Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cuba - Part 5 - UFO's

Unrecognizable Food Objects

When we first ventured into the restaurant of this all inclusive resort, we were amazed at the rows and rows of food and we just weren't sure where to start first.  So we did a walk about to see just what was on the menu for that day.  Each presentation of food had an international sign depicting the name of the dish in about 6 different country's languages and symbolized by their flag.   In one area, there was a grill where you chose the meat you wanted and they cooked it right there in front of you, and they would also make stir fried rice.  To top off your meal, there was the banana buffet where someone was always cooking bananas in what appeared to be a liquor and they served them over fresh crepes.  When you cook bananas, the natural sugar caramelizes so this was a very popular dessert to finish off your meal. At first sight, we were amazed at the selection of foods, only to discover that the menu rarely changed all week.  To offset that routine, we chose to eat our lunch at the Open Grill cafe just beside the pool.  By the end of the week, we were really ready for some good ole home cookin'.  Take note: if traveling to Cuba - be sure to be without snacks for the week or make sure you take your own because a can of Pringles at the resort was $5.50!!

Now - by no means did we starve, but some of the food on the buffet ... well... we were just unsure if we event wanted to sample it.  Some we did, some we didn't.  I don't even recall the name of most of these foods.
This didn't appeal to any of us. 
Too mushy looking and simply unrecognizable.
Another UFO -
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say fish and tomatoes.
Or...perhaps whatever that red plant is on display behind it.
This was fish smothered in a white sauce.
I have no idea what the sauce was, but it was probably mayonnaise based as most everything was.

If you like ham, mayonnaise and peas, you are in for a real treat!!
These next two pictures became the joke of the week for us. When we first saw it, we did a double take of 'WTF is that?'.   It was called Compost Salad.  It was made of layers of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, peas & carrots and it was held together by a clear gelatin. Served Cold!  Each day we went to the buffet we made sure to see if the salad was still there.  If it's not eaten, then would they make it the next day?  You would think not, but each day it was there.  Sometimes in a bit of a different form.  We were never sure if it was fresh or put out again.  By day five I said,  "Ok, I've got to try this Compost Salad - apparently people are putting it on their plates"   So I did and yes, it was awful. 

Compost Salad. 
They got the name right on this one!

A fresher looking version of Compost Salad.
This time in a jello ring form.
If this is a delicacy, I'm ok eating regular food.
So needless to say: we ate the majority of our meals from the fresh meat grill.  Not all of the food looked like this, but I just had to throw in a few samples of what we turned our noses up at the most.  Each morning at breakfast, there was always a line up for the fresh fruit juice which made right there in front of you.  Now I have to say, in terms of presentation, the following pictures show some creative talent.

This little cream puff is supposed to be a swan,
but to me it looks like the Loch Ness Monster.
Love the bread dolphin.
Can't miss the beak on this bird.
Not sure what the food is, I was too busy looking at the bird.
OK, now the turtle... why he's just cute as heck.
I'm sure this took a bit of time to create.

This brightly coloured snake caught the eye of many.
awwwww.  Love Birds.
Roses...for that added touch to the ham.
Cool as a cucumber!!
That's it for the UFOs.  I wonder what I should post next....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cuba - Part 4

It's time to lay by the pool.  Our resort had 4 connecting pools and one of them had a swim up bar.  We were a tad spoiled weren't we?  Gotta love an 'all inclusive' vacation.  This pool is the one we frequented the most.  For the better part of the day we had it to ourselves, which was an added bonus.  We were blessed with sunshine every single day!

This was the quieter pool that we liked to lounge by the most,
far enough away from the entertainment area
- yet close enough for us to hear all the music.
I think this had to be the busiest day this pool saw.
Below is one of the  bridges that overlooked the connecting pools, the combination patio and swim up bar, rec area, towel shed and entertainment areas. One unsuspecting young man was spotted under the bridge practicing his boxing thinking that no one could really see him, but we did.  For the remainder of the trip, we referred to him as Rocky.

Rocky's training grounds.

The swim up bar - it's a bit dark to see,
but there are seats all lined up around the bar.
Holly's birthday was in early October and when Niki found out she booked a trip to Cuba, she immediately went out and bought her a 'bubba'. When I saw it I said, "How the heck are you going to fit that in your luggage?" - Turns out, it came in very handy because she used it to transport her sunglasses and fragile items on the way there, and it housed her cigars for the return trip home.  When she found out I was going on the trip too Niki said, "You're  going to want one too mom, because you only get small 5oz cups for your drinks at the bar and that will be gone before you even get to the beach.  This way; you're good for a few hours".  Plus it keeps drinks cold for 12 hours.  So I purchased one, but I got the smaller version since I don't really drink that much. ( now...shhhh... Jayne...)

Ready to relax, drinks are full, timer is set so we know when to turn over.
Now, I'm not one to sit still for long and I really didn't know how I was going to handle this vacation just sitting around all week.  Niki and Shawn said, "You better take lots to read, cause by mid week I can see you going stir crazy".  Surprisingly though, I did not.  I took 5 books with me and didn't even crack open one of them. I'm guessing that was telling me how badly I needed a vacation. Being so far away from home, no phones, no computers, no commitments ... it's amazing how detaching yourself from those things can make you forget about everything else back home

My view as I relax by the pool. 
Others enjoyed the pool as well.

Now, this was a real treat to watch.  This father spent a great deal of time in the pool with this baby and she just loved it.  I can't tell you how many times he just walked around the pool balancing her on his hands and she never once fell.  You could see her little body bobbing back and forth to stay balanced.  She was so cute.

This is one of my favourite photos.
Now the interesting thing about people watching is that you never know what you'll end up seeing.  This unsuspecting couple weren't shy at all about their public display of affection and you could really tell when he stood up.  This was first thing in the morning at the pool and so we referred to them as the Morningwoodies.  For some strange reason though... they suddenly got up and left, but returned a short while after.  hmmmmm I wonder why.....

Zoom lens. More than one meaning
Stay tuned... next posting: UFO's 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cuba - Part 3

While in Cuba, Holly and I were debating what we wanted to do outside of the resort.  We considered a full day excursion on a catamaran, going to the new dolphin center or popping into town to go to a spa and have a massage. I said to Holly, "You know... really, I came here to relax, I really don't feel like the 12 hour full day excursion and we can get a massage at home and it's covered on our drug plan... so let's go swimming with the dolphins; we can't do that at home!!  

Just this year they finished building a Dolphin Center just 10 minutes up the road from our resort.  Bonus !!  You could pay $3.00 to get into the Center and watch the dolphins and the shows and stay for as long as you like.  And for $60 you could get in the water and interact with the dolphins.

This is Kiki. If memory serves me correctly, she is 14 years old.
We stood on a cement platform in order to interact with the dolphins and -  man!!!!!!  - I wished I had remembered my water-shoes because the platform was slimy!  We tried our best to stay in one spot so we didn't have to touch any more slime. LOL  - gross -

We were shown different hand gestures that made Kiki do her many tricks.
Kiki really liked to show off. 

Kiki swam around with Holly holding on.
...then it was my turn. This was so much fun.
I highly recommend this activity if you have the opportunity when down south. We met up with some of the people who went on the full day excursion, but when they swam with the dolphins, there were about 12 people in a circle treading water and the dolphins swam amongst them all.  We on the other hand got one on one attention and we were allowed to rub Kiki's belly, we brushed her teeth, she danced when we made certain hand gestures, we felt her heatbeat when we touched under her fin and best of all, she took us for a ride.  We had a blast with Kiki.   

More to come.... 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cuba - Part 2

Well I promised you some photos to chase away the winter woes, so.... here goes.  

This first photo was taken on our second day here, this was the only time the beach was open, hence the green flag.  It was only open for a total of 2 hours the entire week we were there because we went when it was just finishing up their rainy season at the end of November.  We didn't know at the time that the waters were going to be so rough the rest of the week or we would have taken advantage of the few hours we had while it was open. Oh well.... 

We were fortunate because it was 27 degrees the entire week, the sun was shining every single day.  To us, it was glorious; to the Cubans, it was cold.  We're in our bathing suits all day long, and some of them were in long sleeve shirts or jackets. They couldn't believe we would even get in the ocean or pools, but for us it was warm!

I love the colour of the water.
The Brentwood ladies should love this
Maybe we should consider an extra 'southern' retreat??
Headin' down to the lounge chairs and getting ready to chill.
What a feeling to be lulled by the waves!!
Holly and I chillin' as we watch a storm rolling in.
One of my favourite things to do is to sit at lake Huron - 10 min from my place - and watch a storm come in.  This was quite fascinating watching it come in over the ocean - I love how half the sky is storm and half is sunshine.

The waves are starting to pick up now.
A quick glance to the left again to check out the sky... and ... oh my - there's a little extra 'scenery' for those of you who are interested.

... an added bonus to the scenery.
Swinging that camera a little more to the right and oh no... more added scenery, - quick - let's swing that camera all the way around to the right now and check out the other side.

"Hey Mr. - you forgot your suspenders !"

OMG - am I really seeing that?  
Quick... move the camera back. 
Move the camera back!!!

I will never feel bad about my bathing suit again!
I will never feel bad about my bathing suit again!
I will never feel bad about my bathing suit again!

The waves are really picking up now. 

It looks like we better get packing up our things!

I love the contrast of the sky against the whitecaps. 
It was morning when these pictures were taken.
We gathered our things and headed back up to the resort.  The storm never did come in land though, so we just hung out by the pool for the rest of the day.  The water was rough the entire time we were there, so finally by mid week I said, "OK - I Have to get in the ocean before I go home. I just have to!!"  So one day we all went in together, but only knee deep as the waves were so forceful and I couldn't believe how much it stirred up the ocean floor.  One step and you could go from knee deep to suddenly up to your waist and one more step and you could be up to your neck.  We all made sure to stay close to the shore and very close to each other.  At one point, I did fall down and I couldn't get up before a wave was about to cash over me.  Crystal and her mom had to help me up quickly,  as the undertow was very strong.  We had a blast though in the short time we did get to venture out into the water.  

You can see how close I am to the shoreline
and yet how how deep it is.

What adventure awaits us next...?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cuba - Part 1

Last Thanksgiving, my daughter Holly was home for the holidays and she was so excited because she had just booked her first ‘down south’ vacation.  We were talking and I asked her, “Who are you going to Cuba with?”   She replied, “Crystal and her mom. (then the lightbulb comes on…) – gasp – you wanna go with us? – You’ll love Crystal’s mom!”  To which I sadly had to reply, “Thanks for asking, but no… I don’t have the money right now to go on a vacation to Cuba”  “Ahhhh, That’s too bad, 'cuz we’d have fun”, she said.

As luck would have it, two days later, I won an award at work. The prize: A trip voucher!  Can you believe it?  It was meant to be!!

So I called my other daughter Niki and said, “Don’t say anything to Holly yet, but if I can rearrange my holidays I’m thinking about joining her – what details can you give me regarding her departure and return dates?”  Niki said, “Better yet… my friend just happened to be the one that booked the trip, so I’ll have her email you with all the details”  So… with all the details at hand, I was able to rearrange my vacation time at work and head down south for what was also MY first tropical vacation.   Between the two of us, we took well over a thousand pictures.  Thank goodness for digital cameras and memory cards.

Let’s chase away our winter woes with a refreshing change of scenery.... and a bit of fun!

The view from our balcony.
The view as we leave our complex and head out for a walk.
First stop: the white sandy beaches!!
Thank you LFCU for this amazing voucher towards my trip!
My feet are in the ocean for the first time in my life!
So glad I got that pedicure.
Someone is clearly excited.  She wishes to remain nameless,
but she sure can catch some air!!
Holly and I on our first night -- relaxing in the lounge bar. 
And as each night goes by, another drink to taste and try.
.. and try ...
...and try..
...and by now I have NO idea what I'm laughing at.
The really funny thing is: I am not a drinker.
Apparently, Holly has had a few too many daiquiri's by the pool!
Cuba Day - dancers entertained us by the pool side in their colourful costumes.

More colourful attire.
About to make coconut drinks....
just what I need - more drinks!!
Dem dare's some fine cocoanuts!
Stay tuned ... there are many more pictures to come.

Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016 was held at Jody's this year and we were lucky we had good weather for our travel eastbound.  If there is going to be a...