Saturday, 18 January 2014

YVR to Varadero (Despite contrary belief, there ARE colours in the world)

I leave Vancouver on another sunny (read foggy) day. This was one of the few glimpses of the sun along the way from North Van to the airport

foggy runway

My Plane lands in Varadero at 3:30 am; customs and immigration are quick to get through (Hear that, Vancouver Airport?) After I step outside to look for the bus that will take me to the hotel, I spy a cab driver who wears a tuque and GLOVES !  it is 14 degrees, but for Cubans that is ‘mucho frio’  A young Cuban speaking perfect English (Memories of Shenzhen: English earns $$$s ;-) tries to sell me 2 beer for 5 Pesos. I don’t want two beer and ask how much one beer would be. So he offers me 5 beers for 6 pesos.  I finally get the one beer for 3 pesos, overpaid but hey, the welcome is friendly. And keep in mind: the beer sellers are at the airport with cold beer at no later than 3:30 am which deserves a reward in my world ;-)

And I feel that I have arrived in a civilized: I have a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other while I wait for the bus.  OF COURSE, there are no no-smoking areas ;-). 

At 4:02 I’m still in the airport; the combination of tiredness and alcohol starts to work its magic. Of course my favourite album from the 80s is playing:  Tina Turner, What’s love got to do with it.  I was 19 at the time this came out and had the cassette tape playing in my car for 5 months solid.  I can’t stand the Raiiiin ! ;-)

At 4:45 I am in my room. I have a room on the 6th floor (there is a 7th floor). I got the corner room (the hotel is rectangular with ocean side and a land side) so not only do I get sound of the waves in the channel (check a map of Varadero) but sitting on the balcony I also see the ocean towards the West, which should make for spectacular sunsets from my balcony ;-). 

I explode wide awake at 8 am, flip over on my bed to face the window, run to the window, and thank whoever brought back colours to the world overnight! 

Why would anyone take an elevator if the outside stairs offer this view ?

Time to grab some breakfast.  And I get an instant refresher course in NO HAY!
NO HAY plates
HAY saucers
NO HAY cups
I stay away from bacon, sausages, omelets and focus on olives, papaya, pineapple, and a slice of toast with cheese.

After the breakfast I go to La Tienda, the hotel store.  And no surprise, NO HAY toothpaste. Ah well.  But HAY: a pack of cigarettes and 1.5 litres of spring water for a total of CUC 2.6. Yes, that’s right: A pack of rather good cigarettes costs C$0.65.  

Since my room is on the 6th floor, this offers a rather good opportunity to burn off calories after over-eating :-)

After a long walk on the beach (with very few other souls trying the same; 40% of the guests lay by the pool, another 40% lie on the beach facing away from the water [Varadero Beach faces North and consequently all the face tanners face away from the water], while another 10% is defending their seat at the various FREE bars of the all-inclusive hotel), I head to the reception to find the location of the money changing location (the reception) and to check whether there are Cartas de Internet. Of course: NO HAY cartas and the computers are not working anyway.  But after only 6 hours in Cuba I already don’t care anymore ;-)

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