i'm new to blogging and am not sure what exactly to write here. i'm thinking less is more, so here we go.
first vacation in 6 years: a week at an all-inclusive resort near santiago de cuba, the brisas sierra mar. first time to cuba and the carribean for that matter, and my first time at an all-inclusive. had a good time but quickly discovered that all-inclusives are not for me.
explored the countryside and chivirico, the local village. road a scooter on the precarious unpaved roads. almost exchanged a shirt, shoes, and soap for a lobster, but didn't work out in the end. almost organized a 30-person lobster dinner but made a dumb mistake and got caught by hotel management and had to cancel. ran into a practicioner of yoseikan, which is an off-shoot style of chito-ryu, which i used to practice. learned how to play the bongos. got schooled at the bongos by a cuban boy by the name of enrique. got sick with explosive diarreah from water/food/something. kayaked and pedal-boated. got a mild tan. didn't shave. learned that even in a legitimate-looking store with price tags on items, a cashier, and an electronic barcode reader, all prices are negotiable. learned a bit about cuban life, culture, and government. picked up a smattering of spanish. got schooled at pingpong. learned a little bit of salsa dancing. had lobster (well, crawfish) for lunch thanks to jacques and sisi.
on a side note, i had no idea of the level of poverty and more importantly lack of resources. i guess that's what a 50-year US embargo will do. cubans gladly accept used clothing or other items (e.g.: soap, pencils, etc) as these are in short supply. it is not at all poorly regarded to accept such gifts, in a social/cultural sense.
i plan to go back. maybe next year, maybe the one after that, who knows. but what i'm hoping to do is go for two weeks, explore havana, santiago and maybe a few other cities/villages, soak up the local culture, food, and music. for the last two days, meet up with the hotel folks at the brisas sierra mar and then head home. oh yeah, and i'll pack an extra suitcase full of old clothing and other items to give away. maybe this time i'll be able to trade them for a lobster.
P.S. one final note- i had made a reservation with aerobus on the day of my departure for them to pick me up at the hotel near where i live and take me to the airport. they never came and i ended up paying for a taxi. according to the hotel staff, this happens quite often. fuckers.