09.08.2013 - 14.08.2013 30 °C
We arrived in Varadero with no accomodation booked. Everywhere in Cuba so far had a plethora of empty rooms but Varadero was the complete opposite. We walked around in the intense heat going to so many casas until we came to a place that although it was full the man went out of his way to help us find an empty room. It was the cuban summer holiday and everyone was here. We didn't care what it was as long as we could put our bags down and get into the water at the beach.
We headed to Varadero beach next and it was perfect. Fine white sand and warm clear water. We spent a few hours enjoying the water with the thousands of cubans cooling off on their holiday. The only reason we had to leave was as a storm rolled in and we had to take shelter at a beachside bar enjoying a cuban beer (not too bad).
As we walked back to our casa we accidently walked through a freshly tarred road that had not been blocked off and we got tar everywhere over our shoes and feet. We tried to be careful but we (especially Anna) managed to get tar everywhere. It was quite a situation as we got it all over the shower tiles and it just spreads like crazy. We spent hours depressingly scrubing our bodies, and frustratingly trying to work out how on earth we would get it off the shower floor. It turns out that spreading tooth paste and then a little bit of bleech over the tar, leaving it for a while and then scrubbing like crazy will lift tar. We went to bed happy we were able to lift the tar but also exhausted and deflated that it had happened at all. We resolved to wake up super early and make our way to our all inclusive resort we had booked for 4 days for Christian's birthday as early as possible.
In the morning we took a scooter taxi to the resort. The poor people were arriving! We checked in, although weren't able to get our room straight away and spent the day lounging around the two pools with the pool bar, eating buffet breakfast and lunch. Christian played some beach volleyball and we also lounged on the deck chairs on the beach and swum in the warm clear water. It was pretty special. We enjoyed lots of cocktails and really enjoyed eating as much food as we could. Christian loved the all you can eat ice-cream stand and over the next few days got the most out of it. The resort has 5 a la carte restaurants and vistied 4 of them over our time at the resort. The first night we visited the steakhouse in the pool courtyard. It was pretty nice to pretend we belonged here!
The second day involved basically all the same activities, lots of pool time, relaxing reading books, having cocktails, swimming at the beach. The biggest issue of the day was that we had no toothpaste and there is nowhere to get toothpaste. Cuba apparently has a nationwide shortage of toothpaste. We went to our hotels chemist, the neighbouring shopping malls chemist, supermarket and beauty shop and even the neighbouring hotels chemist. It was quite disheartening to not be able to get something so common and normal. In the end Christian stole a half used tube of toothpaste off the maids trolley. For dinner on the second night we went to the mexican restaurant which was pretty nice.
It was Christian's birthday on the third day and unfortunately it was raining through the morning. We pressed on and did as many activities as we could. The first we did was a trial dive. We put on scuba tank, jacket, regulator and mask and went diving in the pool. I was quite nervous about the idea of breathing under water but actually it was ok, but it was in a pool so it was really easy. We then stayed in the pool and played shooting basketballs into a hoop. Afterwards we relaxed inside, away from the rain, enjoying a huge lunch in the buffet restaurant. The sun came out gloriously in the afternoon and we were able to enjoy the pool and the beach again and had a little go shooting pellet guns. Christian went off to talk to his family, while I sat around the pool and enjoyed quite a few cocktails. For dinner that evening we went to the Chinese restaurant which was really nice, with all the classic chinese dishes. The staff were so lovely too, bringing out some champagne and ice-cream with candles in it for desert.
On the last day we enjoyed playing some archery, although we didn't get very many goes, and also enjoyed a beach party spontaneously thrown on the beach. They had music, water jets and bubble machines blasting on a section of the beach for people to dance around. It was hilarious. Christian was able to take a little sunfish, one person sail boat, out for a play which he really enjoyed. We also did the standard sitting by the pool relaxing. For dinner that night we went to the Italian restaurant which although had a brilliant anti-pasta bar, only had ok dinner. The whole time though was brilliant, being able to eat anything and as much as we wanted. It was quite a change from the trip.
Every night there was a sort of show for the guests, we only went to one of them - the Aqua ballet. It was possibly one of the most hilarious things we'd seen. It was basically very tacky synchronised swimming, crossed with acrobatics. Some of the tricks were quite impressive, but the dancing and the 'stories' were hilarious. Watching the men was like watching Christian attempting to do professional tango dancing! The highlight (hilariously) was the Titanic routine, complete with the woman saved on the side of the pool and a man drowing in the pool!
The next morning we started our epic day, to travel from Cuba to Belize via Mexico. We had to take a taxi from Varadero, two and a half hours to the Havana airport. We had hoped to get a bus transfer to the airport, but the silly system they operate in Cuba for tourist buses meant we weren't able to and so we took the taxi. At the airport the air-con was not working and we spent a few hours waiting in a sweat box. We flew the hour and a half to Cancun where we were strangely happy to see advertising and normal western sights again. We had to spend the day waiting around Cancun, which is a horrible place, with no real town centre, huge utes everywhere and lots of american fast food chains. We waited here for 10 hours to then took a night bus through from Cancun to Belize City. It was a long bus ride, with a bit of an annoying border crossing at 4am but we arrived safe and sound and looking forward to our Belize adventure.