Yeah, I know this is long overdue, get over it, life has been busy.
Our second day in Cuba was the first of our excursions, this one the catamaran cruise. We were to meet in the lobby for 7:30 to board the bus to the marina. What they don’t tell you is that EVERY excursion meets in the lobby between 7:15 and 7:45. AND the airport bus pulls in at 7:30. So you have scads of people milling around, some with tons of luggage, and as every bus pulls in there’s surge of people towards the door, but then they all fall back as the word goes through the crowd – just the jeep safari bus. Well, the jeep safari folk are happy, and they wend their way through the crowds to board the bus as the rest of us sigh and settle back to wait.
I have to say, I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED the catamaran cruise. I love the water anyway, and to be out on such a beautiful part of the ocean was simply exhilarating. It was a mixed group, mostly young adults, but there were some young families, and also some older folk like us. The first stop was above a reef, and those who chose to could go snorkeling. One of the few times I’ve regretted not being able to swim. Stephen has been snorkeling many times before, so stayed on the boat, and there were lots of others who chose not to, so at least I didn’t feel centered out by being the only one still on the boat.
The next stop was for lunch – yes, we were out on the water a long time getting there. We pulled in at a beautiful beach and had lunch in an open air restaurant. Lunch was lobster or chicken, rice and some root thing that tasted a lot like potato. I am not a fan of lobster. As in, the smell of lobster – and most seafood – makes me feel nauseous. For some reason, I wasn’t bothered overly by the lobster at first, not until second helpings were brought for those who wanted them. These were more freshly cooked and steaming hot, and smelled more. I left the table at that point. This was the only meal the entire holiday in which I was disappointed. The chicken was overcooked to the point where the skin literally crumbled as you tried to remove it. The rice/beans mixture was barely warm, as was the potato thing.
I have to share this story…
After lunch I had to go to the bathroom. If you’ve ever been to Cuba you know that toilet paper comes at a price. Usually there is an attendant outside the bathroom with rolls of toilet paper, and she will tear you off some in exchange for a peso. Some of us were prepared though, and had taken toilet paper from the hotel in a ziplock baggie. Anyhow, I went in the bathroom. Imagine my surprise when I realized all the stall doors were very low – as in, barely reached the shoulders of an average person. Now, ordinarily this might not have been an issue, however, I had on a one piece bathing suit under my shorts and tshirt. How do you go to the bathroom when wearing a one piece bathing suit? Exactly. If I stood up straight while preparing to pee, the entire population of the bathroom would be treated to a view of parts generally kept undercover. So there I was, tshirt around my neck, feet apart, trying to crouch down to wriggle my bathing suit down so I could pee. There was nothing to do but laugh.
Mission accomplished, Stephen and I and two other couples our age set off for a walk along the beach. I simply don’t have words to describe it. The sand was so white in contrast to the beautiful turquoise water, which conveniently happened to have a picture perfect boat at just the right distance. The sun was hot, but not scorching, and the water was cool but not too cold as we waded out a bit.
Back on the boat, we set off for our next destination – the dolphin pens. Out in the ocean there are huge pens for the trained dolphins. Visitors can swim with them, if that’s part of your package, or you can simply go down onto a platform and be kissed by one. That’s what we – or rather I – chose to do. Stephen thought I was a bit nuts to let a huge fish with 84 razor sharp teeth get that close, but he encouraged me to go ahead if I wanted to. Remember the bathing suit under the clothes? This was the reason for that, so off came the tshirt and shorts, and I made my way down the ladder to the platform to stand with the others in my group. I was scared, because we had to stand quite close to the edge of the platform and I knew the water right off the edge was very deep – can we say ‘ocean’? – and I can’t swim. But I also figured if I fell off, Stephen would yell and someone would rescue me. The platform was covered in slimy algae, which at first felt very odd underfoot, but I discovered that if I kept my feet very still the algae acted as a sort of glue and actually helped me keep my footing better.
We got to stroke the dolphin, and check out his teeth, which he obligingly bared for us, and then he went through and kissed each one of us. The trainer showed us where to stand, and how to bend over towards the dolphin. That was a test run, because he went through a second time and this time there was a professional photographer on hand to capture the moment. I was amazed that the dolphin would hold so steady, his nose just touching your cheek, and wait patiently for the signal to move on. It gave the photographer time to get gorgeous photos. (ten pesos) We were able to pick up the photo in the lobby of our hotel that night, and I have to say, I honestly think it’s the best photo I’ve ever had taken of myself.
After this we headed back to shore. Which took a couple hours, because we were a long way out after all. And since the bar had been open since we set out….and the alcohol was included in the price of the tour…..and most of the people aboard had no qualms about consuming copious quantities of free booze….it was a very entertaining trip home!
Back at the resort we changed for dinner, stuffed our faces with lots of yummy things, and then went to the nightly show at the theater. After that we crashed and slept like logs till the alarm went off the next morning for our day in Havana!