Ok Chloe, you asked for it;
Our trip to Cuba;
WE hadn’t planned this trip, our friends (Therese & Gary’s) son is getting married in Cuba next July and they were going to this resort to make arrangements for the wedding. On the Wednesday a week before their departure they asked us if we would like to go along. Betty was able to get the time off and “selloff vacations.com” had an all inclusive, with airfare for just over $700.00 cdn. a person “all in”, so we jumped on it.
On Friday Nov. 18th we drove from Cornwall to Montreal, about a 1 hour drive at 3:00 AM for our 6:10 AM direct flight to Cayo Coco, Cuba. Three hours later we were off the plane in sunny 90’ weather. The immigration and customs seemed pretty much the same as in any other country we have visited. We had brought almost one whole suitcase of toys, candies and children’s clothing for friends of Therese & Gary, and the customs officer had a few questions about these items mixed in with my other clothes.
After the 20 minutes or so in this process we were greeted outside by a group of Cuban dancers and musicians then on to nice A/C (that’s air conditioned, not Ambergris Kaye) coaches for the 15 minute trip to the El Senador resort. You can find all about the place with pictures at http://www.el-senador.com/en/index.shtml
, most of their pictures are better than ours and this way I don’t have to upload them.
We spent the afternoon unpacking, getting our bearings (which wasn’t a problem as our friends had been here a couple of times before) then a stop at the beachside restaurant for a late lunch and our first look and dip in the ocean.
This was Betty and my first time at an all inclusive, and getting used to having anything to drink and eat on the menu was a treat. The food was great and the beer was cold and quite similar to Belikan, believe it or not, (must have something to do with the Caribbean wheat or water). One thing I did find different was the hamburgs are made with ,,,,, you guessed it ,,,,Ham. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the resort and sunning around the pool right in front of our suites.
This resort was built in 2001 by a group of Montreal hokey players including Mario Lemieux who was nicknamed “the senator” hence the name El Senador.
During the week we tried all the specialty restaurants, every bar on the site, (haha) enjoyed a different live show each evening and generally relaxed.
On Monday evening Therese & Gary’s friend, Frank, who is a representative for Sunquest Tours, picked us up and drove us the 35 miles to the closest city (about 60,000 people) “Moron” where he and his wife Imy live with their two children. As their home is too small for a dinner for 20 people, they had arranged for a sumptuous dinner in a restaurant which is in a couples home which has been converted to a type of “bed and breakfast”. The meal was spectacular with lobster, fish, pork prepared in sauces and seasonings I can’t describe with fresh vegetables and for desert a flan you could die for. The reason for the big group at supper was so we could meet as many friends as possible in the short time we had in town and Therese & Gary were making plans for a wedding party to be held in the town next July. That evening was spent sorting toys, candies and clothes to be given to our new friends and neighbours children the next day. Oh by the way at about 7:00 PM the power went off to most the homes in the city, but the street lights and emergency services stayed on. This is done quite regularly all over Cuba as they are in the process of installing new generators and power grid, Frank started a small gas generator and we had enough power for lights and TV for the kids, the power returned about 10:00PM.
On Tuesday we were up fairly early for ham, eggs and veggies for breakfast, then off to visit more friends and distribute some of the goodies. Just before lunch we headed north to “Mayajigua” another city of about 50,000 people and stopped at a restaurant on “Laguna de la Leche” the largest fresh water lake in Cuba for a beer (of course) and then on to “Chambas”, a university town, where many students come from all over the world to study agriculture. A short stop for lunch at a palapa type restaurant in Chambas as we waited for Frank’s brother to join us for the rest of the trip to Mayajigua. Just a note, Betty and I picked up the tab for lunch which included chicken, fish, burgers and such, oh and beer of course, the total for 7 adults and 2 children was about $50.00, beer and all. We now had a group of 10 people and Frank’s Toyota couldn’t hold us all, Frank’s brother rolled up in a 1956 Desoto, fully restored by Frank and his brother and we enjoyed the smooth floating ride the next 30 miles to Mayajigua. Arriving at Frank’s parents home we were greeted by parents, cousins, children and neighbours and it was like Christmas as we doled out the candies, toys and clothing to the delight and squeals of happy children. We had also brought things like Tylenol, toothbrushes, cosmetics and other medicines and toiletries that are difficult to get there. As expected about 6:00PM the power went off but this time we were treated to flashlights, lanterns and candles. About 7:00 we took our tearful leave of our newfound friends and headed back to Moron where Frank picked up some clothes as he was staying overnight at our resort, and headed back to the ElSenador.
The security check at the entrance to the causeway was a quick look into our car without even asking for passports and a pleasant wave goodnight. We arrived just in time to have supper before the 9:00PM closing of the Buffet, then to the evening show and off to bed for a well deserved rest.
The power never went off at the resort as they are situated on a series of keys, (Cayo in Spanish), which are connected to the mainland by a 23 mile causeway and have their own power source.
The rest of the week was spent just relaxing around the pool, playing Ping-Pong, swimming and drinking beer (of course), the girls took dancing lessons and enjoyed massages and pampering. Betty and I even introduced the bartenders to “Panty Rippers” after they were able to obtain Coconut Rum and a couple of nights were quite “frisky” around the bar nearest our suites (the closest to stagger home from).
All in all it was a wonderful experience, the cities are very clean but in desperate need of paint, the average people don’t have cars and the main transportation in town is “traxis” which are an elongated tricycle with the driver up front and two seats in back with a roof over top, something like a rickshaw, they are all over the place. The people are warm and friendly and we didn’t find the police presence any more prevalent than in Mexico.
We brought back cigars and Cuban coffee (which I have been sipping as I write this epistle).
I hope you enjoy our travelogue and although U.S.A. citizens are not allowed to go to Cuba, a trip to a major border city in Canada will provide you with direct flights to Cuba and they don’t stamp your passport.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, or if it is personal, just click on the little envelope with the two people at the title of this page.
Thanks for letting us share;