Over the past four years I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Cuba three times. I’ve stayed in Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria, and at three different resorts of varying star-levels. My inaugural trip took place in 2009. My best friend, Lauren, was home for the holidays after spending some time away in Australia for school. We were playing with the idea of going somewhere for a week, so we booked a last-minute trip to Varadero for some quality girly time before she had to head back Down Under.
We scored a one week all-inclusive package for under $500 each. I still can’t believe it. The resort we stayed at in Varadero wasn’t the swankiest place on earth — I’m hesitant to even call it classy — but the beds were comfortable, the beach had white sand and was gorgeous, and the booze was free. It also had a great veranda area and served wicked cappuccinos and cafe au laits — perfect for the morning after a night of imbibing in said booze.
I decided to feature this trip today because sometime within the next twelve hours Lauren will be writing her final exams of Med school (the time difference always throws me off, causing me to constantly check my phone’s world clock to see what time it is in Melbourne — you’d think after four years I’d know by now). The word “proud” is a meager adjective to describe the amount of emotion I’m feeling towards my girl.
I’m thankful that we had the chance to enjoy this time together. It was the first time we had gone anywhere since our high school graduation trip to Italy and France (my first TBT with this post), plus it was a welcome escape from Toronto in December. Aside from beaching ourselves beside the ocean, we hit up downtown Varadero and took a day trip to Havana. I even got to see some of the local places that one of my favourite authors, Ernest Hemingway, used to haunt. We couldn’t help but toast him with a mojito at his favourite bar, La Bodeguita del Medio.
I also somehow managed to get sunstroke and one of the worst sunburns I have ever had (my sister claims my chest was PURPLE). I have two things to take away from this overindulgence in the Cuban sun:
- Sun stroke makes you feel high as a kite one moment, then dizzy and nauseous the next, then ultimately you get so tired you feel like a construction worker after a full day’s work and have no choice but to pass out and waste half a day sleeping in your hotel room.
- When you’re on a medication that makes you sun sensitive, for chrissakes put on sun block, and do so liberally. My chest now has the ability to turn beet red after the slightest touch from the sun. It’s quite a piss-off.
I think of all the photos we took during our stay, the following are some of my favourites. It was our first night at the resort and Lauren and I were getting ready in the bathroom for the evening festivities. We were doing our make-up when Lauren looked over to the wall beside her and pulled out a contraption that looked like a central vacuum. I can still hear her saying “WTF is this?!”, then silly pictures ensued. Turns out, it was a hair dryer. What can I say, we’re both naturally blonde.
To my Laurpoo — CONGRATULATIONS GIRL!! I never thought the day would come when you’d actually be finished school! And now, in exactly one month you’ll be starting your career as a Doctor in Melbourne. You’re bloody brilliant and I’m honoured to have you in my life to smack sense into me whenever I need it (which has been often throughout our twenty-nine years of knowing each other). Love you and miss you. Go show them Aussies what “bad-ass from West Hill” looks like 😉