Winter Holiday in Cuba

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Our second winter back in Canada and we’ve now completed the cultural integration milestone of going on an all-inclusive holiday to Cuba.* G’s parents arrived just before Christmas, and we flew together via Sunwing to Varadero. Despite the questionable reputation of Sunwing (there is even a Facebook group dedicated to their horror stories), our flight was cramped but okay. And the passengers applauded when we landed! (Cue memories of flying in China years ago…)

No, not an aeroflot plane… Sunwing must have bought it from a Czech airline.

Juan G. Gomez airport in Varadero gave me vibes of the airport in Dar es Salaam:

After exiting immigration, everyone was funnelled out to the exit where we found a Sunwing guy who directed us to one of the several awaiting charter buses. The bus driver offered cold beers for $5 (I think this could be CAD or USD), but we declined. After all the Sunwing passengers boarded, we started the half-hour drive to Varadero accompanied by a local bus guide, who among other things offered to exchange our Canadian dollars for pesos (at 10 CUP per CAD).

It was at this point that I encountered los tabernacos for the first time: a Quebecois man insisted that our bus guide sing Guantanamera to us (which he sadly obliged, over the mic and out of tune).

After stopping at a couple other hotels, we finally arrived at ours: Hotel Sol Caribe Beach. The rooms were good, there was only one problem; it was 11 PM and this was blaring beneath us:

It was fine in the end (ended at midnight)… And the next day we enjoyed the beach that everyone comes here for. Not bad for December 25th.

* By the first quarter of 2023, Canadians accounted for 52% of tourists traveling to Cuba — all while record numbers of Cubans were trying to flee the country.