A Week In The Caribbean

With sand on my feet and salt in my hair, I (and my family) conquered Cuba. It all felt like home, really. The rush of warm breeze welcomed us as soon as we got off the plane and I instantly got caught up in nostalgia. We stayed at Hotel Be Live Turquesa in Varadero, a town in Matanzas, Cuba that is known for its resorts.

Welcome aboard. That's the hotel entrance you're seeing.
Welcome aboard. That’s the hotel entrance you’re seeing.
Not your typical hotel. These pale yellow two-storey buildings scattered all over the property served as our home for one week.
Not your typical hotel. These pale yellow two-storey buildings scattered all over the property served as our home for one week.

Palm trees everywhere. This area lead to Varadero beach.
Palm trees everywhere. This area lead to Varadero beach.

The hotel offered various activities all throughout the week to keep everyone entertained. And if one wanted to explore beyond the hotel borders, several excursions were also available such as Trip to Havana, Swimming with Dolphins, and Snorkelling in Coral Beach.

Stiltwalkers dancing to a Cuban song. I wonder how long it took them to master the art of stiltwalking.
Stiltwalkers dancing to a Cuban song. I wonder how long it took them to master the art of stiltwalking.
Ariba, ariba
Ariba, ariba

They said May was a perfect time to visit Cuba, weather-wise, and so we were blessed with sun and suntan. To be honest, I am not a big fan of heat, but a quick dip in the pool or a stroll in the beach offered quick relief. And there were free drinks everywhere, too.

Where is Mr Sun? It did rain a couple of times while we were there, but only for a short period.
Where is Mr Sun? It did rain a couple of times while we were there, but only for a short period.
It was mostly sunny. Hence, suntan.
It was mostly sunny. Hence, suntan.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Cuba:

  1. Wifi. Not all hotels provide wifi. If anything, it comes with a fee (that is pricey) and is only available in select areas. In Hotel Turquesa, Internet cards were sold at USD 2.50 each and only accessible in the main lobby and by the pool area.
  2. Stars. If you’re picky with hotels, choose one that’s either four or five-star. A three-star hotel still looks acceptable in other countries, but the standards are different in Cuba. Don’t get your hopes up.
  3. Tips. Always have some change with you. Don’t be stingy. In Cuba, your two quarters will go a long way.
  4. Tumblers. Beat the heat by always carrying water with you. Some hotel rooms do not provide potable water so in order to avoid having countless trips to the bar, stock up with water using your own water containers.
  5. Tissue. For all the girls who can’t pee-pee without tissue, bring some with you especially when you’re going out for a trip. But if it doesn’t annoy you to pay for a couple of folded bathroom tissue then never mind.

Seven days and a hundred piña coladas later, we made our way back to Maple Land, each one of us equipped with beautiful memories. My favourite memory was the kindness and simplicity of the Cuban people. It’s very humbling. It kind of reminds me not to worry too much and just live in the present.

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