Relaxing in Varadero
Trip Start Sep 08, 2008
35Trip End Nov 02, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Having not slept well at all - concerned that the alarm wouldn't go off or that we'd not make it onto the bus to Varadero... and was still a bit worried about the 71 cigars we were needing to get through customs. It's funny how relevant and big issues as stupid and trivial as these seem while you're sleeping. Once I had woken up, I couldn't understand what I'd been fussing about. Suddenly everthing that was so dire and serious seemed so inconsequential.
Breakfast was sprawled out on our table for us!! Fruit, omelette, coffee etc. At 6:40am our cab dropped us off at the Viazul bus terminal. Oddly enough as you step out of the taxi other taxis step up and offer you their services. For what? To take you back where you came from? Surely you'd have asked the taxi you've just stepped out of to take you exactly where you wanted to go? Anyway..
We asked a woman whether we could buy tickets to which we were told to wait until the bus had arrived in order to check availability. We wrote down our names and waited as instructed. The longer we waited, the more I just knew I had to get on the bus. Thankfully on arrival everyone queueing up were given seats, so all my panicking had been in vain.
Soon after getting onto the bus I dozed off. Nix later woke me up. Looking around I realised that we'd stopped. This wasn't exactly what I'd pictured Varadero to look like. In fact, it wasn't Varadero at all. We were on the road stopped at some very random spot. We had flat tyre. The poor bus drivers had their shirts off, the sweat was streaming down them. Many of the tourists on board were stepping out, not to help the guys, but to photograph them 'on the job'!! I stepped out for a bit just to warm us as the Viazul bus' airconditioning was maxed out and we were absolutely freezing.
While waiting for the guys to change the tyre, we had loads of horses and carriages pass us, a fair number of old cards and loads of cars with really bad exhaust fumes. About 45 minutes later we were on the road again
The bus stop in Varadero was literally about 150m from our hotel, so we decided to walk the stretch with our heavy backpacks, mini backpacks and basket full of odds and ends. (We weren't quite sure how were were going to get all this stuff back home, or even to Mexico onwards).
On arrival at Lost Delphones, we were informed that there was not yet a room available for us as checkout was only at 14:00 but were given wristbands identify us as customers and told to enjoy lunch adn then come back to find out what was available. We asked whether we could have a room with a seaview if possible and then headed off to find ourselves something to snack on.
The restaurant is located in an old colonial building overlooking the sea. Walking through we passed the bar and snack bar where you can order drinks pretty much 24 hours a day. Alongside the bar was a stunning blue pool with a fair number of deck chairs and umbrellas around. Los Delphines was looking good!! I think Nicki and I were looking forward to a few days of complete freedom - no obligation to eat at anyone's house, we weren't going to feel like were were intruding while staying at anyone's casa particular
After a glutonous buffet lunch we headed to the pool to have a few slush puppy ice drinks. We then headed on back to the front desk to query our room. Yes, a room was available and again yes, it did have a seaview and not only that, it also just happened to be one of the suites!!! SCORE!!! It's like being upgraded from a chicken bus to business class on a flight!! The room was enormous! The bed the hugest I'd ever seen as well. We did a little happy jig before fishing out our bikinis and heading down to the beach...
The remainder of the afternoon was spent lazing on deck chairs under the straw umbrellas, swimming in the 24 degrees celsius sea water, all the while enjoying a few drinks from the bar. It couldn't be much more relaxing thant this!! I also noticed a distinct absense of harrassment!! AWESOME!!!
Some time later we decided to take a walk on the beach. Not too far down the road, the 'kssk kssk' and kisses started and at one point was accompanied by a few fist fulls of sand thrown at us. At what point is it ok for adult men to throuw sand at passers by? Or are they free to do as they please if they've had a few shots of rum on the side? Again, I struggle to understand why two girls travelling on their own have to fight so hard for a pleasurable, unharrassing moment the minute they step out of their bedroom door!!
The buffet dinner was great!! Chased won by a couple of very mellowing glasses of white wine. Both Nix and I as happy as hippos!! Dinner was a very relaxing and slow affair. The hotel put on a fashion show by the poolside. We came to learn that Los Delfines was quite a gay and flamboyant spot in Varadero. All the better for us we thought, even less chance of harrassment!! I managed to get Nix 'represent' South Africa on stage for a dance off, which included a few Grease moves. Good entertainment value!!
After the show had finished, we made ourselves comfortable at the bar drinking Cuba Libres and Pina Coladas, and got to know the barman, Gustavo and a few of the other people at the hotel. It seems that Cuba is very much a top holiday destination for Canadians. Something new I learnt which I didn't know before was how many of the Canadians are actually French Candians. One learns something new all the time...
Some of the hotel's residents tried to convince us to go dancing with them at the Casa de la Musica a small way off, but we declined for two reasons. Firstly because we figured that the odds of being harassed at the hotel were considerably less than if we went 'out there', and secondly because the drinks at the hotel were free!
We ended up meeting and partying the rest of the evening with two of the Canadians, Roberto and Gary, who later joined us at the bar. We never left he bar, partying until 6am...
Roberto related a story to us of how a non-English speaking French Canadian guy, Kevin tried crossing the border into the USA. But when asked questions like 'Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?' or 'Do you have or have you ever dealt drugs?' etc, every one of his answers to the various questions was 'Sure, Sure, Sure' with a huge smile on his face. He didn't have any idea as to what was being asked or really what he was saying. In his mind he was just keeping the peace and saying the right thing. Needless to say, his car was stripped and searched, his fingerprints were taken, hit mug shot was taken and then put into a small holding prison until the misunderstanding was resolved. 'Sure, sure' became a running joke for the rest of the holiday.
Roberto also told us about three Turksih guys who attacked one of the Canadian girls right on the beach, all of them, the guys and the girl, residing at the hotel. The Turkish guys were arrested and deported
At 6am, having played barlady for much of the night and parting on cocktails, we decided to head off to bed. As we left the bar area and entered the entrance of our hotel block, we were stopped by a pair of security guards who insisted on teaching us to salsa. After a fair amount of rejection on our side we eventually agreed to a quick lesson. I turned around less than a minute later to see Nicki seriously try and get away from the guy she was dancing with. It was then that I said that the lesson was over and we left.
It was only two days later when we realised the extent of his attack as Nicki had some serious bruising on parts of her body. Unfortunately it was too late to realise at this stage as we were no longer in Varadero.
Ironically, it was at Los Delfines, the most 'secure' place we stayed at in our time in Cuba, that we were actually attacked, and this from the people who were employed to protect us and the hotel!!!
9 October 2008 - Thursday
Woke up quite hungover, scoffed in a breakfast and then back to bed for a bit more sleep and recovery time
After some lazing we decided to head out on the Catamaran for a bit of a sail, taken out by one of the hotel guides. The water was like a mirror and soooo warm. Also so nice to spend time with other people who also spoke English. Decided that later on we'd go snorkelling after lunch.
With goggles and flippers aboard, myself, Patricia, Gary and Ovis set out yet again on the Catamaran. Nix having not yet quite recovered from the previous nights' antics, decided to give it a skip. Jesus and Diego (our guides) brought along some old bread to feed the fish with. The minute it hit the water, we were surrounded by yellow and black striped little zebra looking fish. Although it was great having these little fish around for the feeding frenzy, it's a bit sad that we needed to feed them to see them. In comparison to the Red Sea where the sea life was so abundant whether you were snorkelling or diving. I'm not sure how the oceans and coral around Cuba have changed but have read that much of the larger fish have disappeared as a result of overfishing
Ovis was stung by a jellyfish soon after entering the water, but fortunately nothing too serious. About 50 minutes after we started snorkelling I started getting motion sickness again so decided to stop, hang onto the floating board and just focus on the horizon. Ridiculous that even in those still waters that seasickness still affects me, but it does. Though I guess it probably has something to do with the previous night's cocktails as well.
A motion sickness tablet later back at the hotel, I headed back to the beach to enjoy the sun and warm sea. We stayed there until about 7pm when mosquitos started carrying us off. This one was an early night.
The great thing about going to sleep was the ongoing thunder, lightning and heavy showers outside. We decided to keep our sliding doors and curtains open and to turn off the lights to fully enjoy the storm. However, as a result of the previous nights' lack of sleep, I found myself dreaming in mere seconds. What a way to go to sleep!!!
10 October 2009 - Friday
Woke up completely refreshed!! A breakfast later we headed off to Cubatur to book our bus to Vinales. They were completely unhelpful and were completely lacking in any form of information that we decided to head to the Viazul bus terminal instead. On reaching the terminal we were hounded by people offering us taxi rides as an alternative. Out of interest we first inquired about a taxi to Havana and then on second thoughts to Vinales. On turning down the guys a fair number of times he eventually offered us a taxi ride to Vinales at CUC100 which which would take us 3 hours. On careful consideration we decided to accept. It'd save us a day and we'd only be paying CUC20 extra. The taxi would collect us at 3pm from the hotel, giving us the remainder of the day to enjoy Varadero. And that's exactly what we did - beach, sun, another catamaran ride and a few more social bebidas. Just before 2pm we ruched back to have a quick shower and do the inevitable packing. We left our luggage at reception and quickly head back to the bar for a snack.
One thing you have to give Cuba credit for is their time keeping skills. If a something is scheduled to start or end at a particular time, then that generally is when it will happen
We said our goodbyes to the people we'd met while at the hotel, loaded our bags into the mini white 'taxi' and were off. Initally in fits of laughter as we only had one 'window winder' gadget to pass around for all the card windows - classy cab. Though after some time our laughter died down as we were suffocated by the exhaust fumes. The drive wasn't too bad until we hit Havana. Here our driver spent an hour trying to pawn us off onto other taxis so that they could take us the rest of the way. We had NOT signed up for this. The reason we asked for the taxi was to avoid having to go through Havana altogether in the interest of saving time. Finally our driver found someone willing to take us through.
We squeezed into a car with two other women who were headed to Pinar del Rio. A very tight squeeze but hey ho... what could we do? Absolutely hated the drive... Most of it was in the dark and with just about no visibility of the road ahead. The car we were in had minimal lighting and the driver was driving on instinct and a few shots of coffee. I finally just decided to close my eyes as I felt safer that way.