A Blissful Week of Rum, Reading and Relaxation
I consider myself a traveler. An explorer. Not a holiday maker. I get to know a place. I explore new cultures and discover what makes them special. I go on adventures and whirlwind tours and there is never enough time to see it all…
But this year I was completely worn down.
Work had exhausted me and personal life situations had me stressed. I was tired. I knew it had become a real problem when, in January, I had a few friends ask me expectantly “So Nys, where are you heading to this year?” and my answer, for the first time in a long time was “I don’t know…”
I hadn’t given it any thought yet and in my mind I was thinking Are you crazy? I’m way too tired to even think about planning another trip!
And that’s when I knew I was in trouble. Too tired? Too tired?
WHO HAD I EVEN BECOME?!
2016 would be the year I finally gave in and embraced the Canadian tradition of escaping the bitter cold by running away to an all-inclusive Caribbean beach. I had never done this before in all of my adult life. Spending a whole week at a resort lying around on a beach that resembled a tourist smorgasbord seemed like such a waste of my precious vacation days, especially when there was so much of the world still to see. But suddenly the idea of doing absolutely nothing seemed like the perfect solution.
It was decided.
It would be the ideal way to relax: laze around, catch up on my reading, soak up the sun and get a tan (ha ha just kidding, tanning isn’t one of my strong points). I would go to Cuba. This was without question. It was the one Caribbean destination I’d always had interest in, and with the embargo ending sooner seemed better than later if I wanted to see it before it became saturated with Americans. Plus it was cheap!
So, I packed up my suitcase (not my backpack) full of more clothing and shoes than I ever normally travel with, enlisted my cousin Kendra (who was more than happy to be swept away with me) and hopped onto our Air Transat flight to the gorgeous island of Cayo Coco. After much research (thanks Kendra) an deliberation we had opted to go with Iberostar Mojito. It wasn’t until we were on the shuttle bus to the resort that I found out that Cayo Coco was an island made entirely of resorts and that no Cuban’s lived there. The nearest town of interest was about 2 hours away. My heart sank at this; a part of me had still hoped to incorporate just a little bit of Cuban culture into the fly and flop experience. Oh well…
It was after 1 am when,starving, we finally made it to the little snack bar at the resort (there’d been no meal service on the plane – not even complimentary wine)! We wolfed down some delightfully tasty hot dogs and our first Mojito of the week and decided the time had finally come to check out the beach.
It. was. perfect.
The sand was white and powder soft, the ocean gorgeously clear and turquoise. Overall, the beach was positively pristine. It was everything I needed.
I was delightfully surprised to discover that Cuba itself is significantly more stunning than I’d anticipated. On an adventure/excitement scale I’d give the trip about a 1 out of 10 (10 being very exciting). Our days were very lazy and consisted mostly of the following: wake up, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and cappuccino, and then start the daily sunscreen marathon before heading down to paradise, er I mean, the beach to laze around all day. Many piña coladas were had. Much swimming occurred. Beach naps were the norm.
To our credit we did get out for one dive. I found the coral and fish to be a tad lack-luster but I still adored being back under the sea again. We also enjoyed the complimentary use of the resort’s catamaran, which was a great time. Our captain was funny and genuinely shocked by how white I was despite it being one of our last days.
It wasn’t a cultural experience, but I hadn’t expected it to be. At the end of the day, I don’t feel that I now know Cuba like I feel I know Costa Rica or Thailand or one of the many other places I’ve traveled. But it was restful and wonderful in its own right and it was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries for my next big adventure!
(I’m thinking Nepal…)
Thank you for reading!
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The Low Down on the Resort: Iberostar Mojito
Overall, the resort itself was fine. I didn’t think there was anything widely special about it (it was a 3.5 star property after all), but I also didn’t feel there was anything incredibly offensive about it either.
– For the most part the staff were all super friendly
– The beach was close to perfect and we never had a problem getting lounge chairs
– The 24 hour snacks were enjoyable (especially the ham/cheese toasties)
– The buffet was fine (I’ve heard some horror stories about Cuban food) with made to order eggs, pancakes, french toast, pasta, meats, etc
– The Cigar Lounge was a great place to hang out
– There was an adults only pool
– They ran out of towels! And they didn’t just run out of towels – They ran out of towels for 3 days! To me this is pretty unacceptable for a beach resort.
– Their a la cartes were unimpressive. They had two: The Gourmet Restaurant and the Italian/International Restaurant. The Italian/Intercontinental was alright, but nothing special. The Gourmet was downright inedible. Of our three course meal nothing was freshly prepared and while we hated to be wasteful we had to send everything back for fear of food poisoning. This was a disappointment.
– It was a bit run down with a lot of cracked tiles – that sort of thing