Christina and I didn’t consider pre-booking our seats since it wasn’t a priority, but little did we know we’d be surrounded by families of 4 or more. So, we weren’t able to sit next to each other on the flight to Santa Maria Cuba.
Sitting alone wasn’t too bad…I switched around a bit so that a young girl could sit with her parents. That led me to meet 4 wonderful people – Peter, Louela, their daughter Hannah & her best friend Kyla.
Peter and I had an intellectual conversation about books, and what I studied at Carleton during my MA. At first I really didn’t mind him picking my brain, but as time passed I began to feel exhausted. Luckily, this led to Louela (Hannah’s mom), who is currently working on her PhD, to offer me a freelance editing position with her. WHO KNEW?! Networking on planes does pay off! However, I left my personal business cards at home. Figures.
Off the plane, and exhausted. Our flight arrived late into the night, but that didn’t stop the one on one security check by Cuban guards prior to entering Cuba. Christina went before me, and passed through after a 5 minute scrutinizing. All I could think was, “I’m not a felon. Please, please let me in. I cannot be rejected or left alone”. Thankfully, after a stare down of my passport, I was allowed in. Phew.
Once we’d arrived at the resort – following a
1.5 hr bus ride – Christina and I were left to our own devices. Yes, they gave us hotel information on the bus with room keys, but we had NO idea how to get to our room! We ventured, and ventured…until finally in the dark – amongst a bunch of cursing, stray cats, and under a pitch black sky – we found our rooms.
That night we realized that some of our bed-side lights weren’t working…hmmm. No big deal. We went to sleep. Of course we spend the ENTIRE first day lounging on the beach, and sleeping. I was in a state of delirium. With the application of sunscreen every so often, and drinking lots of water – we began to enjoy Santa Maria, Cuba. That evening, once we returned to our room, we realized that now NON of the lights were working. The sun setting and it being just the 2 of us, I made up a fictional, yet logical tale as to why this was happening: “Electricity must be expensive in Cuba, so they probably turned off our power during the day. No one stays in their rooms anyway!”
Christina called the front desk – a couple of hours of lounging later – and it went, sort of like this, “Hello, our lights aren’t working is that normal?” “What?” “Is it normal for our power to not be working?” “No” – Haha, well there goes my theory. Someone came and re-set our electrical breaker box. Then, we showered.
Since Christina and I don’t look our age – we usually get about 19 years old on a good day (rather than our real age 24/25) – people were shocked that we travelled to Cuba alone. Without our parents. It was so bizarre to interact with people prior to explicitly informing them of our ages. So, I began introducing myself as “Hi, I’m Daniela and I’m 24. How old are you?” Why not? I’m so honest anyway.
The worst drink of my life was made specially for me that night. One of the Cuban Bartenders had a crush of me, and promised to make the best drink I’d ever tasted. The worst part was that he chose a liquor that I like the least – tequila. I’m more of a spiced rum kinda woman, so drinking a mixed drink that was straight up tequila with some mint leaves definitely made me gag. My adventurous self kept it and consented that it was good, but then I shared it, and Andrew’s reaction was the same. I couldn’t be the only one who had tasted that concoction! It was far too nasty.
We were informed that you had to make dinner reservations at one of the restaurants NYE, including the Buffet, but they were all going to have the same set menu. Little did we know that the buffet was going to remain a buffet, so when we heard “set dinner” we decided not to waste 1 of our 3 A La Carte reservations. We chose the buffet. Fancified and in heels we had to peruse the buffet and serve ourselves…Haha, what a let down. We did get free champagne though.
What I will say is that we loved the time we spent at the Melia Cayo and had a shit-ton of laughs. We made lifelong friends with other people from Toronto, and most of the staff. YES, we get it, they are called the Entertainment Staff for a reason, but we loved them none the less, and they really added to the entire experience of our trip. When asked if we’d go back, both Christina and I would say yes.
I miss the sun, the beach, the Cuban people – not so much the food, but they DID HAVE potato croquettes – and most of all the time I spent with Christina one on one. Nor can the song Big Bamboo by The Hyltonaires – a song on loop at the resort filled with Black Penis innuendoes – ever be forgotten.
Let’s do it again next year! xo