A brief visit to my favourite place for the holidays

Hi lovely followers and new viewers! Happy New Year! How were your holidays and how did you spend them? 

I spent mine in Cuba, visiting my husband and new family. The trip was short, lasting only 10 days, but I embraced every second, minute, hour, and day. Now I spend my time reminiscing and re-living the entire trip because it was, as always, incredible. To experience Christmas in a sunny setting with palm trees for the first time was a little strange in the beginning. But when  you’re with the best company, your surroundings are easily forgotten (and who doesn’t want to escape the snow?). 

I will however say this: is travelling over the holidays expensive or what?! Wholly guacamole! The cost of my round-trip ticket was quite exaggerated for a trip to Cuba… I usually make the trip for half the price that I paid this time, so it’s safe to say that I came out of the holidays with the lightest wallet imaginable. But the trip was necessary, as you should not put a price on love. And plus… Isn’t the true meaning of the holidays to spend time with your loved ones anyway? I wasn’t going to let a light wallet stand in my way!

I’d like to share the events of my trip with you!

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My flight to Cuba was on Christmas Eve. The entire day was long because everyone and their mothers were flying that day. It was my first time travelling anywhere during the busy season (and traveling alone also), so the day consisted of standing in many lines. I was happy that I at least wore comfortable shoes… Following that, I found out that my flight was delayed by an hour, which isn’t much, but I had very little to keep myself occupied with prior to boarding the plane. All I had was my iPod, phone, and a bag of Original Lays chips (that I’d paid an exaggerated price for in the airport. Seriously, why is the cost of airport food equivalent to the price of a mortgage? Just saying!). I was afraid to use my electronics because I wanted to savour the battery for the flight itself.

The airport was so busy, but I managed to plop myself in the second-last seat I found near my gate, and braced myself for the wait. I was fortunate (and surprised) that I was not the only person flying to Cuba solo that day… A pre-teen boy ventured to the last seat beside mine, and good-old-curious-me wondered why he was traveling alone to a destination where I was sure all families travelled to together… He told me he was meeting his mom at the resort, and she was flying in from Germany. He was honestly the sweetest boy. We talked about video games, watched clips from movies on his phone, I asked him if he needed money for some overly(coughmortgagecough)-priced airport food… By the end, we chatted up until boarding time, and I was growing increasingly anxious to at last be in Cuba!

Once I finally reached Varadero’s airport, exhausted from all of the waiting I’d done earlier, I waited some more (grudgingly) to pass through the numerous inspections. Feeling the warm Cuban air as it hit my face when I finally exited the airport was delicious! I was at last free – free from lines, free from waiting, free from my responsibilities back in Canada, and free from the agony I felt living each day without Brayan. Once I spotted him in the crowd, I felt I was home.

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The day after Christmas, Brayan and I had to take mom to work, so the three of us were up at 5am to drop her off. On our way back, I marvelled at the sight of the beach. It was breathtaking so early in the morning. As people slept all around us, the waves continuously stirred day and night, restless. Brayan parked the car along the sand and we watched the sunrise together. It was romantic, and I felt so at peace with the world.

In the remaining days, we spent time with family and friends. We spent almost every day in Matanzas, with only a few trips into Varadero, and no trips into Havana this time. So far the places I’ve visited in Matanzas are La Arboleda,  the Monserrate, and the Bellamar caves, which I had the opportunity to see during this trip. Here are some pictures! 

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What I’ve learned from this experience is: 1) wear running shoes because the floors are wet and slippery, 2) watch your head because the ceiling is very low, 3) be prepared to sweat in a salt cave because it’s hooooot, and 4) be prepared to walk the entire way back and up the steep stairs. Brayan and I felt like death once we reached the top. Time out. Can’t. Breathe. Too much unexpected cardio… 

The immediate family and I also took a trip down to Varadero, where we spent the day in an amusement park. I’d been there before in July with Brayan, at which point we’d gone on the roller-coaster together. He’s not a fan, poor guy. 😉  

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December 28, 2016 is a day I can’t forget, because it’s the day I got my first tattoo! I’ve always wanted one, but as a person I’m picky and undecided on practically everything… To ink myself was always a scary thought in the sense that I feared I’d detest my tattoo over time, which is why I’d never gotten one up until this point. 

But in Cuba, where all I’ve been is spontaneous, I decided to add another spontaneous move to the list, dive in deep, and ink and ink and ink. I’m incredibly thrilled with how it turned out.

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I wanted to record the moment and my surroundings before I got the tattoo. 

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Here’s Brayan’s tattoo! Initially, he’d planned to fill some gaps in his existing sleeve tattoo while I was visiting, but he spotted this design in my phone that I’d saved a few weeks prior to provide inspiration for my own tattoo. I’ve always been interested in horoscopes, astrology, and all that jazz, and I only found it fitting to get a moon tattoo, given that my Sun Sign is Cancer – and ruling planet is the moon. So his turned out like that, and mine like this:

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Now he and I don’t need the night sky to remind ourselves of the other person… We have the moon directly on our shoulders.

I found both sketches on Google, so I don’t know who to credit, but thank you! Your sketches are now a part of Brayan and I forever. 🙂

Lastly, New Year’s eve offered me an interesting experience, because I received a dose of authentic Cuban New Year’s culture and tradition. The Año Viejo doll is a doll Cuban’s burn at midnight to say goodbye to the negative spirits and energies that have infiltrated their lives during the year. This is so they can enter the New Year cleansed and raw again.  Each person has a different explanation, but the purpose is all the same. Here’s a picture of the doll we burned:

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This guy was enjoying his last moments smoking a juicy cigar and drinking only the best cerveza/beer in Cuba. 

I couldn’t drink the entire trip because I’d gotten sick my second day there and was on antibiotics… Smh!

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We found this little guy swimming with his mom in the pool. 

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The first time I’d witnessed a Dominoes game was during my birthday party over the summer. My Spanish was so poor back then, so I was too shy to ask Brayan’s relatives how to play the game. This time, with stronger Spanish skills at my ready, I finally learned, and can confidently state that the game is highly enjoyable. 

I joked with my mom-in-law, calling Brayan a viejo (old man), because most of the day and night, he competed in Dominoes. 

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Leaving is always a heart-breaking experience. 

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That’s it for my trip to Cuba over the holidays! My heart’s desire is to make the trips more frequent and lasting as possible, because it’s my favourite place on Earth. ❤

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post!

I’d like to take a quick moment to say thank you to everyone who is stopping by the blog, reading, liking, commenting, and following! I’ve always enjoyed story-telling, and to have others on the other end listening to what I have to say, is endearing! I really appreciate your views, feedback, and support. 🙂 

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