Renee at the Italian Restaurant by the Shore, Coconut in Hand

I'm now writing this in late April to late May (this post took a month to write!). *Sigh*  Sometimes I wished I was retired (don't we all?) and have all the free time to do things that we want to do.  I remember hearing from somewhere that when students are asked what they would do if they had a million dollars, the teacher would tell them that that particular thing is what they should become once they graduate.  To that question, I would say sleeping, spending time with my family, traveling, and blogging.  Maybe I should quit my daytime job to blog about traveling with my family, while giving consultation to insomniacs! :)  Hopefully, I'll still recall some of the details of the trip.

Day 3 - January 30, 2011
Today was the Sunday that we were in Cuba.  We asked the hotel staff where the closest church was, and was told that there were no churches in the Cayo Coco area, because it was a conservation area.  The closest church would be in Moron, which is a city about 50 km away from the resort area.  Since it was Sunday, there were no excursions to the city.  We would have to hire a taxi to bring us to the city, which meant we would not have a guide with us.  We weren't that adventurous, especially with Adele being there with us.  So, we had to skip mass for that week (we went to Confession once we got back).

We explored the resort a little bit and found a children's playground and a small daycare.  We went inside to look.  There was a hotel staff there, a lady named Mocha, looking after a young girl.  We chatted with her a little bit, and she was kind enough to let Adele do some watercolouring.

That afternoon, we spent some time beside the pool.  I caught up on some sleep and read a little.  I brought a book called, The Roaring Nineties by Joseph Stiglitz.  It's about the economics of the 90s, obviously.  But really, the focus was on the dotcom boom-bust, and also the corporate scandals exemplified by Worldcom, Enron, and Arthur Andersen.  Read a few chapters on the trip, but didn't get to finish it.  Still haven't...maybe I will at some point this summer.  Anyway, I digress...

So, after falling asleep by the poolside, Renee came back to me with a different daughter!  Adele had gotten dreadlocks!  While we were at the daycare, Mocha had offered to braid Adele's hair.  I didn't know about that, but Renee told me afterwards that it cost 10 pesos.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but that's more than a day's salary for the average Cuban!  It did look very cool!

Cool Dreadlocks

That evening after dinner, a band came to the hotel and played some Cuban music in the lobby.  The atmosphere was really good and there were a number of people dancing.  What caught our eyes was this huge contraption that looked like an organ, except no one was playing it.  We walked around to the back, and to our surprise, there was this man cranking a shaft that ran the instrument.  A ticker tape looking sheet was being fed into and out of the machine.  It was essentially a record and the instrument read the pattern on the tape and played the music.  It was the weirdest thing!

Cranking Out the Music (Literally)

Again, another fun day in Cuba.  Good company, good weather, ok food, and really relaxing...

Day 4 - January 31, 2011

Kayaks Were Readily Available For Us to Use

Today was our first action packed day.  In the morning, we went for an archery lesson.  It was very short; each person got to shoot about 5 arrows and that was it.  Then, we played some beach volleyball, and met a couple from Quebec.  While we were playing, a gardener gave Renee a hat made from coconut tree leaves.  They were beautifully woven.  When we gave him 2 pesos as a tip, he was so grateful.  Ever since then, he always gave us special treatment when he saw us, giving Adele grasshoppers made from the same leaves, etc.

Beautiful Hats Made From Coconut Tree Leaves

After lunch, we went to our scheduled catamaran trip.  It's not the catamaran excursion that we had booked, but simply a short ride on a catamaran.  We all wanted to go, but there were no life jackets small enough for Adele.  So, Renee and I decided to stay onshore while the rest went on the trip.  They all said that it was wise for us not to bring Adele because it was a rocky ride.  It did look very fun though.  The catamaran staff, Mike, kept offering a private excursion to the nearest town, Moron, where he lived.  He was going to charge us 40 pesos per person to bring the whole family there and also provide a lobster dinner at his house.  I believe an excursion to Moron was being charged 80 pesos per person.  It sounded like a good deal, but we decided against it, because we didn't feel 100% safe with Adele with us.  But just thinking about it, he'd make 240 pesos minus the cost of lobsters and gasoline.  The average Cuban makes a few pesos a!  He sure knows how to make money!

Johnson, Anita, Ryan, and Rachel on a Short Catamaran Trip

After coming back from the catamaran trip, we decided to stay on the beach because it was just too gorgeous.  Renee and I have always loved white sand beaches with clear water.  That was why we went to Sardinia in Italy for our honeymoon.  However, Cayo Coco just blew Sardinia away.  It was just amazing.

The resort is situated somewhat on the east side of the beach.  I think we were the second resort from the east side.  So, there was a beach on the east side of the resort and one on the west.  The one we were on today was the one on the east.  There was some shore erosion where the sea level seemed to have risen over the years and eroded away the sand.  Some of the coconut trees had fallen due to this erosion.  Nevertheless, the beach was still really beautiful.

Adele and Renee by the Beach

A Badly Stitched Photo of the Beach at Sol Cayo Coco

We swam for a little bit and then had a few burgers by the beach.  This part of the beach was pretty windy. So, we ended up going back to the resort and continued our sun tanning by the pool.  While the men sun tanned and slept, the girls went to the beach on the west side of the resort and took many pictures.  They claimed that this side was much prettier...I'll create some suspense and will post the pictures on my next post.

That evening was the beach party night that our tour operator organized for us.  We got bused to the "most beautiful beach" in the area, the Playa Pilar.  The party was a held at the outdoor bar by the beach but it was so dark by then that we couldn't really see the beauty there.  Anyway, there was a band which provided live music and an MC who taught us how to salsa.  I think I still remember the basic moves.  The dancing was pretty fun.  The night ended with a game of limbo.  There were about 30 people who played.  Ryan, Rachel and I all made it to the last 6 or 7 people.  Ryan got eliminated first and I went shortly after.  In the end, Rachel won the competition and brought home the prize...a bottle of wine!

Here's a Video of Us Limbo-ing

We got back to the hotel at around 11 pm.  Adele was really good and didn't make too big of a fuss!  Another great day in Cuba!  I'm beginning to there a bad day in Cuba?
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