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 😉
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.
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…