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, June 20, 2011

I can’t say enough good stuff about dear Marea

I am inclined to be effusive about the group that will be traveling with me to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo in October, as well as the resort itself. I’ve just booked 32 women for the All-Girl-Yoga-Posse Trip, departing from Toronto on Oct. 12. Most of them will be staying only for the week of Oct. 12-19, when yoga instruction will be offered, but a handful will be there for two weeks. And, my excellent pal Martine will be joining us for the second week, Oct. 19-26, during which time she will be celebrating a benchmark birthday! Woo-hoo!!

Some women in this posse have been to Marea del Portillo with me in the past; others hadn’t heard of the place until I started raving on about it and organizing group trips twice a year. I have known many of these women for many years, some better than others, and I’ve spoken with most of the new-to-me others by phone and/or corresponded by email. Although I haven’t had personal contact with quite all the women, I’m confident they’ll have a similar vibe to the majority, and it will be beautiful.

This group is shaping up to be one of the most mellow, profoundly pleasant and peaceable, blissed-out bunch of babes the little resort in Cuba’s Granma province has ever seen! Everyone I’ve interacted with while signing her up for this trip has been incredibly enthusiastic, to a woman, and they all seem to have very positive energy.

They want to see this three-star gem of a resort I can’t shut up about. They want to meet the people I’ve grown exceedingly fond of in a few short years. They want to help me take things for the community – free clothing, bicycles and other gifts, including many household necessities that are hard to get in the Marea del Portillo and Pilon area. They want to join me in doing whatever we can to assist and empower the people of this special place.

What is it about this place that has charmed me and so many other visitors? It could be the landscape – a quiet beach on a picturesque horseshoe bay, against the majestic backdrop of the mighty Sierra Maestra Mountains. It could have something to do with the warm saltwater, the nearly perpetual sunshine or the abundance of blooming flowers. It could be all of that, along with other physical things, but I think the less tangible elements are really the key.

I’m talking about the people. The generally genial, welcoming attitude of the staff is what elevates this humble resort far beyond the three-star ranking. They work hard to keep the resort clean and in good repair – although parts and supplies are often difficult to get in this out-of-the-way rural region. They truly want guests to feel at home at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo and sister hotel Farallon del Caribe, which is a short walk up the hill from the beachfront Marea hotel and cabanas.

As well, when you venture beyond the resort grounds, you will find yourself exchanging smiles and nods with many friendly local people. Since the resort is the single most significant employer in the area, it’s likely you’ll see resort staff in the nearby villages, if you go for a stroll or hire a horse-cart driver to give you a tour. Either mode of transportation – foot or horse power – works well to provide a more up-close exploration opportunity, as does a bicycle.

Bikes are useful for both tourists and locals, but foreign visitors don’t usually consider them a necessity; Cubans do. It costs just $30 to ship a bike to Cuba via Sunwing, the operator of the resort where we’ll be encamped. I think this group will be taking several bicycles in October, which should be fun!

The yoga posse will be an active gang, I think, but we’ll all go at our own paces, since the group ranges dramatically in age, from 16 to 73. All but a few of the women intend to participate in Yoga on the Beach with instructor Wendy Martin, owner of the Sacred Breath Yoga Studio in Huntsville. She is planning to lead scheduled yoga sessions and to encourage spontaneous ad hoc yoga as the spirit moves. On most days, scheduled classes will be offered twice – at sunrise on the beach and during the late afternoon or early evening, depending on group preference. As well, Wendy welcomes resort staff to join in, free of charge!

I’m quite excited about this trip because I think this is going to be a phenomenally warm and wonderful crew of women, and the Cuban people they’ll meet at Marea del Portillo are the same – warm and wonderful. I think I’d better start practicing my group hug.

[P.S. I can still add a few more women to the posse but the price may be a little different. Contact me for details, if interested:]

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