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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tale #6 – How to make a grown man giggle

This post is entitled “Tale #6” because it is a continuation of the series of tales I began writing after returning from my October 2010 trip to Marea del Portillo, Cuba, with the All-Girl Posse. Unlike the previous tales, however, this will not be one big story. Instead, this is a small string of memory gems or mini tales, beginning on a beautiful island....

Everybody loves Cayo Blanco. Guests of Club Amigo Marea del Portillo are transported to this charming little island with a sandy white beach, where they can swim, paddle about with assorted water toys, enjoy the lovely scenery and generally loll about. A delicious lunch is prepared on the beach during each visit, including lobster, cooked over an open fire, grilled fish and fresh vegetables. Those with the VIP package have free passage to Cayo Blanco thrice weekly and, once a week, lobster is featured – always a culinary highlight for my taste buds!

Another happy highlight for many folks who visit Cayo Blanco is the snorkelling. Jelly-bean colored fishies frequent the area, just off shore. One can easily swim out to view them or, for a better array, go a bit further from the beach with the paddle boat and snorkelling guide Miguel, who seems to quite enjoy his job. In October, two gal-pals and I joined Miguel for some snorkelling near a garden of coral where the fish hang out. He tethered the paddle boat to an old under-water structure and took us by the hand, in turns, to lead us around and point out bright fish as they flitted by.

We had an excellent time! We saw a such a wealth of interesting fish and, with Miguel at hand, felt so safe in the rolling surf, that we three decided we wanted to give our gracious guide a generous tip. While Martine and I were packing up our gear, Karen was dispatched to take a 20 CUC peso note to Miguel, who spoke little English but was fluent in smiling. Upon her return to our beach-chair encampment, Karen reported that, when she handed him the money, Miguel had burst into the biggest grin she had ever seen and giggled. “I've never made a grown man giggle before,” she commented, grinning broadly.

That day on Cayo Blanco was a definite gem. Visiting the island usually is, even if you're not interested in snorkelling. Many visitors just like to relax on the beach. Others enjoy the birdwatching. Some rave about going for catamaran rides in the bay. On a previous trip, Martine and I had a wonderful time kayaking – circumnavigating the small island. And, in case you haven't seen any photos, don't worry, there are plenty of shady trees, a bar with an assortment of cold beverages and bathrooms, of a sort. The toilet facilities could be described as up-scale outhouses, at best. I'd advise taking your own toilet paper (but, I always advise that when going almost anywhere in Cuba) and, of course, don't forget your sun screen when heading out for a day at Cayo Blanco!

Martine and I quite enjoyed ourselves kayaking about the bay in front of the resort, too, on more than one occasion. On our first trip to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, she and I took a tandem kayak into the mangroves along the left-hand lip of the horseshoe bay, when looking out from the beach. During the October 2010 trip, however, we went out with a guide, Elier, another gracious guy who has worked at the resort for many years.

Earlier, Elier had told me that, once upon a time, he led kayak tours into the mangroves to look for manatee. I thought some members of the All-Girl Posse might want to see some sea cows grazing, so I asked if Elier could guide a group; he was happy to do so. We didn't encounter any manatee but, nonetheless, everyone on the kayaking tour had a great time, got some good photos and found Elier to be quite charming, skilled and knowledgeable – the perfect combination for a guide!

Elier, who speaks English very well, is one of resort's sailing masters. His primary job is to take people out for catamaran rides – another freebie for VIP guests. (But, as with any service in Cuba, don't forget to tip, even if you get a free ride!) I make a point of going sailing with Elier whenever possible, not just because I enjoy the sport but also because he's a good conversationalist. And, it doesn't hurt that he's a nice-looking gentleman.

Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, in my opinion, is well stocked with gentlemen – and I mean that in the classic sense. The vast majority of the men on staff are gentlemen, whether they are working or simply passing you on the sidewalk. When someone is serving a guest in some way, naturally, a certain level of civility and gentility is expected. However, I have to say, the staff at this resort – both men and women – generally seems to be a cut above the ordinary. I'll never forget, for instance, how one staff member literally leaped from my balcony to my friend's one evening when she was locked out of her cabana and a key holder was not readily available. He most definitely gets top marks for providing above-and-beyond service!

In that case, it was grown women who were giggling in relief once Spiderman, our hero, had safely saved the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment