Posts Tagged With: cayo santa maria cuba

The Hue of You: Weekly Photo Challenge

The inspiration for this post comes from Word Press this week. Immediately I thought of the colour and what to post for the theme the HUE OF YOU. It could be a HUE to show my personality or current mood. I decided to show my favourite colour Turquoise Blue. When we think of blue we often think cold… but this lovely warm sea is far from cold. The colour relaxes me and energizes me at the same time.

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

I am always drawn to this HUE of BLUE and I have been told it looks good on me.

It was an easy choice when we got married to use TURQUOISE and Silver as our wedding colours. I was told it was the ‘man version of pink’, but it is still my favourite.

Check out word press to find out more details how to join in or see other interpretations of HUE OF YOU.

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Earth, Sea & Distance: Photo Challenges

I have decided to combine the weekly photo challenges into one this week. Pixelventures has asked us to post on EARTH, while Where’s My Backpack is on a long distance trip, so she has set the theme (off in the) DISTANCE and Word Press asked about the SEA. Word Press suggested we talk about the first time we were at the sea or other feelings surrounding water. I love relaxing by the ocean and hearing the gentle waves lap at the shores. It has been just over a year since we were in Cuba for a two week glorious holiday by the sea. Last year our many return trips to Canada only left 2 short mini holidays and none of them took us to the sea. 😦 Check out the links above to participate and find out more about the themes and their meaning. See below for how I interpreted and combined the three themes into one 😉 .

Here is where the earth meets the sea… and the only thing off in the distance are the clouds.

View from my Beach Chair in Cuba

View from my Beach Chair in Cuba

A view of the sea in the distance through the trees in the Philippines. At this resort the earth is celebrated with gardens and natural building materials. No phone, or TV to distract you. Only the sounds of nature to lull you to sleep each night in your open air hut.

Nature's Rhythym -wind, waves and wonderful

Nature’s rhythm – wind, waves and wonderful

High above the earth we caught sight of the sea and some small islands in the distance.


A new day as the sun  in the distance rises over the earth and sparkles across the sea in Vietnam.

Sunrise Sparkles on the Surf

Sunrise Sparkles on the Surf

These photos may look familiar since they all come from previous posts, but I thought they were worth sharing again 😉

Stay tuned…

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Travel Theme: Beaches

I have been lucky enough to have travelled and seen many beaches around the world. From the Eastern Coast of Canada to the French Rivera and the warm waters of the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida. More recently I have had the chance to set foot on beaches in Asia. Each one has a unique beauty, but one thing is the same… the soothing sounds of the sea seems to rejuvenate and relax the soul.

Enjoy my collection of beautiful beaches. Here is a slide show of my 4 most recent pics.

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Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has set this week’s theme Beaches. Click here to see more example or post your own because ‘everyone loves a day at the beach’.

Stay tuned… more next week.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Being short I rarely look down on things 😉 but here are a few examples with a bird’s eye view for this week’s photo challenge.

Looking down from the World Finicial Tower in Shanghai, China from 101 floors up over the Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Huangpu River March 2011.



Looking down at the surf  lapping my toes in Cuba, Summer 2012.



Head over to see more or join in the challenge at Word Press – From Above.

Stay tuned… there is always more 🙂




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Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Kiss 😡

My nephews were getting their Valentine Cards ready and I told the youngest to put hugs and kisses on his card to his teacher. He is in Junior Kindergarten, so without a second thought he put the little X’s and O’s on the card.

He said “I want to make some more X’s”

I said “Oh more hugs?”

My brother and husband looked at me funny and said “What??? I thought X’s were kisses?”

I explained that I thought a hug was an X because you crossed your arms around someone… that looks like an X. An O then must be a kiss since your mouth makes an O shape when you kiss. They thought it was hysterical.

What do you think and X and O stand for? A hug or a kiss?

To my husband who is halfway around the world.

To my husband who is halfway around the world.

See more examples of KISS or join in the challenge over at Word Press 🙂

Stay tuned for more next week… or follow me at twitter @Rocse1.



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Viva La Cuba: Critters!

Cuba seems so long ago and just a memory. Before all the stories fade I have one more fun one to share. We went to Cuba to relax. We had been before so we didn’t plan on doing the tourist trips; the beach and pool would be enough. I thought I would take a few photos and test out the new camera, but how many shots of the beach or palm trees did I need? Soon after we arrived I spotted the bright blue/green lizard and it was my mission to get a photo. They were elusive and camera-shy. We didn’t see them often and if you did they were gone before the camera was turned on. I managed to grab a few shots, but this had to be the most interesting 😉

Privacy Please!

One day by the pool John said what is this and bent down to see this teeny little critter, a lizard. It was pretty brave as it jumped right in his hand! John has spent a lot of  time trying to catch lizards and they usually dash away before they are caught. This one was the exception as it ran up his arm and across his shoulders. Within minutes it was on top of his head, the perfect perch on John’s hat. I just had time to snap this picture before it jumped onto me and my camera. I of course yelped and it fell into the grass. John found it again and held onto it for a while to show a few people. A few days later we were laying by the pool when something was crawling on John. He jumped up and brushed it away fearing it was a bee. Here it was another little lizard! What are the odds? This one was more of a brown colour. It crawled up John’s leg as I laughed hysterically. It gripped his leg hairs and used them as a climbing apparatus. After snapping a few pictures we let it go in the grass.

On John’s Hat

Now that is small!










The resort was large and there were about 5 cats that claimed different areas. Despite the “Do Not Feed the Animals” people fed them. This little kitten hung out near our building and would come when I called him. I named him Poquito, or small in Spanish. He was very friendly and would follow me until I left his area. Even when other people would call him he would stick with me, or run over to check things out and then quickly return. Sometimes he would even come up the stairs and wait for us outside of our room. After losing Holly a few months before I was happy to adopt this little guy, even if it was only for a few weeks.

Each morning this gentleman was out at the pool with a long pole and small net. He was always wet up to the waist or chest. I thought he was just cleaning the pool before most guests arrived. One morning we happened to be close enough and John noticed him fishing something out of the pool… crabs! The crabs would come out at night and fall in, or purposely, go into the pool. This fellow would fish them out each day.

Beware of Crabs!

There were a variety of birds and we would hear their beautiful songs early each morning. They kept hidden high in the palms or in the under brush along side of the beach. With the zoom on my camera I happened to catch a shot of this one.

The most colourful and interesting  had to be these caterpillars. We found one on the edge of the pool one day and John rescued it before it went into the deep water. When we brought it off to the side we noticed this tree that was covered in them! There had to be maybe a hundred or more. The caterpillars were about the diameter of my thumb and longer than my index finger! They ate at a rapid speed and in a few minutes you could see it devour a large section of leaf. Within the two weeks this little heard of critters thinned the foliage down and soon I am sure the tree would be bare. The caterpillar’s colours were vibrant and it was fascinating to watch them up close.

Colourful Caterpillar


Look Closely. How Many Caterpillars do you See?











Last week Island Traveller’s Photo Challenge was about Everyday Life. Taking time to enjoy life, but also enjoy the small details. Having the time to notice the unusual and watch the little things became a fun past time during this vacation. From this I learned this lesson:  to remember to sometimes change focus and look closely to what is right in front of you instead of just the big picture. As the saying goes sometimes we need to take time to smell the roses.

Cuba was an amazing adventure with time to relax, get up close to enjoy the finer details and have the opportunity of a life time. This is the end of my posts on Cuba, but the memories will last forever.

What did you notice today?

Stay tuned for more….



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Viva La Cuba: Off the Tourist Track

It has been busy since I came back to China. We got right back to work with full days. This year my workload will be even heavier since I am the only returning teacher in my year level, which means I have 3 new staff to help support and teach them the ropes. I also have a brand new co-teacher who is new to the school.  I don’t mind helping out since I was new once too and asked a lot of questions. This is my payback 😉 In addition to that I am also part of a committee to help learn a new computer system. I am supposed to be the master and show others how to use it and then trouble shoot any problems. This is going to be fun since we have had an intensive training session and SO much was covered I can’t remember everything. Fingers crossed it is easy or no one has any questions.

I have been trying to catch up on blogs, but I apologize I have been very bad. I haven’t been able to catch up as I would like. Posting and responding is the most I have been able to do most days and weekends. I promised I would write more about our holidays and I keep running out of time, so without further ado… more on Cuba!

Sun, Surf & Sand – Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

This was our third trip to Cuba. In 2008 we made the trip twice within a few months. The second trip was spur of the moment since there was a great sell off. We loved the beaches, people and music. We explored the small craft markets in Varadero and did a few fun tourist trips off the resort where we swam with dolphins, snorkeled in a cave, rode a jeep, went to a traditional farm and had lunch on the softest, powdery beach I ever saw. This trip was taking us to Cayo Santa Maria which is relatively new to the tourist racket. The travel agents sold it as ‘quiet with little to do’. In comparison Varadero had night life at the many hotels, a bus into town for the craft markets and a variety of tours to take. Conversely, Cayo Santa Maria was a handful of resorts with few optional excursions and no one went into town. The closest town was across the 45KM causeway and wasn’t really equipt for tourists. People stayed at the resort. A few excursions were available and set up close by just for something to do. Some may ask what are you going to do for 2 weeks? Won’t you get bored? Well maybe, but it sounded like heaven after a busy school year. No schedules, a good book and a beautiful beach… R&R… this is just what the doctor ordered for this holiday.

After the excitement on day one with John’s adventure and trip to the local clinic we settled in to lounging by the pool each day. We avoided the beach since the trees were in full pollination and were a little worried about a repeat performance to the emergency. Near the end of the two weeks we did venture to the sea, but jellyfish kept us out of the water. John sailed a few times and went fishing.

Not a fish story… it was really this big! John’s catch a barracuda.

John is on the white sailboat.






I enjoyed watching the small fish that came close to shore and the occasional larger ones that came to feed. Some barracuda and long thin needle nose looking fish were most interesting. Mostly John enjoyed chatting to a few other tourists and I read. I finished book 2 and 3 of the Hunger Games. Luckily I tucked a third book in my bag; a mystery novel by Elizabeth Peters. Reading is something I really enjoy and don’t always get time to do, so this was perfect. Reading 3 books in 2 weeks was heavenly. It was funny as I looked around the most popular choice for reading just happened to be the Hunger Games series or Shades of Grey. When I wasn’t reading I was swimming or chatting to other vacationers. Everything was peaceful and not a shred of boredom crept in.

We didn’t make any plans to do any day trips since one was a flight into Havana (it was expensive and we had been already) and the other was to go and see a dolphin show. We were content with just hanging out and spending our days by the pool. John made friends with one of the hotel staff  (Y) and he offered to get some Cuban cigars cheap. The locals always have the connections and get the best prices no matter where you are. The catch was he couldn’t bring them to work. Y offered to show us around his town,  Caibarién, and we could have lunch before heading back to the resort. John went to inquire about renting a car or hiring a taxi for the day. For about the same price we could rent a car, so John thought that would allow us some more freedom and we would do that. When asked if we should book the car the answer was no problem, come back tomorrow. Of course if you know us, or been following our blog this is not going to go smoothly 😉

The next day we woke early and had breakfast. We went to the car rental booth and it was closed. Someone thought it was opening soon, so we hung around. The time came and went and no one showed up. Front desk thought he was in another location so the bell boy drove us in the golf cart there. No car rental guy. Next we went to their sister resort and found him. All the cars were rented until tomorrow. This was Y’s only day off before we went home so we had to go today. We also discovered they do NOT accept credit cards for car rentals, only cash for the large deposit. There are no ATMs so that would have also proved difficult. Back to the resort we negotiated a price for a taxi for a few hours. Finally, with a few hours delay, we were on the road.

The long causeway was very narrow and the only link to the main land. Cayo means key in Spanish and Cayo Santa Maria is a large sand key off the main land. Castro himself thought about developing this area for tourism and so the causeway was built in the narrowest stretch from mainland to key. A 50 minutes drive from the resort brought us to the small

The causeway into town

village of Caibarién. After we drove across the causeway we saw the locals on small horse carts loaded with items to be sold in town. The town itself is more of a village with no chain shops, restaurants or supermarkets. It appeared most things to buy were sold directly from someone’s home. People sat on porches while others were on horse-drawn taxi’s to get from place to place. A few cars were parked along streets  or driving the narrow, bumpy roads. What a difference from the flash cars in Shanghai, or even the modern newer models in Canada. Old Ladas and 1950 style cars faded with peeling paint were the luxury here. My eyes scanned every detail as I tried to commit it all to memory. This is the place where tourists don’t come, we were definitely off the tourist track. Fear didn’t enter my mind, but a sense of wonder and how lucky I was to be invited in to see something that few people ever get to experience. It was a strange sensation and the honour to be picked to see this first hand was overwhelming. My new camera was about to get a work out, but not before I asked if it was OK to take photos. I didn’t want to offend anyone or look like we were showing off or flaunting wealth. We exited the taxi and I knew this was going to be a day to remember… a chance of a lifetime.

Back in time?

Stay tuned for more….

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Weekly Image of Life: Passion

Soon as I saw the title I thought about Cuba. The Cuban’s are passionate about music and this one band that we saw was no exception. The lead singer got into the music and his voice rang out loud and clear like no one I have ever seen before. His entire body was into the music as he gestured and sang out loud. My husband said he looked like a story-teller telling you a great story. The air is hot, but that does not stop them from moving to the beat, dancing and singing along. In between songs they mop their brows in a quick break before continuing. To me this is passion… forgive the quality of the imagine. In low light and trying to take a photo of a group who was not standing still was no easy task.

Passion in Music

Check out Island Traveller for more ‘passion’ or to join in.

Stay tuned…

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Weekly Image of Life: Summertime Blast

For me summer is already over and we have plunged right into work and getting ready for the new year. The last few meetings will soon take place, the finishing touches and materials will be readied for the students and the eager children will arrive early Wednesday morning  for a new school year.

My summer time blast was nothing big and brilliant, but slow and steady. After a very busy and stressful year I took a few weeks to sleep in and just sit quietly on the porch. We had a few visits with friends and family, which weren’t enough or a chance to connect with everyone we wanted. A trip to Cuba also filled our days with more relaxing a chance to escape emails and routines. Time went too fast and now just a memory. How I wish I was still at home or lounging on a beach chair as the pressures of everyday come flooding back all at once.

View from my Beach Chair in Cuba

Instead of a computer and a mountain of paper work I wish this was my view 🙂

Visit Island Traveller to see more images of summer or to join in the challenge.

Check out my posts I also wrote this weekend. One on Cuba and the other Sunsets (another photo challenge).

Stay tuned for more…

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Viva La Cuba !

A little late, but as promised more on Cuba! Monday we returned to work for meetings and training on a new computer program. Nothing like jumping in and full speed ahead. Recovering from jet lag, high heat and humidity and long working hours has left me tired and with little time to organize and write a post. I am sure I could have found the time, but for it to be coherent and interesting would have been questionable 😉

Surf, Sand and Sun in shades of Beautiful Blue

This was our third trip to Cuba. In 2008 we went to Varadero twice. During our first trip we also did a day trip into Havana. Cuba is an awesome beach and sun destination, but a unique location as you step back a few decades as the simple life is somewhat preserved. This trip brought us to a different location, Cayo Santa Maria. Cayo means ‘key’ as in the Florida Keys. Cayo Santa Maria is off the mainland of Cuba and is connected by the longest causeway, in Cuba, which is 48Km long.

Day 1 we arrived at sunset and by the time we went through customs, loaded onto the buses and drove 1.5 hours to our hotel it was after 11PM. Driving the causeway was a little spooky as we stared out into the inky blackness of night. To increase the ominous feeling was the constant flashes of lighting ahead of us that light up the thick cloud cover. At the hotel we had to navigate the many paths and try to find our room without any guidance from hotel staff. Things were a little disorganised here. They checked us in at the airport in the parking lot, in the dark. A little bug bitten and tired we found our way to our room and went to bed. Morning came soon enough. Opening the curtains to explore our view and new home for the next two weeks I soon felt deflated as it was pouring rain. Thick grey clouds filled the sky and water streamed off the roof and flooded the area around the pool. Each room comes equipt for these down pours and umbrella in hand we went off to our tour meeting and breakfast. The question on everyone’s mind was when will the rain stop? It was hurricane season. In the back of our minds we worried about the possibilities. Hotel staff assured us it was just a passing storm and it should stop later that day, or in a day or two at most. That was reassuring 😉 Luckily the rain moved quickly and by late morning the rain had pretty much stopped.

John and I decided to explore the resort and beach and went for a walk. The waves were big and red warning flags whipped in the wind. The narrow ribbon of sand was eroded into a large step down to the water. The water was warm and would be much more inviting on another day. Heading back from the beach along the walkway an angry bee came from no where and stung John. The issue here is John is allergic to bees. I couldn’t believe the odds as I was only a step ahead of him. Trying to remain calm on the long walk back to the lobby (about 5+ minutes) John went to the front desk for help and I ran to the room to get our necessary paper work for a trip to the doctor or hospital. By the time I arrived back a taxi was ready to take us, luckily, a short drive to a small clinic and not to the main land 45 minutes away. The hotel staff was shocked by the incident since Cuba rarely has bees. As we discovered later most palm trees were pollinating. We had not had a chance to go to the bank and exchange money and they were going to take us there first. One look at John told me we did not have time. A quick drive and a rush into the emergency John was given medication to stop the reaction. I am still amazed at how calm I was in such a dire situation. John knew he had to remain calm as any adrenalin rush would have increased the reaction and lower his chance of survival. John taken care of and hooked up to an IV we joked at the situation. Quite the adventurous start to a trip… adventure always finds us. Oddly enough we both had uneasy feelings the day we left and it kind of left us freaked out as the events unfolded before us.

Once everything was under control John was monitored and then released from the hospital. In the chaos we had not paid our taxi driver, as we entered the waiting area about 2 hours later, our taxi driver was waiting for us to take us back to the resort. We went to settle our bill and I had already explained the situation where we did not have local currency and they could not accept our insurance. We had to pay upfront and claim it back on our return to Canada. Our taxi driver stepped forward and inquired how much was our bill. He paid the bill to save us a return trip to settle the bill with the clinic. He would then take us to the bank where we could exchange money and reimburse him. It was an example of how kind and caring the Cuban people are… it still overwhelms me how a stranger was willing to do that for us.

Heaven on Earth

The remainder of our trip was less eventful as we relaxed and enjoyed the sun, people and music. I will write more later about the trip and our chance to get off the tourist path and into a local village. An amazing experience that few people get a chance to experience. Just another trip to Cuba turned into an adventure and chance of a lifetime.

Stay tuned for more…

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