Friday, January 10, 2020

January 5, 2020 - Rotten Quebecois Kids

This is the point of a Cuban all-inclusive trip where you lose sense of all space, time and regular human behaviour. You feel like the Sultan of Brunei, where you have an army of servants who are bringing you food and drinks at all hours of the day, serving you compliments, and reminding you of your magnificence. There’s no hurry to do anything; you walk way slower, the thought of having to get up and go to the bathroom sort of irritates you, you’ve committed to never wearing underwear again, you’ve promised yourself to learn Spanish this year, the incessant reggaeton playing on the massive speakers by the pool is sounding pretty good, having regular bowel movements just seems like an oddity, the thought of walking all the way to the beach is simply exhausting, your BFF is the bartender at the lobby bar and you know the names of his wife and children, you’ve figured out why people sitting in the water at the swim up pool bar never get out to go for a leak, you go for lunch shirtless and in wet swimming trunks, and the mattress that felt awful on day one is now the most beautiful sleeping surface imaginable. You’ve also realized that trying to do a travel blog on your adventures in an all-inclusive resort is near impossible so you just make shit up and let the random thoughts spill out.

Walking Club was still alive and well and Ana and Stella join me for a big stroll around the resort then out to the far point of the bay where we did some shelling and crab spotting. Along the way we passed a fisherman whom I had spoken with yesterday, and he told me he made 20 pesos per month as a stone mason and was here to catch some fish to feed his family. I related this story to Stella and she decided she wanted to give him 15 pesos of her money, but first asked if we thought that would be a good idea. I told her that’s not something I would normally do, as directly giving people money for nothing can sometimes be counterproductive, but I said she was free to do whatever she wants. We talked together a bit about charity and how best to help people who need it and we all agreed that he would be able to make much better use of that 15 pesos than we would. We did find the fisherman, but by that time another man had joined him and Stella decided it would be awkward to give him money but not the other guy. I am always so impressed with Stella’s charitable and caring nature and she has been that way since she was a little girl. I think she is going to grow up to do a lot of good in this world.

After breakfast we got set up at the pool then went to the beach and took out a six-person paddleboat and cruised out to the nearby reef for some snorkeling. I tried to convince Maria to put on a mask and lay down at the back of the paddleboat to look down at the reef and fish, but the idea of getting her face anywhere near the water freaked her out. John donned a mask and snorkel and swam around with the kids on the reef, which was indeed teeming with fish, surprising for a spot so close to a resort. Ana loves snorkeling and spent a long while cruising the reef with the kids after John was done.

The kids got their own room this time and seem to be enjoying having a bit more independence. I’ve been encouraging them to get out and meet some other kids, especially since most of them are French speakers so it would give them a great opportunity to practice their speaking skills. During the afternoon the kids and I went to the games area to play pool and ping pong and found the space in utter disarray - the ping pong table net had been ripped off and was laying on the ground, along with the broken brackets. There was a plate of half eaten food on the playing surface and half-finished drinks balanced precariously on two of the chairs surrounding the table. The paddles were laying on the ground but the ball was nowhere to be seen. Over by the pool table, somebody had spilled an orange drink on the ground and the case for the balls was sitting in it, soaking up the sticky, sugary juice. Other half-finished drinks and one completely full one were on the ground and sitting on chairs. Worse, the two kids playing pool were having a light sabre battle with the pool cues, smashing them together, banging them on the tile, dropping them, and then spearing at the balls on the pool table, somehow not ripping the cloth to shreds. I gave them shit and told them not to break the cues because then nobody could play. The one kid looked at me blankly because he didn’t speak a word of English and the other kid understood and nodded, then called me some soft of awful French insult under his breath. Attack of the Quebecois. Maybe I shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to make Quebecois buddies.

I cleaned up all the drinks, fixed the ping pong net, then we played a game of doubles in pool and one of the rotten kids was Magnus’s partner. I was very impressed at how great Magnus’s French is as he sounded perfectly fluent and was able to understand the kid despite his rapid pace of speech. Stella has always been a little more reluctant to speak French, so didn’t say much, but it would be nice if she could meet some French speakers she could be friends with and get some real life practice.

John and Maria seem to be having a pretty good time. Ana tells me her mom really enjoys these trips as it gives her a week away from cooking and cleaning. I know she likes the food as she returns from the buffet with a plate piled high, eats every scrap, then returns for another plate full of sweets which she devours. I don’t know where she puts it all, but it’s great to see her enjoying the fruits of somebody else’s cooking efforts. John too is having fun and enjoying the abundance of food, drink, and sunshine. I am very happy they were able to join us on this trip.

We went for dinner at the Cuban a la carte and it was excellent, just like the first time. After dinner we went to the Cigar Bar, which is a smaller bar that used to be an actual place to smoke cigars, but they don’t allow indoor smoking here anymore so now it is a regular bar, but with a better selection of drinks. They have these big, comfy leather lounge chairs that are seasoned with decades of cigar smoke and make you feel like Ernest Hemingway, especially while drinking a gin martini, which is what I ordered. We played a couple games of Uno and chilled out for a while then returned to the lobby where the evening show had started and a magician was up on stage making doves disappear, then reappear, turning a cardboard goose into a real one, and making a lady somehow float in mid-air. This was followed up by a local acapella group, which we had seen here last year, but didn’t  seem to be quite as good - perhaps they were having an off night. We stayed for a few songs then head back to the room, putting the wraps on another great day in Cuba.

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