Trip Report Varadaro, Cuba Part 1

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Escrito por Larry in Duncan desde ( el día martes, 22 de febrero, 2005 a las 17:14:34 horas :

Rob, thanks for your blessing to post a trip report of my adventure to Varadaro, Cuba Feb 7 to 14 / 05.

Karen and I had been talking a lot about getting out of Dodge City (Duncan, B.C.) for a week. Last minute specials seemed to be the only affordable way for us to make it work. The house renovations have been expensive. (don't tell Karen I said that) So I started cruising the net. One special after another passed to places like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cancun and even Las Vegas. The locat1on didn't really matter. This time was 100 % about price and just getting away from work and business. So on Friday Feb 4 I booked a little trip to Varadaro, $800 each and our eight month old daughter Alayna traveled for free.

Feb 6. Its Superbowl Sunday and we are putting the final touches on packing. Gotta get out of town and on a ferry tonight for our 9:15 am flight in the morning. Being on Vancouver Island, more often than not requires traveling over to Vancouver the night before. We have booked a room at the Travellodge just off Bridgeport Rd in Richmond. $69.00 bucks a night but the bonus is we can park there for free for the week. Considering that Park'n'Fly is $70.00 for the week I'm thinking cha-ching, money in my jeans.

Feb 7. I don't care what anyone says, 5:30 am is to early for me unless I'm going fishing. I don't fish. Off to YVR we go. I locate the Conquest Vacation counter to get our tickets. We are flying Air Canada (not my favorite) direct to Varadaro. I sort of made a few off the cuff comments to the girls at Conquest about A/C, none of them complimentary. But sure enough, when we got to the A/C check in counter I was served my breakfast, a bit fat piece of humble pie. (a la mode to boot) The A/C agent immediately got to work on securing 3 seats together for us even though we were only entitled to two seats and Alayna was to be a lap baby for the six hour flight. Once he found seats he had a supervisor black the third seat out so it could not be used by anyone and so Alayna had her own space to sleep, sit and play. The flight was very full so A/C really did a great service for us. So I got a free breakfast as well, humble pie.

Our flight was on time and uneventful. Cuban immigration and customs was smooth. I changed some money while waiting for our luggage. We found our bus quickly for the transfer to the hotel. The Varadaro airport is small and easy to navigate.

My one and only 'moment of concern' happened on the bus ride to the hotel. Our bus was flagged to stop by a policeman under an overpass in a very dimly lit intersection. Huhhhmmmm, this isn't good. Several other policemen were milling about. I think this is trouble. As it turns out our driver was speeding and received a ticket. Okay, things are cool but the shakedown now will be to have everyone 'pass the hat' for the ticket right????? Wrong! No shakedown, no communist conspiracy. We carried on our way like it never happened. I don't want to say I was totally expecting it but this situation was ripe for plucking a couple bucks from the gringo's. Just then I burped and got an aftertaste from the large serving of pie I had earlier in the day. Oh crap, have I judged Cuba and its people already? A note to myself, don't do that again. Not nice. I have enough prejudices that I carry around with me and certainly don't need more.

Karen, Alayna and I arrived at Playa Caleta (formerly Superclub Puntarena) just before 9 pm and as described by the bus driver "Cuban Standard Time". Loosely translated, four hours ahead of PST and one hour ahead of EST. Check in was quick and easy. In room safes cost $2.00 Cuban Convertible Peso's (CCP) per day and the safe along with the door locks were of the card 'n' swipe type which is a nice security feature. Our room featured the largest (and hardest) king size bed I have ever seen and a crib for Alayna. Everything in the bathroom worked, there were lots of towels and the closet had room to stash my golf clubs away. Most importantly, the room was clean, clean, clean. During our stay we had one fly and one insect 'off unknown parentage' in our room. Being that Karen and I are both bug haters and can kill a flea with a shoe from 65 feet, the lack of visiting critters was comforting. No bugs present means no bugs need get hurt.

After a quick unpack we headed downstairs for some grub. (more on the food later) I could hear the waves washing up on the beach as we munched on some fresh fruit. Yummy. But the sound of the waves drew us to the beach. More importantly, Alayna was never had her feet in the ocean. (we live 4 miles for the ocean, sad eh) It was time. Off with her shoes and off with her socks, all the while Alayna studied this ocean thing cautiously. The three of us waded in a little, oh how good the ocean feels. Karen slowly lowered Alayna closer to the water, bare toes first. Ah the moment my happy, smiling little girl first gets her feet wet in the Caribbean waters. This will be a moment to treasure forever I thought to myself. I felt so much love for Alayna right then. I felt so proud of Karen and our new little family in that we could share a moment like this together. I thought of all the people who gave me an "are you crazy" look when I told them we were taking our eight month old daughter to Cuba with us. I thought that this moment would be the first of so many treasured moments with my darling daughter, my daughter that Karen was holding just above the water. I felt a thousand angels dancing in my heart........................

As Alayna's tiny little bare toes hit the water and sand she let out the loudest, most blood curdling scream of satanic terror that could every be summoned from a set of lungs in a 22 pound body. I thought maybe we had baptized the child in battery acid. Karen removed her from the water and back up the beach about 20 feet and calmed her down. Within 30 seconds she was settled but Alayna never took her eyes off the waves. She wasn't going near the water again, the expression on her face told the whole story.
..............Hey, wait a minute.......Where did the dancing angels go?

Welcome to the beach resort of Varadaro, Cuba.

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