My week in Paradise

I have just spent the most relaxing week of my life in Paradise, also known as Cuba. If you’ve never been there, please, drop everything and go right now. I’ll wait. ( … ) See what I mean? Amazing, right?

I left with my mom last Thursday for what had to be the longest day of traveling ever for a 4 hour flight. Just to give you an idea, we left home around 9:30 am and got to the hotel around 10:30 pm. But everything went smoothly, so it’s all good.

When we first got there, it was dark and my mom did not want to go to the beach. I think she was afraid of sharks or lizards or axe murderers. We explored the hotel a little and we didn’t really know what to think. There weren’t many people there and it felt like a ghost hotel. Like Hotel California, which, incidentally, played on repeat all week.

The next morning, however, we woke up to this.

The beach was incredible. White sand, clear turquoise water, even a few crabs. It felt like being in a postcard. There were a couple of piers not too far away, so we decided to walk over and check them out. Afterwards, we were so hot we decided to fling ourselves into the ocean, which tastes like pretzels, by the way, and have another drink.

On our second day there (I think) we took a bus into Varadero. My favourite part was all the old cars. They call Cuba a “rolling museum”. We walked around for a while and got our first glipse of Cuban culture. Varadero is mainly a tourist town, but there are flashes of the real deal here and there.

My favourite day of the week was when we went on a catamaran cruise. I had never been on a catamaran before, and it was so much fun! The weather was perfect, there was a bar on the boat and the bartender, Elvis, (seriously) made the trip into something awesome. He asked everyone where they were from and kept bringing us more drinks. He even got everyone dancing and singing.

The boat brought us to a dolphinarium where I got to meet Jessica the dolphin. It was surreal to actually touch a dolphin! Her skin felt like rubber and I was so worried I would scratch her, but apparently she wasn’t worried because she came pretty close! I was standing on the tips of my toes on a platform in the sea, trying to keep my head above water and not get in the dolphin’s way, in case she thought my braids were fish or something. I even got a kiss! Best part of the day, for sure!

We got back onto the boat where I liked to pretend I was a movie star and had my own private catamaran. All the other people were my movie star friends.

After I was done being a movie star (for the moment, not forever) we went snorkeling. In my case it meant putting on the floating belt, the mask and the tube thingy, then going into the water very, very slowly. This was followed by my not letting go of the rope, sticking my face in the water for approximately 48 seconds and seeing some cool fish and ocean floor before I said “ok, I did it. I’m done now.” The whole process lasted under five minutes. but I did it!

The rest of the day was spent eating lunch on the beach, swimming and drinking on the boat. Bliss.

The other days seemed to flow into each other as we did a lot of reading, swimming, talking and eating. The food was not incredible, for some reason everything tasted the same, but I had a wonderful time being there with my mom. We had drinks, but not as many as I thought, because the combination of the strong sun and the strong drinks was quite potent!

I even found a tree to climb! If you look hard enough, you will always find a tree to climb. Even in a lace dress, it’s possible.

I loved being in the water most of all. I’m not a strong swimmer, but I am an excellent floater! Plus, this was saltwater, so floating was even easier. I floated on my back, sitting up, even standing. My feet didn’t touch the bottom, but I could see it, since the water was so clear. I was float-walking around all week.

I tried to do a wheel on the beach, but it didn’t work so well, because my hands were sinking into the sand and the waves were pulling me into the ocean. It was the only yoga I did all week. I had brought my mat with me, but it was just too hot to practice. Also, I was quite busy doing nothing.

Really, the best thing of all was being there with my mom. We both like to talk and we both like to read, so we were perfect traveling companions for the week!

We also went to Havana, but such a colourful, vibrant city deserves it’s own post, so that will have to wait!

The ocean is where I belong

In July, I decided I wanted to take a trip somewhere. Anywhere, really. I went to a travel agency, picked one lucky agent, told her what my budget was and said “Send me somewhere.”

Then, I proceeded to stalk her for days, asking if she had any good deals for me, anywhere exciting to send me. I was hoping for an African safari or a tour of Iceland. My adventurous side was screaming “Egypt!” while my budget was whining “A bus to beach.”

I wanted to leave as soon as possible, but I discovered that the whole “I waited until the last minute to book my trip and I got a great deal!” thing was actually a myth. I decided I needed to be more flexible and added August to my available travel dates. After all, I am off all summer.

I was planning on going by myself, because that’s number 3 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.

After a few days, I realized I had to adjust my expectations when it came to the destination. What I really wanted was a change of scenery and a plane ride. If you fly somewhere, it’s a real trip. (Not always, but this summer, yes.)

My travel agent suggested Cuba. I said “When do I leave?” I was telling my mom about my awesome deal, and asked her if she wanted to come. I did not expect her to say yes, but she did! This is amazing because number 22 on my list is “Take a trip with my mom”. It’s going to be just the two of us!

Here is where we’ll be for the next week.

I’m going to be completely disconected from technology. No phone, no computer, no Internet. I’m really looking forward to that part. I’m bringing a book (ok, 4 books) and I’m going to relax, drink, read and swim in the ocean. I’m going to do whatever I want to.

See you in a week!

Jelly Bean Toes

My friend Suzanne and I wanted to go camping this weekend. When we were kids, my family went camping a lot, and I was always allowed to bring a friend, so Suzanne came along on a lot of family camping trips. We wanted to go to the same campground we went to as kids. Since the summer has been as sunny and hot as a Beach Boys song, we figured the weather would be great. One problem: the campground was full!

We could have gone somewhere else, but we decided to just postpone our trip and have a girl’s weekend in the city.

First stop, Chapters. I love that place. My dream is to get locked in a Chapters and spend the night reading. I told this to an employee once and he said it could be arranged. I think he was flirting with me. I’m not sure. Maybe he was just bored. I have many books to read, so I didn’t need a new one. I surprised myself with an amazing boost of willpower and didn’t buy anything. Suzanne bought a book, so it’s kind of like I got one because I’ll read it when she’s done.

After that, we went to get pedicures. I love doing this in the summer because I can never get my toes to look that awesome on my own. Also, Suzanne had it on her list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I was her first time and I think she’s addicted now. I’ve created a fabulous-looking-feet monster.

Then we went to dinner. A student (well, his parents, really) had given me a gift certificate to an Italian restaurant. Neither of us had ever been, but we figured we would give it a shot. I think we brought down the age average by about 40 years. It’s next to a retirement home. It smelled like old lady perfume. Not bad, just like a room full of grandmas. The food was ok. Not great, but hey, the drinks were good!

Our last activity of the night was to see the newest Step-Up movie. I liked it. Obviously, it’s about the dancing and not so much the boy-meets-girl-who’s-not-who-she-seems-and-has-to-chose-between-his-friends-and-her storyline. It was in 3D. I think that part was a waste of my 3$. However, I did get to wear my pink and blue Katy Perry keepsake 3D glasses. I looked fabulous.

Suzanne slept over and that just proves that you can have a slumber party at any age. This morning we watched the Olympics and got to see Canada’s first medal in synchronized diving. Awesome!

The rest of the day was spent at the beach where our main activities were eating and going into the water. We got sand all over our pretty toes, but it’s ok, they’re a tough kind of pretty. They can take it.

Sun, sand and pedicures made our weekend absolutely marvelous!