I had the travel itch, that incessant need to spend all of your money and hop on a plane At this point, I resolved to travel alone but naturally, when your friends see your amazing travel photos, they want to travel with you. I am always down for traversing a foreign land and soaking up some culture. Unfortunately, I think I only achieved the soaking part.
Cuba is a very popular and affordable destination for Canadians which is ideal because here in Toronto, winter is too long. I never visited Cuba before and I was very reluctant on going as the reviews from friends and family was split right down the middle; beautiful beaches and awful food.
We decided at the last minute to book a cheap 8-day all-inclusive resort in Camagüey (Cuba) called Brisas Santa Lucia.
A Bag of Cristal
As soon as we got off the plane, we were steered towards our shuttle bus where men sold us bags of Cristal for $1. I, unfortunately, was sober during our 3-hour bumpy bus ride to the resort because I don’t drink, just kidding…I don’t eat gluten. I was taken back at how impoverished and poor that part of Cuba was, there was nothing for miles and the roads were tiny. Unbeknownst to me, this part of Cuba only housed resorts, 3 or 4 if my memory serves me right all lined up in a row.
Prison might be a stretch
While it definitely was not a prison, I felt confined to the resort. I heard that other tourists would leave for days and travel to Havana or Varadero and come back. Gosh, why didn’t we think of that? The rooms were very basic, holes in the doors and frequent power outages. The food was the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not friendly for food allergies. But that was the least of my worries because I wasn’t there for food and I already had low expectations food-wise.
"Vino blanco por favor "
More like please no more; it tasted like rubbing alcohol. The mixed drinks were no better, it wasn’t even real juice. I actually stopped drinking by the second day and drank copious amounts of “americanos” with some coconut cake.
Let’s talk about its redeeming qualities
The staff are incredibly charming, entertaining and bilingual - they speak French fluently which is more than I can say for myself. They remember your names, your preferences and if you're a frequent visitor. They are great at engaging participation and conversation with everyone, I was very impressed.
The tour guide was very informative and knowledgeable and if anything happened to us, she was our liaison.
The shows were pretty much the same every night with the exception another resort hosting a White Beach Party. What I noticed that most were people leaving to hang out with the locals of Camagüey at a bar down the road (walking distance).
The most memorable part of the trip
If it wasn’t for the plane ride, the scorching sun and the ocean waves I would have guessed I was back in Canada. 90% of the tourists were Canadian, many spoke French and chances are you found at least 10 people from your ‘hood. We spent every night at ‘our table’ with a mini speaker someone brought where we would play spin the iPhone and take turns spinning a beat.
Friendships were truly born that week.
I personally, will never return to Camagüey (Cuba) as it involves too many bad memories and really isn’t my cup of tea. A perfect vacation for me involves exploration, trying new things and talking to locals. I under no circumstances have written off Cuba, I am looking forward to exploring Havana and swimming in the Ocean in Varadero.