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 10, 2012


This is my most recent review of Club Amigo Marea del Portillo. It's now posted on, along with a few photos from my latest trip, Oct. 31-Nov. 21, 2013. Here's a link: "Diamond" review with photos.

For information on upcoming trips, please visit my new site, JennicaCuba. It has been set up specifically for booking group trips, so it won't have poetry, short stories and such stuff – just necessary data. I hope you will check it out! Meanwhile, here's my review....


Even if you’re not a fan of Paul Simon’s music, you’ve probably heard the song 
“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” a catchy pop tune from his iconic 1986 release, 
Graceland. It’s an engaging song! 

When I describe the location of Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, I often tell people, “If you 
think of Cuba as a leg with a foot, then it’s located on the sole, near the heel.” Situated 
on the southern rim of the island, this little resort is a perfect gem of a place. Therefore, 
I think it’s apt to describe Marea del Portillo as a diamond on the sole of Cuba. And, it’s 
an engaging place! 

For many people, Club Amigo Marea del Portillo could also be described as a diamond of 
the soul in Cuba. I can safely state that because this humble Sunwing-run resort has 
one of the highest rates of returnees in the entire tourist-infested country. This is 
particularly remarkable since it’s in a relatively remote region, far from popular urban 
hubs like Havana, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba. But, there’s something special about 
the place and, before I realized what was happening, I too had become one of the 
raving repeaters. 


First, for most folks, the exceptional natural beauty of the area is captivating. The 
majestic Sierra Maestra Mountains rise behind the resort, encircling it in a protective 
way, like arms around you on a stormy night. In front of the hotel and cabaña complex, 
the ocean rolls and lolls in a horseshoe bay, punctuated on one side by a dramatic 
scenic vista and, on the other, by a tranquil mangrove. The beach itself is beige sand, 
sprinkled with interesting multi-colored pebbles at one end and populated with palapas. 

Another thing that many visitors notice and appreciate is the friendly and professional 
service; the staff at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo is second to none. They work hard to 
address any concerns guests may have and to ensure the best possible experience for 
everyone – from toddlers to seniors and all ages in between. 

During my most recent visit (November 2012), the 40 people I traveled with ranged in 
age from 6 months to 85 years, and they all had a wonderful time. Several members of 
the group had been to this resort in the past – with previous trips I’d organized or on 
their own. For the majority, though, this was their inaugural visit, but it won’t likely be 
their last. In fact, some of us are already planning trips in April and October of 2013. 


It’s easy to become hooked on Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, as the many repeat 
visitors will verify. Why? I’ve mentioned the top-notch staff and beautiful scenery but, 
beyond that, the atmosphere itself is a big factor in the magic of Marea, in my opinion. 
The place has a very peaceful, laid-back feeling and is not a pumping party zone – at
least not when I’ve been there (typically at the beginning or end of the high season for 
tourist traffic). 

Of course, you can always find or create a party if you want – the bar is now open all 
night! In general, though, I’d say this resort is more geared to families and people who 
are not inclined to get stupidly drunk and stumble into the pool. It’s perfect for relaxing, 
in just about any way that suits you! 

During the day, there are activities for children of all ages, including yoga – ask for 
Maya, who leads classes whenever possible. There are also dance lessons and pool-side 
games, as well as entertaining stage shows every evening that feature a bevy of 
wonderful dancers, awesome musicians, an excellent magician and some very amusing 
comedic performers. If you’re interested in more athletic activities, there are many 
options. For instance, you can go horseback riding with Chichi, kayaking or sailing on 
the bay, hiking or biking at your own pace. 


Before I conclude this review, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on two other 
things: food and facilities. Regarding food, I’ve often heard people complain about 
Cuba’s cuisine but I think the important thing to remember is that they work with what 
is available and the food is generally fresh and organic. Some people I spoke with in 
November mentioned they felt the food at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo was completely 
on par with the quality of what was offered at a five-star in Varadero where they’d 
stayed not long ago. 

One thing I particularly like is that there’s always some yummy food being prepared at 
the grill in the Marea hotel dining room, such as custom-made omelets every morning. 
Even for people with multiple food sensitivities like me, there are plenty of tasty options 
on the buffet, including several types of meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables. 

When it comes to the facilities, I’ve noticed over the years that Club Amigo Marea del 
Portillo is consistently clean and well maintained. The grounds are groomed perpetually, 
the beach is raked at dawn, the sidewalks are swept and washed daily, and the 
buildings themselves are regularly painted and upgraded. This year, the impetus seems 
to be to replace doors, particularly in the cabaña section. I observed that each newly 
installed solid wooden door was equipped with a modern electronic key-card lock – a 
significant improvement! 

I’ve also heard about other improvements that are in the works, so I’ll be very curious to 
see what’s been accomplished by the time I return in April. And, I’ll be sure to let you 
know about how this Cuban diamond is being further polished!


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