May 21 2015
One last night at the Correa's place, what a shame. I really enjoyed being with them till the wee hours at night and waking up to breakfast and conversation to start the day. But another adventure awaits. Tito and Grisel picked us up and we started our road trip to Varadero. We bought a banana branch on the way. Seriously, like two dozen mini bananas on a branch for 3 CUC. We stopped in Matanzas and had the best Piña Colada I've ever tasted. No joke. Like the nectar of the gods. We didn't even want to put rum in it and possibly tarnish the perfection. Then we went to La Cueva de Saturno. Holy Moses. A short hike took us to a cave with water that looked like crystal. You could see the rock formations below and stalagmites like beautiful chandeliers in every corner. We stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped in. A little cold at first but since I'm used to the frigid Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, this was nothing. It was perfect. Refreshing really. I felt like I was in Pandora, no one else was there which made it even more special and almost mystical. We swam and explored for a little before hiking back and sitting at the bar for some water. Grisel presented us with a sweet gift from her and Tito. One box for Juana, which had three tea light candle holders handmade by Artisans here in Cuba with a sweet note and for us, some cute figurines: a couple and a dog, with another personalized note. Very kind and sweet gesture, they wanted us to remember them. From there, we were off until we hit Varadero. He pointed out all the hotels and rated them- the paradiso ones are the best. We hit the end of Varadero and turned around until we found our Casa Particular. Martha y Roberto were outside to greet us. He showed us to our room which had a private entrance from the side of the house. There's a fridge in here, two beds (one queen and one twin). Roberto seemed excited to meet us and said he was preparing for our breakfast tomorrow morning that includes his famous pancakes. Can't wait for those! He says he loves renting out the rooms and meeting people from all over the world. And now a quick walk to the beach and explore the town.
Nowww I understand. That water is like crack. You never want to get out! The sand is powdery soft and the water's a perfect temperature. We got there around 7pm so the sun wasn't as strong but still no sunset until 8:30! We walked back (5 min walk!) to our new home to shower and get dinner. While washing our feet in the outside shower, we were introduced to a woman who was staying in the room next to ours: Yolanda/Yoly. We started talking and found she's Costa Rican (tica), a chef, here with her husband Alejandro, and she's been to Cuba now 6 times. She recommended Don Alex to eat and started describing some of the dishes which sent our stomachs to heaven. Her husband gave us directions on how to get there, we thanked them and went off to shower. We took a horse carriage/taxi ride there and as we were getting off the cab, a car pulls up right behind us and it's the Costa Rican couple saying they screwed up and gave us the wrong street and didn't feel right not chasing us down to help us. So we jumped in their car and all went to Don Alex together. This is another reason why I love to travel so much. Meeting people from all over the world and sharing meals and conversation. We had a wonderful meal with our new Tico (I learned that Costa Rican people call themselves Tico's and Tica's because they say CafeTICO, un poquiTICO, etc) friends. Don Alex was a gentleman and very serviceable. The food was stupendous; we had a cazuela de Mariscos with rice and tostones. I had a sweet and hungry kitty next to me almost my entire meal. He would even place his paw on my lap every so often to remind me to give him food. The couple had such great personalities. I found out that they have two daughters, one 16 and one 20 along with 3 cats and one dog. They live in San Jose and he's a banker or in the banking business and she's taking a sabbatical from work. They adopted their two daughters when each were 14. I thought that was pretty amazing. Their dog was run over, well it wasn't their dog yet, they found him like that and took him to the vet. After they cleaned him up and stabilized him, they took him in their home. They seem like pretty badass people. They wanted to adopt those girls to give back to God for all the blessings they have -- "you may not change the world but for someone you can change theirs" (that's what she said about that). They were Christians but not the kind I grew up with, she cursed like a sailor and was really funny and natural about it. I liked that. On our way home we noticed a show going on in front of our casa - salsa and dance show. We hung out for a couple of minutes and then walked back to say our goodnights. So appreciative of great company and another wonderful day. I love how every day, if you're open to it, can bring you surprises. So fun!