in 2004 we visited cuba. it was an all inclusive resort, (the whole) stoddard family attended, pre children vacay and let me tell you it was a "what happens in cuba, stays in cuba" kind of trip. my love of mojitos evolved from that trip along with cigars (i've dropped the cigar part since then). memorable...you bet. che's (our oldest daughter) name came from that vacation and that country has held a latin music, smoke filled, mint and rum flavoured spot in our hearts since then!
so this november we decided to revisit cuba, mostly out of fear that in 10 years with america getting the green light to travel there, it will eventually become americanized. we wanted to show the girlies what we got to experience minus the cigars (and endless travel mugs filled with booze, dancing, riding scooters with out helmets and topless sun bathing etc!) this trip would be the PG version, the family version (insert hubby's sad face emoji!)!
side note- no offence USA, but after our return home- right after the election had taken place...i'm now suspecting you may now be getting the RED light on your travel plans to cuba! due to your orange coloured, narcissistic new president elect!
THE RESORT ROOM
this hotel was rated a 4.5 star resort, looked good online, reviews were fine so we decided to book it!
we arrive to our room and i spot a cot outside, clearly by it's shape, it's been used for the homeless (nope! that's our second child single bed apparently! let's make this clear, i have seen abandoned mattresses in my urban exploring adventures that look better then this thing. you know when you walk in to your room and that you have a "situation" when your kids look around and say "i think gordon ramsay needs to come here and do an episode of hotel hell" or when the 8 year old says "is this a motel daddy"? fuck.
it was most certainly a 4.5 star 15 years ago, you know, when it was first built! not anymore.
portuguese germaphobia and OCD have now joined me for our 7 day stay here in varadero, welcome guys it's been a while!
for the people that know me well, i have some issues with outhouses, airplane toilets, public washrooms, hotel bed beds, spreads and pillows, there's more but lets not!
greg kept reminding me "you're in a third world country dina!"
survival mode for 7 days it is...
"kids don't put any of your shit on the ground, you're both sleeping in that one single bed that appears to be "less homeless looking" and made of that hard substance called cement (now double wrapped with the other clean top sheet) and if your tooth brush hits the inside of that sink...it's going in the trash and your getting tooth decay this week kids".
ALL YOU CAN DRINK
all you can drink, sounds divine right! well if your a lushy adult (you can't see it but my hand is raised in the air) the idea of afternoon cocktails on a beach in the warm sun is a no brainer). i can handle my sugar intake but sadly an 11 and 8 year old CAN NOT. the sheer gluttony of the NEVER ENDING "congo", "san francisco", "slushy lemonade" and "pina colada virgins", consumed in a canadian dollarama, 1 pint mason jars proved to be "overload" by day 5.
the straw that broke the camels back was when che' was so hyper, she kicked her flip flop three feet high high in the air landing on our table, nearly causing a tragic death to an innocent mojito and a cuba libre.
WHAT THE FUCK!!! (i know that's in caps lock and your all thinking i was yelling this at her, i didn't...i whispered it real creepy like in her ear. didn't want to make a bigger scene then the aerial show che just put on and there were loads of people all around us!)
you're both cut off! NO MORE SUGAR! (she claimed it to be an accident as she sat twitching from the sucrose high, no matter my wee addicts, the sugar enabling train has ended. consider this your intervention!
FOOD (buffet- all you can eat)
if you've ever been to cuba or have read up on the resorts, you will know that the food is odd and pretty boring and for a lack of better words BAD, and exceptionally bad if your a foodie! 10 + years later, nothing has changed - it was still bad.
but my kids, LOVED it.
i don't even know what to say about that!? is this a burn on my cooking or is my cooking so ethnic, flavourful and sophisticated that the boring food is a cleanser for their young palate's? i'm was so confused and a little disappointed that they didn't hate it! mostly, this is an ego based comment of motherly disappointment.
i did taste the pasta that they ate EVERY NIGHT (because it was the BEST PASTA they had EVER HAD) and guess what folks. mother fucking chef boyardee!! my kids don't eat that ever at home, shocker...sugar and tomato paste for the win!
TRIP TO HAVANA
last time we did a private small bus tour with way to much history for my right brained head. this time was our mini test for which child could do europe in the next couple of years. we opted for a (westjet vacation) hired tour guide in a vintage car sounds great as we could create our own adventure.
That morning we were met by a beautiful young lady (our tour guide) with our vintage car (with owner and driver who looked like pit bull the singer, not the dog). it was a stunning chevrolet bel air (from the 50's I would imagine?), red and white, in pristine condition! i slide into it's plastic covered bench seat and slip my hand in between the seats to locate my "airplane" seatbelt, I know these vintage cars well as my dad still has his duster 340 from the 70's! no belt! odd? it must be wedged in there somewhere. my hand is now so far down in the seat i think i can feel the trunk. NO BELTS.
the tour guide must deal with many canadian mothers with the look of terror on their faces as they realize these cars DON'T HAVE SEAT BELTS and reality of a four hour drive with MY CHILDREN not being buckled in on a highway in a foreign country.
she responds quickly - "these cars didn't have belts back in the 50's, the law says we don't have to use them! Michelle (they female version of the name) is a good driver, don't worry!"
me- "ya, that would never happen in canada" (insert uncomfortable laughter).
i'm confused, they changed all these old cars to run on diesel but they didn't think a seat belt was a good upgrade!? i love how when your married for a long period of time how you can say nothing and your spouse is reading your mind. this time he saw ...my wife is about to lose her shit.
greg whispers to me- "are you going to be ok?"
me- "oh ya for sure, i will just be visualizing all of us exiting the car through the windshield for our four, fucking hour trip there and back - if we make it back! i think that might fall under not ok"!
greg's expression back to me ( because i am, as well, a marriage mind reader) was - "third world country dina" but what he said back to me was "it will be ok".
me - death stare, *correction* a portuguese death stare.
i would like to mention that my kids loved the slippery non belted bench seat (that comfortably held all four of us), where they could lay down or rotate or stretch for the four hours. i on the other hand had to practice my surrendering to the universe, praying to god and wishing we didn't go in a vintage car for four hours. there wasn't even a holy shit handle, who makes a car with NO holy shit handle, oh i know, the ones that don't make seat belts!!! the only thing i could grip would have been the door handle leaving me as road kill on the highway. i think this was called panic attack boot camp, if you can make it through that with out needing a paper bag to breathe in then consider yourself cured!
havana was amazing. we got out guide to take us to where the people live, real places not the government tourist buildings. it was poverty. photography eye candy everywhere, real people- kind people and true moments of people living - my favorite! i asked the girls about havana and what their thoughts were...
che'- " i love living in canada and i LOVE our house"!
yep. our plan for them becoming humble and grateful is working!.
The trip was filled with many great memories, learning experiences and a few extra layers to the girls onions that i'd rather they didn't get this time around but we are alive and well. the ocean was stunning, very safe and filled with ocean treasures! the resort staff were awesome and the weather was great for being the winter season. we met some amazing people (one family from victoria bc!) and a lovely younger couple from germany (who paid us a huge compliment by asking us a question- "tell me how you raised your kids to not be annoying"!). parenting win right there folks!
THE TRIP HOME
the check in to go home was a mess, we were the last to get through security due to the cuban westjet airport staff not knowing how to check through a visa passport family that was a head of us (25 minutes later we make it to customs/security and the staff there also had a "I don't give a shit how long it takes to process you through" kind of attitude. the funny part was the whole trip greg was fine with all of our "misfortunes" but this folks is where the hubby was LOSING his mind. BIG TIME.
i grinned and reminded him...
"you' re in a third world country greg!"
Our family video