leave your drinks at the table, do not drink it. Do not get into a strange car (which makes only some sense since all cars in Cuba are strange cars), do not break any laws – Cuba is a communist country and I would NOT survive their prison and the big one was, do not talk anything political–that is not why you’re there.
The flight down was your typical flight only there was a different kind of excitement in me. It wasn’t the happy I got when I was going to Jamaica. It was the kind of happy that made me want to flail, scream, run along the aisle of the plane (which since 9-11 you must never do) but I sat still and freaked out about the queasiness in my head as the plane rose and dropped altitude. Finally, we landed in Cuba. Going through customs wasn’t a pain like it is in other places. We joined a line behind a red line and waited our turn. Then we entered this little area, stood back and handed over our passport.
They asked us a couple of questions, read our passport, handed us this piece of paper. Once that was done, they welcomed us to Cuba, in amazing English, and told us to go through the other door. We waited a couple of minutes for our bags but that wasn’t any big deal. The first issue arose for me when I used the bathroom and there was no toilet paper. *gasp*
*shrugs* Big deal. I used the bathroom, stayed there a little longer than normal, and then washed my hands and exited to join the rest of the group. Before I go any further I must speak with you about our amazing, fantabulous, overly awesome guy, Ron from the Urban Farmer. This man worked so hard for us. He translated everything because even though I speak Spanish, when the Cubans are ready to really speak–they are like a The Flash. He ensured we had a place to stay, all our food was made, laundry got done, our ride around the country was set up, meeting all the farmers, going to a baseball game, finding the mall–he was invaluable to us. I wanted to take him home but someone explained to me there were laws against that *sigh* So alas, I had to go home without the Urban Farmer.
Back on track.
Our ride from the airport into Varedero was a mgic school bus. Yes my friends, we were rollin’ down the street, takin’ pictures, sipping on water and juice – with our minds on our Cuba and Cuba on our minds in a yellow school bus. Why is this bus important? It is called the Peace Bus and was donated to the centre we were working with by American and Canadian entities.
You could not believe how happy I was. In my mind all I kept thinking was “OMG! I’m in Cuba!” While snapping pictures of everything.
I took videos and pictures but most importantly I was just trying desperately to soak it all in. Our driver, for the life of me I cannot remember his name, but he was amazing. He refitted the magic school bus with amazing novelty horns. But most importantly, he had amazing music playing like Barry White and John Lennon and we didn’t care but we burst out singing, at the top of our lungs. Our bus even got mooned by a half drunk groom to be from their bus speeding by ours toward Varedero….Oh, good times that — Not!
Colourful homes lined part of the way, followed by fields and part of the way the ocean. The wind was
blowing over my face and through my hair and I couldn’t remember being happier. I was in a communist country, six hours away from my home and I was over the moon. I had this smile on my face others probably thought made me nuts but I didn’t care.
We didn’t stay at a resourt. We stayed at CERESE or what the locals lovingly called it Casa De Carino. You would NOT believe this place. The beach was right across the road. Around the property were markets that you can buy little knick-knacks for friends to take home and the mall was a little five minute walk away. This place is in the perfect location that gave us the best of all the world around us. The women and men working here treated us with the utmost respect and always had a smile that did something to me. Each morning I woke up and got dressed for breakfast I was looking forward to see them. These were strangers and I couldn’t wait to see them again. Breakfast was lovely. The food was better than food I’d ever had in a foreign country. Everything was freshly made from the juice to the bread. I didn’t have soda the whole time I was there and I didn’t miss it at all.
Every morning we woke up, I would fill my water bottle for the day because newsflash, CUBA IS HOT! lol. I would stop to take pictures of the table. I took pictures of every meal I had before I start eating and after I finish eating. Strange–yes I know–but I love to see how much food I ate… especially when the food is yummy.
Note – Food is always a touchy subject. For example people are picky eaters, allergic to stuff, just don’t like other things or couldn’t be caught dead eating other things.
If you are an overly picky eater, Cuba may not be the place for you. Or if it is, you may want to stay at a resort. A Casa De Particular (as they call them) is not for you. Resorts ensure you have food you know and are used to. If you are not adventurous with your food, stay on a resort. With where we stayed, we were eating everything. One night we had fish. It was a LARGE salmon caught that day, backed with herbs and spices along with rice and black beans with soup, fresh fruit juice, plantains and a kind of root that they fried with a sprinkling of salt.
Very very yummy!
**Please note, all pictures contained in this post was taken by me.