Sunday, 20 May 2007

We're baaaaccckkkkk.....

Oh, how you've missed me, I know! But fret not my pretties - I am home, I'm back on the blog, and I am tanned.

I'm still not pregnant and I'm bearing eight pounds of salt retention water weight, but I am tanned. Okay, okay - it's not really eight pounds and it's not all due to the insanely high salt content of the Cuban food. It might also have something to do with the Cuban ice cream and Cuban cocktails. But hey, like I said, I am tanned.

Where to begin? I don't want to make this a marathon post as I'm still recovering from what has been a busy weekend since our return, but how can I not take this opportunity to regale you with all of the various ins and outs of our week in the sun?

Hmmm....I guess the beginning is a very good place to start. So. Friday we head to the airport. We're stupid early so of course, everything runs like clockwork and we sail through everything quickly and effortlessly. Had we been in a rush it would have been a nightmare but no - we make it to the airport FOUR HOURS before our flight is scheduled to leave. And I'm not talking about the parking lot - no no, dear divas, I'm talking about landing right smack in the middle of Terminal 3 four flipping hours before we're due to take off. Sigh. Off to the bar we go.

Yadda yadda yadda, time flies (it's like I need a work song or a montage scene a la Team America to get us from the bar to the resort - show the passage of time in one three minute series of clips...) and before you know it, it's almost one in the morning and we pull up to Sol Cayo Coco.

It's one in the morning, and it's hot. Sticky hot. Steamy hot. Ahhhhhh steamy hot. Hubs is not amused.

Now, I am nothing if not my mother's daughter, so I make sure that once we leave the airport we get the first row of seats on the bus so we can be the first off therefore the first to the check in counter, then first to our rooms and, of course, first to the bar after we've dropped off our stuff in said room.

While at the counter, I mention that we're on our honeymoon (well, our southern honeymoon since we already had our European honeymoon - I just left out the word southern when talking to the nice lady) and she kinda grunted as she handed us our room key. Okay then, no worries, we were quite content to have the room we booked and paid for, but I would have to turn in my diva membership card if I didn't at least give it the old college try.

Off we shuffle to find our room and all is rosy until we hit the staircase and realize that I have to haul my 40lbs suitcase to the third floor. Ugh. I immediately dispatch Hubs to the desk to see if we can get a ground floor room - this diva does not enjoy stairs, suitcase or no! He returns with a message that we can change in the morning, but they can't do anything for us now. Okay, fine. Whatever.

Clunk, clunk, clunk. Yes, that's the sound of me hauling my load to the top floor.

We enter our surprisingly spacious room, turn on the lights and are pleasantly surprised to see a king sized bed. We had paid for a standard room - so 'garden view' with two double beds. So far, so good. We drop the bags and look around, and as I open the curtains I let out a wee whoop of glee - an ocean view! On two walls - a double ocean view!! And then it dawns on me - we did get an upgrade! How nice of these lovely people! I guess I can handle the stairs for a king bed and a room with a view!! Here's how things looked from our balcony:

The green thing you see on the railing is a grasshopper made from a palm leaf. Crafty devils, those Cuban gardeners. We were going to use him as our version of the Travelocity gnome and plop him into all of our pictures but uh, we kinda forgot. So this was his great moment of glory. Poor palmy grasshopper.

Anywho, needless to say, we never changed rooms, we were quite content to stay where we were, stairs and all.

The week that followed was full of sun, rain, sand, drinks, laughs, naps, bad commercials for Colgate in Spanish, pulled meat, sunscreen, trying to find a breeze for Hubs, drinks...and trying to get money for us to live on.

Sigh....yes, you're about to hear the one really shitty aspect of our trip. Blech. Brace yourselves.

So, before we leave, Hubs asks me how much cash I'm going to be bringing. I tell him we won't need much, just enough to get out of the country and have a bit extra, but I'm bringing my Visa and we'll put our excursions on it, buy our souvenirs, etc with it. No big whoop. I don't like traveling with a lot of cash and I had checked to make sure that Visa was accepted where I needed it to be, and it was.

Except in Cuba, anytime you use a credit card as a tourist, you have to show your passport. This is a federal law in the country. Okay, I have a passport, but it's still in my maiden name - one of those things that I haven't changed yet because I can still travel with it, and it comes due next year so I was just going to do it then.

Bad idea jeans. Especially because my credit cards are all in my married name, which of course doesn't match my passport. So no one would let me use my card. Ever. No matter what. I had our marriage certificate with me - didn't matter. The bank wouldn't do it. The stores wouldn't let me use it. The hotel wouldn't take it. The only guy that did was our tour rep - he used it to book our excursion 'cause I think he felt sorry for us. We were trapped - totally stuck. We needed 50 convertible pesos to get out of the country, and the Canadian dollar is worth about .75 pesos. I brought $160 in cash, and Hubs had $100 or something like that. Between us, we got 170 pesos, leaving us with 120 to spend while we were there.

Of course, we didn't realize this until the second day, after we had spent about 30 pesos on pop for the room, snacks, internet access, tips for the grasshopper making man and other staff throughout the resort. And our phone bill - Hubs was set to call DeeDee every other day, and when it's 2 pesos a minute, even super quick conversations add up quickly.

The biggest kick in the ass was the phone call to Visa, hoping they'd be able to help me, transfer some funds down, etc after I explained the situation. Yes, they accept collect calls, but it would still cost me the 2 pesos per minute to make the call. Weird logic, but it's not my country. So I bite the bullet, get on the phone, and call Montreal.

41 pesos later I'm finally off the phone and am in tears. Visa can't help me, even though by this point I've asked them for emergency funds as we really have no way to get funds while we're there, but they tell me they can't help me because they wire funds through a US company, 'and because of the political situation between Cuba and the US, Cuba won't accept the transfer'.

Awesome. That's $60 Canadian I've just flushed down the Cuban john and I have nothing to show for it. Boo-urns. So now we're down to very very little cash, and that sucks.

Now, yes, we did have enough to get out of the country and yes, it was an all inclusive so technically we didn't have to worry about food or drinks. But we also hadn't bought any souvenirs and we were going on a day trip that would be a hell of a lot better if we had some cash on hand.

Enter our guardian angels. I'm always constantly surprised at the kindness of strangers, and Nicky and Patricia came through for us in a big way.

As soon as they heard what had happened, without a question in their mind they offered to get us cash and we could pay them back once we landed. Not a moment's hesitation in making the offer or in trusting us to get it back to them. I was soooo relieved, you have no freakin idea. I had decided that I would not let the situation ruin our vacation no matter what, and having these girls come through for us was really icing on the cake. Thank flippin goodness.

Phew! After all that writing I had to take a break. Am back now from dinner (KFC - Hubs was craving it after seeing all the commercials for it while we were away...blech. Now I can go another 365 days without eating it again) and watching a movie (Catch and Release - hmmmm...Jennifer Garner is totally my celebrity girl crush hence why I wanted to see it, but aside from a few good lines, not sure how I feel about it...). Will try to revert back to where I was in my diatribe.

So yes, kindness of strangers. What great people they were - we hung out a lot. Every night at 8:30 we'd all (us, the two gals, a young couple from England and a 16 year old gay hair dresser in training, also from England) congregate in the lobby at a group of comfy chairs with the best possibility for breeze, so as to appease my quick-to-sweat husband. Then we'd take turns heading up to the bar and asking for 10 strawberry slushies with rum.

Needless to say, the bartenders hated us. Which kinda sucked, 'cause it saved them 10 separate drink orders, and we were all ordering the same thing. Bastards should have been grateful! But noooo.....hehehe. If only they'd get bigger glasses, we wouldn't have been back so often! Poor planning, I'd say. Allow this photo to serve as evidence. Yes, there are two other drinks there - they were the 'punishment' drinks for when some unsuspecting fool would break a rule in our nightly drinking games. And yes, that's Hubs' birthday cake, kindly provided to us by the resort along with a bottle of champagne. Snaps, Sol Melia hotels and resorts.

A few other noteworthy tidbits - Hubs' birthday was good fun. By the pool in addition to their lounge chairs, they also have one small section with four shaded areas - three have two lounge chairs, and one has a double bed mattress, raised on a w
ooden platform. Choice digs, man. And for the first four days we were there, some snippy young Brit kids with a stinking Sponge Bob beach towel had managed to snag said prime spot. Always up for a challenge, I was determined to snag this wee piece of heaven for Hubs and I on his birthday. So I got us a wake up call for 7am, threw on my shorts, and headed down to put our towels on the bed and therefore, via the universal vacation signal for 'this is mine - hands off', secured the spot. Victory was mine. We enjoyed it all day long. Success is sweet. The funniest part? The kids snagged the spot right next to us - guess they wanted to sit and stare at the folks who stole their place. Hehehehe. Stare on, child. Stare on.

Break number two...DeeDee just hit me in the back of the head with the Wii remote as she was playing a vigorous game of tennis. Ouch. Poor kid is upstairs crying her eyes out. Me, I'm okay...just realize that if I stutter or don't make much sense, it's because of my recent head
injury. Get it? Guud.

The only real craptastic element to Hubs' birthday came just before dinner. We'd finally figured out how to best call home so he could talk to DeeDee and they chatted for a bit,
he chatted with Sludge...then they hung up. Neither of them wishing him a happy birthday. The poor guy was devastated, but tried so hard to hide it from me because he didn't want me to feel bad when I was trying so hard to make sure he had a good day. Sigh. He'd gone so long without talking to her, then he finally hears her voice, waits to hear her say 'happy birthday, daddy!'...and it never comes.

I could have killed Sludge for not making sure she remembered and said something. For her birthday, he knew her family wouldn't do anything (even though they all live under the same roof) so he made sure DeeDee had a card, present AND cake for her on her birthday, even though he really couldn't have cared less - hell, he really didn't WANT to do anything for her,
but he knew it was the right thing to do.

And she, who wants nothing more than to be his best friend in the world, forgot it was his birthday. After complaining that he was going to be away for it in the first place, she totally
forgets on the actual day. Ugh.

So poor Hubs drags his carcass through dinner, puts on a happy face, then we go meet the gang at our regular spot, have the aforementioned cake and champagne, and we continue to drink our faces off. And then the young Brit couple, who've known Hubs for a grand total of four days, pull out a birthday present that they bought for him at the gift shop. I think it really hit
him hard then - total strangers being kind enough to actually buy him a present, and his ex couldn't even get DeeDee to wish him a simple happy birthday. Wow.

So yeah, that really sucked. He held it together though, quite well, and managed to make the
best of a hard situation. The beach helped.

Speaking of beach, check this out. Absolutely gorgeous. How can that not cure what ails you?

So, there's a basic rundown of how the week went down. Despite the bumps in the road it was a great ride, one that we'll remember for a good long time and will get us through the next few months of baby making fun times. Not that the attempts at baby making won't be good times, it's just all the waiting for results etc that suck. Same old, same old.

When all else fails, I'll just stare lovingly at the following two photographs, some of my faves of the entire trip. And so I share them with you, my dear diva readers, as a snack of thanks for staying with me if you've read through all my ranting and raving.

It's good to be back.

And that's your daily dash. How's your diva doin'?

2 comments on "We're baaaaccckkkkk....."

IrishGrl (Trish) said...

sounds like you had an awesome trip minus ur hubby's bday letdown! (and visa incident). how was the food there?

Chelle on 21 May 2007 at 20:35 said...

Sounds like a cure for what ails you for sure! Welcome back to the blogosphere!




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