The Cuba Chronicles

IMG_1761

I try to keep this site from just being a log of our day-to-day activities but I don’t think it would hurt to occasionally use this space to chronicle our family’s adventures without getting into an argument or broader theme.

We just returned from our family’s first beach getaway with the little guy and his Oma and Grandpa, and it was awesome. Here is a rapid-fire summary of some of the little moments that stand out:

Saturday

Our flight takes off around 7:00, which is bedtime, but Egg is determined. He’s a lot bigger now than on his first flight (to P.E.I. last fall) and doesn’t want to miss a thing. He spends the whole flight squirming, looking around and chatting.

As mom holds him up to take his little immigration mug shot, Egg must look suspicious because the border control agent hems and haws and frowns and fusses with her computer before letting him through.

We check into the resort around 11:00 and find that the crib we reserved for him is an older, shabbier version of the playpen we have for him at home. This isn’t going to fly for the night, so Egg checks into mom’s side of the bed. Dad heads out for drink.

IMG_5725

Sunday

It’s chilly outside – we’re at the tail end of the big snow storm that blanketed the eastern U.S. – but it’s a good day for wandering around and getting the lay of the land. There are signs for a mini golf but the course appears to have vanished, and the “archery range” looks like an actual set from the Hunger Games.

But the beach is stunning. A bit chilly for swimming but we hung out on the beach for as long as we could, and after a nurse the little guy snuggles up with mom for a cozy nap.

IMG_1763

Monday

A few days in, it dawns on me that buffet dining is the perfect remedy for a picky, unpredictable little eater. Loads of people had warned me about the food in Cuba but I find it to be just fine, and Egg is over the moon at all the possibilities.

The resort is very kid-friendly; we spend some time hanging around a playground and splash in the kiddy pool. He doesn’t have the balance (or confidence?) to walk on his own yet but will saunter along for hundreds of meters as long as he has a hand to hold onto.

Quarters in our room are a little cramped and we’re still learning how to handle getting him to bed at a reasonable hour while still getting to enjoy a bit of our evenings. A breakthrough: the walk-in closet becomes the kid’s very own bedroom!

IMG_1788

Tuesday

We’re in full-on vacation mode, and spend the day shuttling back and forth between the kiddy pool and the beach, maxing and relaxing. The day is gorgeous and life is very good.

At first I thought it was really crummy that the resort offers no free wifi at all; but I find myself feeling incredibly refreshed and lightened by the internet’s absence.

Our first à la carte dinner of the week is a Benihana-style Japanese place. Egg loves the show; the entertainment value more than makes up for the lack of variety in the food. The guy sitting next to me has a buddy with small kids and has never taken them on a trip before…this friend asked my neighbour to report on how hard it might be to travel with kids. My reply: “No harder than everyday life, man!” But on further reflection we tell him the limitless food, not having to clean up dishes or the bedroom, all the entertainment options make the days very easy indeed. Like I said, life is very good.

Wednesday

On the rare days when a particularly early appointment requires us to set an alarm and wake up on our schedule rather than Egg’s, mom and I both take a grim satisfaction in turning the tables and rousing the little guy from his peaceful slumber. This morning we’re off to Havana!

The bus ride is long, like 2 1/2 hours, but thankfully Oma and Grandpa are along for the ride so the kid can be passed back and forth between us. Like on the flight in, it’s party time on the bus with lots to say and see.IMG_1868

Historical Havana is gorgeous, really a sight to see, but not of much interest to a one-year-old. Still, he rides along like a champ, taking in the sights and sounds. Highlights of the day include drinks in Ernest Hemingway’s old hangout the Hotel Ambos Mundos, wandering around the stunning Colon Cemetery and visiting the Revolutionary Square.

 

IMG_1907

 

Thursday

More fun on the beach, more fun at the playground, more fun in the pool. Life is good.

By now, Egg has girlfriends in every section of every restaurant on the resort. We had a glimpse of his flirtatiousness a couple of months ago but now it is becoming a real part of his personality: he becomes fixated on particular people (almost always ladies) and knows how to smile and make eyes at them to bring them in closer and get positive attention for himself. I don’t know where he got the charm from – certainly not from me – but he knows how to work it.

We’ve long given up on trying to maintain his regular bedtime of 7:00pm. The new routine is to have him in his pyjamas by 8:30 then pack him into the stroller and walk around the resort until he passes out. We can then drape a sheet over the stroller and enjoy the evening ourselves. Parenting win.

Friday

More fun at the beach, playground and pool? I don’t even remember. The days blend together, wonderful for their uneventfulness.

I know that Egg kept practicing his walking around, and he kept charming people left and right. He enjoyed having time to hang out alone with Grandpa and Oma just as much as we enjoyed the chances to fully relax free of parenting responsibilities. He starts to really get the hang of playing in the sand, and loves it.

IMG_1774

Saturday

We have one last day on the resort, heading out around 6:30. Mom and I leave the kid with his grandparents and skip off to the beach for a last swim in the ocean, then we spend the balance of the day like we spent the rest of the week: doing whatever, enjoying the place and each other’s company.

A bus packed with now-familiar faces takes us to the Varadero airport. The airport is not a good advertisement for the efficiency of the communist system. Line-ups to go through immigration are at least 20 families deep, and barely moving. There are three lines that have signs indicating they are dedicated to the disabled and families with children, but those lines are just as packed with adult couples and moving just as slowly. I would have probably shrugged and miserably waited it out but my lady, fierce wolf-mama that she is, isn’t having any of it. She leads our party to the front of one of the kids’ lines, bringing two other young families behind us. So we’re through..

(Later on, a guy we recognized from the resort asked if we had some kind of VIP access to get through the lines. All the VIP access we needed was my baby-momma.)

Compared to all our previous travel, the flight is a breeze. The kid snoozes peacefully from tarmac to tarmac, then again for the cab ride home. We make it back to our little home around 4am guessing (correctly) that the bugger will have us up by 7:00.

IMG_1935

And that’s the story of this adventure. Traveling with a little one is a dream, and now our challenge is to determine where we’ll head next.

 

One response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *