Monday, October 26, 2009

Cuba Part 2

I had a full week with all my family and friends, and to be honest, I was pretty lazy!
My days where pretty consistent, woke up between 7:30 and 8:30, went and had breakfast, off to the Internet cafe for about 30 minutes, then headed to the beach. I snorkeled twice, would have done more but a couple of the mornings where a bit rough and so the water was murky, and I didn't like going out alone so I always waited for someone. Both times I went, I went with my dad, the first time we saw a massive eel - I was proud to have spotted him first, he was pretty cool as he had his head out of his home opening and closing his mouth - I think he was hungry, so I stayed away!! And of course dad didn't bring his camera!! That was the only exciting thing we saw, but I can never get enough of the coral just meters from the shore!!! I would then laze around the beach, catching up with everyone until noon time when we would head into the beach bar/cafe for lunch. I wasn't always that hungry, but we where drinking pretty much all day, and I though it was a good idea to have something small, so I usually had a hot dog or a pizza. The afternoon we usually headed up to the pool - there is only so much sand I can take, plus the pool was always refreshing to jump into! We where at the resort during their Oktoberfest event, so there was always games or something going on. I didn't participate that much, but did in a couple of events. Thursday and Friday they cooked up sausages and you could get any of there main beers from a can (much better then the draft they served!). We usually had super at 7pm when the buffet opened, and there was different theme nights; seafood, Italian, Cuban, international ect. We went to the sit down restaurant our last night together, Saturday, and had a fabulous 3 course meal - seafood appy, ravioli, and garlic prawns as my main, oh so yummy!!
After dinner we would head upstairs to the piano bar, where we would have Spanish coffees, chat, and listen to the pianist playing. At 9:15 was the show, which we caught most of the shows except one as we where too busy chatting and then too tired and so we headed off to bed. The shows consisted of fashion shows, a show that was done in the pool, and other theme dances usually performed by dancers not working on the resort. By that point I was usually exhausted - was it jet leg? was it the heat? probably a combination, but I was usually in bed and asleep by 10:30!

Now there where a couple of days that didn't quite follow this itinerary. On Tuesday was Mom and Dad's renewal of their wedding vows. It was at 2pm on the grass in front of the beach, so after our lunch we all headed off to our rooms to get ready. It was a beautiful set up with flowers made into a heart where Mom and Dad stood during the ceremony. The band played a Cuban song as they walked to the front and the ceremony was done in Spanish then repeated in English. Dad said his vows first, then Mom, and I think by the end we where all in tears! It was very very nice. Afterwards we all had champagne and a toast to mom and dad plus some amanzing chocolate cake!! After taking some pictures, actually lots of pictures, we all changed and where off to the pool!! We where scheduled to have dinner at 6:30 and none of us felt like staying in our nice outfits, so we all chilled in the pool till we had to get ready again. I don't think any of us minded as it was a beautiful hot sunny day, so it was nice to chill out in the pool, and of course have a couple drinks! There where 2 weddings that day and we all had supper at the same time, which was again a three course meal, dessert, PLUS another cake (a flan specially made for mom by here favorite chef!). We where all pretty stuffed afterwards! We followed our usually plan of heading to the piano bar for some Spanish coffees, but I was too full and just stuck with water!! What an amazing day and was so proud to see my parents renewing their vows after 30 years!

The other day was Saturday afternoon where mom, dad, laura, rachel, rance, diana and myself all hailed a taxi and went into the closest town of Santa Cruz. One of the entertainers lives there and she was kind enough to invite us over to her house. We arrived at about 1:30 and had a tour of her house - never judge a house by the outside!! Her house was beautiful and we got to meet her husband, daughter, mom, dad and brother. They made fresh tuna dip with crackers as well as a cake for my mom and dad - which she was very proud to have put chocolate icing on (it is mucho mucho expensive to get chocolate). We went for a walk in town and saw her mom's house as well as some of the shops - it helped that they where air conditoned as it was a very hot afternoon. I felt very honoured to have been invited to a Cubans home and see a little bit of what it is like to live in Cuba. Such an honour that not many people get to experience! Thank you!!!

The family left Sunday afternoon after lunch and my flight was the next morning at 7am - a lovely 4am wake up call. Seeing the family off was very sad but was so glad that I got to be there and would have been more sad to hve missed the whole thing all together. That day was a pretty crappy day - very very windy, cloudy and on and off rain all day. After they left I spend the day in the room, and had supper with Roberta and Frank who where there for another week. I didn't go to the show that evening as I needed to pack, and tried to go to bed as early as possible. But that didn't go as planned - I was so worried I'd sleep through my alarm I was up every 20 minutes after 1am. My flights to LA where pretty good, other then getting sick of waiting in airports!! I had to recheck my bag in Cancun and when I arrived in LA I noticed I was missing the small backpack that zips onto my main one. It had all my sunscreen that mom had given to me, some of my dirty clothes and other miscellaneous things. The worst thing, it didn't have a bag tag on it as it was ATTACHED to my main bag by 2 zippers on either side of and a clip at the top - how it came off, I have NO idea. Anyways, they put a search in for it. My only saving grace is that I put a piece of paper in the front part that has my Australian address and phone number. Who knows if I will ever see it again?! I was informed that if they didn't find it in a week, they would mail me the claims form to fill out.
Anyways, I had a night and a full day in LA...... so I went shopping!!! I took the express bus into a popular shopping center and bought some more sunscreen - it is almost impossible to get anything less the SPF 30 in Australia, so I picked up a few SPF 15 and 12. I also found a wicked deal on an Olympus waterproof/shockproof camera plus I got some accessories. I headed to the airport for the last part of my flights to Brisbane. It left on time and I again sat next to a nice couple, and I once again was able to sleep for about 7 or 8 hours. But oh was I glad to have finally landed 2 days later!!!

All in all, an amazing trip, despite the flights and Mexicana losing half my bag, and once I get a chance to load pictures, I will!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Heehee, what a surprise it was.
You see it was my parents 30th wedding anniversary in September, and about a year ago they agreed that they would renew their wedding vows in Cuba this October. I was going to miss it though because I was going to be in Australia.....or so everyone thought. Mom and I briefly discussed flying me out to Cuba as a surprise, but we didn't make any definite plans. When I arrived in Darwin in June we looked into it and within a week it was booked!! I would arrive earlier then them so I could surprise them when they arrived at the hotel, and it would be the best surprise EVER!! I have to admit, mom had it worse then me as she saw and spoke to everyone about the trip, and the poor thing couldn't say a thing!!!
I left Brisbane on Oct 9th, a Friday, and arrived in LA the same day, earlier then when I left - such a weird feeling. I had 16 hours at the airport and do you think I could find Internet??? Nope, nothing, they had WiFi, but of course I didn't bring my laptop! SO, I rented a room at the Holiday Inn, which was conveniently across the way of an Internet cafe! Now, the difficult thing about my flights was the fact that I was flying to Cuba, via the States. Supposedly I had a completely different itinerary for LA to Mexico so the USA didn't know my final destination was Havana. Well, I get to the check-in counter in LA, and sure enough they knew my final destination!!! The girl went and spoke to her manager (great I'm thinking) but when she came back she just said she could only check my bags to Cancun. Fine, that's totally alright with me!!!
I then flew to Mexico City at 2300 Friday night, and had a horrible aisle seat. I am very picky about flying and really prefer to have a window seat as I like to keep my feet up and I can also lean against the window. Needless to say, I had a horrible 4 hour flight as I couldn't sleep. I arrived in Mexico at like 6am, and had a few hours to kill. I actually thought the airline had lost my bag as I thought I had to take my bags through customs and then drop them off again to be sent to Cancun, but no, I found out that they where checked all the way through and I didn't need to take them through customs......why can't every airport operate the same??!!!! I then had a shorter 2 hour flight to Cancun, where I then had to pick up my bag, and check it in again to Havana!! After another 3 or 4 hour wait, I got on my last flight and was off to Havana. It was a nice short, one hour flight and it was so nice to land in Cuba!! But, it wasn't quite over, I still had an hour drive to the resort!! I had a cab come pick me up and I was at the resort by about 5:30. I was so relieved to be there, and even had a bit of a cry when I got to my room!! Amazing how jet leg makes you feel!! I was feeling very very tired, and not sleeping much the night before didn't help, so I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to bed. I don't think I lasted 5 minutes before nodding off, well actually, probably passing out as I didn't move until about 8:30 the next day!
Sunday was probably the longest day EVER waiting for my family to arrive. They where estimated to arrive at the 5:30 so I had all day to wait. After having breakfast i headed to the pool and hung out there, all day, waiting! At about 5 o'clock i couldn't wait any longer and headed up to the foyer. I put an order for drinks in for the family, and waited, and waited. At about 5:45 the bus finally showed up! I was hiding beside the bar and mom spotted me right away. I found this couple that I started talking to and I got one of the girls to video it on my camera. Once they all got there bags out and where checking in, I snuck in behind them all and once I got close enough I said "excuse me, could you help me", they all looked up and the looks on their faces was priceless - it could have been a Mastercard commercial!! I started to cry right away, and gave everyone hugs. As I was giving my dad a hug he still couldn't believe it was me, I think he looked at me about 3 times, and was still speechless. It total there was 8 of them on the bus, Mom, Dad, my sister Laura, her friends Rance and Rachel, my god parents Brad and Lisa, and my Dad's aunt, Diana. After everyone checked in and got somewhat settled, we all went in for some supper, then went for drinks and coffee at the infamous Piano Bar! Ah it was nice to be back in paradise with the people I love!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hello Brisbane!!!

I have arrived safe and sound in Brisbane, but missing Darwin like crazy, well, more missing Rob. Rob took me for a nice meal at an Indian/Thia/Malay restaurant before he took me to the airport at midnight last night. For some reason Darwin likes to have all their flights leaving and landing in the middle of the night. My flight left at 0110 and I arrived in Brissy at about 0500. Saying goodbye to Rob was really, really, really hard, but I know I will be seeing him in about 6 weeks, and I'm sure the time will fly by - I hope so anyways!!!! Thank goodness for texting and facebook chat!!!
I didn't get that much sleep on the plane so when I arrived at my friends place, we had a couple beers then he went to bed - as he just finished working a night shift, I put on a movie (of course after checking my facebook account) and feel asleep for a mini nap myself. 4 and half hours later I finally decided it was time to get up!!! Oh yeah, and might i add it was 13 degrees when we landed this morning.......can I say BRRRRR!!! :) I got up and decided to check out a bit of Brisbane. Shannon lives about 30km's from town so i more or less checked out the community he lives in, which is 3 blocks from the water!!! I took my book and music and headed to the water to enjoy life! I spend the better part of three hours there, walking around and reading. It was getting close to sunset so I decided to stay and watch the sun set behind the distant mountains. I can never get over a sunset and it was beautiful. I headed back to the house - after stopping for some beer of course and am just chilling out!!! I have a couple other friends in Brisbane which I will probably see over the weekend, so for now, it just relaxing and watching movies on Shannon's 42inch TV!! Shannon has to work tonight as well so its just me myself and I. I have Old School, Mr & Mrs, Smith and Transformers planned for the evening! Life's allright (apart from missing Rob!!)