This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much
heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tale #1 - My bike had an adventure of its own!

I'm still working on getting into the Great White groove. I've been back in Canada for a little over a week but part of my mind is still walking in sunshine in Cuba, where I spent the last half of October. I was welcomed back home warmly by my hubby and pets but coldly by the climate.

On my second day here, trying to wade through the virtual mountain of e-mail, the power went out, the temperature dropped and it began to snow briskly. I couldn't help but think that, in Cuba, when the power goes out (as it frequently does), at least you don't freeze to your chair. I lit a fire and coped. Praise be to the coffee gods or goddesses for thermal carafes.

My most recent trip to my second home, Marea del Portillo, in the Granma province of Cuba, was so full of adventures, activities and interesting encounters that it's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps I'll just follow the musical advice of Julie Andrews as Maria in "The Sound of Music" - to start at the very beginning because it's a very good place to start. (Everybody sing along!)

In the wee dark hours of Oct. 13, the posse gathered at Pearson, Toronto's international airport. Forty-two women boarded the Sunwing plane and jetted off to Cuba. Destination: Club Amigo Marea del Portillo. Goal: all-girl fun! (No rude remarks from the testosterone department, please.) This was the inaugural All-Girl Posse trip to Cuba, which I expect to become an annual October activity. By the time we'd arrived, our ranks had swelled to 45; we adopted a woman and her two daughters who were pals of another posse member and just happened to be booked into the same resort that week.

The flight itself was relatively uneventful, our arrival at the Manzanillo airport was filled with the usual humid chaos and, in short order, the first adventure began. This involved my bicycle going on a journey of its own. It got to go for a ride on top of a Lada and visit a Cuban home! Apparently, while I was indisposed (in the baño), my bike box had been spewed forth onto the luggage carousel and subsequently disappeared. In its stead, a bedraggled-looking box with another woman's name on it stood in the arrivals lobby, forlorn and unclaimed. The search was on!

While the security guards were looking around and shrugging, some of my posse rushed in and reported that they'd seen a box with my name on it being loaded onto a car that hastily drove off. Of course, I thought, my bike box - which had been neatly taped together by the Algonquin Outfitters bike shop lads - would look like more of a prize than that other ratty box with its peeling red duct tape.

We tracked down the woman whose name was on that unappealing box and she explained that she had brought it for her son's friend, whom she didn't really know. Since she would be staying at the same resort, we agreed that she would try to contact the intended recipient, via her son in Canada, and endeavor to arrange a swap. I would, in effect, hold her bike for ransom. In order to promote international peace and good will, we decided to believe that the gentlemen with the Lada had erroneously taken my bike box and, naturally, would want to set things right. (I was not feeling as optimistic as I sounded.)

However, that was indeed the case! Before the bus had gotten very far out of town, the box-bedecked Lada caught up and flagged us down. The bike owner-to-be was very keen to exchange - and he hadn't even opened the box! When he got home, he explained, he looked in through a handle hole and saw Frisbees. If there were Frisbees inside, he knew his "special things" would not be in that box, he said. (Note to self: always pack Frisbees with your bike...sort of like companion planting.)

Soon, we were on the road again, smiling broadly and clinking cans of cerveza. Then the bus broke down....

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