WestJet holiday tour to Hotel Tuxpan, Veradero, Cuba.
Following our flights from Vancouver via Toronto to Cuba, with airport waits and a night of dozing upright, we were warmly greeted by sunshine and a friendly welcome to Cuba by our West jet shuttle-bus hostess.
By the way, be sure to fill out one visa form per person or visas at the airport will cost an additional wait and $15 US each, plus exchange, at Cuba Customs.
Rooms at the Tuxpan are clean, somewhat comfortable and the staff super friendly. Some rooms are more agreeable than others as constant renovation goes on. Our mattresses this time were less than comfy.
All-you-can-drink bars need no explanation, however, it might take you a full day or two of meals to learn what to choose from the vast selection offered at the buffet. Having tried the various cereals, which tasted like cardboard, I enjoyed the as-you-like-it omelette for breakfast. Spare ribs in the hotel or hamburgers at the beach for lunch, roast beef and chicken in the hotel buffet for dinner sounds good. I found the meat often overcooked and learned to take small portions and go back for more once I discovered what I liked. Despite the variety, all this tended to be rather low on the good flavour scale for Canadian pallets, but better – I overheard – than restaurant meals in town.
Hotel entertainment ranged from string and keyboard quartets to sax and piano in the bar, as well as dancing lessons and a mariachi band from Mexico. Tours are available to suit taste and pocketbook. A snorkeling trip was well worthwhile, although the forty-minute group swim above the coral was rather exhausting for a senior such as I. I can’t remember when I worked my arms and legs continuously for so long in one session. Was it worth it? Oh yes. We swam through thousands of beautiful creatures of every shape and hue.
It takes little willpower to relax on the beach
after months of “must do” routine, obeying the clock.
Obey the call of the surf to dream in the shade of a thatched palapa,
stepping out on occasion to absorb a natural dose of vitamin D – not in tablet form.
Forget the sleeping pills. Catch a barrage of forty winks, lulled by the pounding berceuse of waves on white sandy beach.
Overall, I would happily return anytime for a two-week retreat from rain and snow.
Leave the laptop and iPad in the lock-up. In general, wi-fi is not available. Where it is, I’ve been told, it can be outlandishly expensive.
Bring sufficient sunscreen or pay double at hotel shops.
Visit the beach early morning to reserve your spot in sun/shade.
Leave something recognizable to mark your spot.
Hitchhiking is the national sport of Cuba. There are no drinking drivers.
With zero tolerance, any trace of alcohol results in life suspension of drivers’ licenses.
Single pale-skinned dude
among multiple shades of tan
gratiously sizzles in double layer
smear of Coppertone Six-O
Timer ticks ‘til time’s up.
Back to shady chaise
‘neath palm-fond roof.
Hearts in the Sand
Lovers with driftwood sticks
write statements in hearts
on inconstant sand.
Will those promises endure
as each returns to winter toil?
We collect shiny shells
to place in bowls
with those from seasons past,
reminders that our love remains,
to plan another sun-kissed sojourn
on a sandy foam-swept beach.
Pelicans search the shallows
end to end in graceful swoops
and somersaults for shrimp and tiny fish.
Pelican stands at waters edge
waiting for a handout
grabs a morsel in his beak
shakes the excess sand out.
A squadron of pelicans follow shrimp sellers
along the frothy beach.
One big fellow, first in line to be rewarded and fed
by fearless bikini-clad giggler.
Huge beak opens to gobble shrimp and hand.
Aggressive but gentle, pelican takes the gift,
leaves hand to be rinsed
by awe-struck feeder in salty wave.
Sunbathers and Other Tourists
Babel lines the sandy shore.
Incessant chatter in multiple tongues,
memories of Montreal market mornings,
the language loud and expressive.
Curvaceous creatures tanned and oiled
stand knee-deep jumping waves.
Potbellied elders patrol in pairs.
Toddlers toil with buckets and spades.
Row upon row of blue and yellow deck chairs
sunbathers doze sunny-side-up.
I stubbed my toe on something in the sand.
First cursed the pain but then to my delight,
glistening in the froth, it stood alone –
orange, purple, streaks of sparkling white,
sculpted as by Greek or Renaissance hand.
In perfect symmetry with line so fine
a treasure from this warm and happy land.
They line the beach
myriad shards of broken porcelain.
Step with care, you’ll find perfect jewels,
amazing patterns of Nature’s sculpted art,
perfected by the Master Craftsman.
Many shells are readily pierced
for diadem or necklace
fit for royalty in any place or time.
Early Morning on the Beach
I breathe deep the perfume and sounds of early morning.
Pellicans and seagulls follow the return of a night fisherman.
The deserted beach bears the scars of last night’s revelers.
Plastic glasses, straws, coconut shells and cigarette butts
will be gone by breakfast time.
I mark our place with strips of clothing –
a prospector staking his claim.
By seven, all seats will be spoken for;
every inch of mid-day shade snatched up.
Footsteps in the Sand
Footsteps in the sand, yours and mine
along the crystal shore.
In this here-and-now we walk in peace.
Let’s keep a taste of paradise
to warm us on those chilly days
when we together roam through rain and fog.
Powder-puff clouds sail cerulean sky.
The sea is striped cobalt, turquoise,
then fringed in frothy light.
Just above th’ horizon line,
mauve turns to tumescent clouds
where seagulls glide.
Yellow sails tipped blue and white
compete past dots of orange buoys
and bathers near the shore
Families of waders chat waist-deep
then strings of lace fall smooth as silk
and bubble light-beige beach.
sport shades of tan with scarlet
and pallid white from Canada’s frigid climes.