Wednesday, March 12, 2008

playa blanca

I am back in the country; back to the worst winter in 15 years. Just in time for a spring forward time change. Early for the second year in a row and with all of this snow I find the light confusing. But good.

Tropical thunderstorms in Cuba and more snow in Toronto threatened to keep me there, but the plane took off. I never would have guessed I would find a week in a tropical paradise more than enough, but it was. I didn't want to be there for another night, if you can believe it. I mean seriously, take a look at the photo. That was my week.

White flour sand, the clearest cleanest most turquoise water I have ever seen, and warm too, especially when the tide was low. If it was just that I would be crazy to be so ready to face the relentless winter, but there is always more.

The food was terrible. I mean terrible. I sort of knew that going in, however I was still surprised. I mean even the fruit was bad...or canned. Even worse. If you like gristly mystery meat paired with brussel sprouts in a milky fluid, you would have been in heaven. So I became a vegetarian for the week.

Then there were the other guests. They were either young Quebecois couples with their children, elderly British couples baking themselves to a deep orangey-red, girls each sporting almost identical tattoos across their lower backs and their boyfriends in tank tops. There is something so unappealing about men in tank tops. Lana and I just didn't really find a place there. I think we were the only single people there, unless you count the gay couple or the group of ladies who harassed them. One night in the cigar lounge they got pulled over to a table by these women in their late 30's/40's. I watched them reluctantly drag their chairs over. Minutes later I heard one of them squeal,

"Gay guys make the BEST friends!!!"

"And like they are SO good looking”, another added. “I'm always like, that is SUCH a waste!!!"

I was so embarrassed for them. All I could do was shake my head.

I should have known I was in the wrong place the first time we went to eat and most of the people seemed to have no problem with the food.

The beach won me over, but after the first few breathtaking views coming up over the mangroves I just wanted it without all of the rest. In addition to the people and the food, along the path to the beach, there was a strong stench of shit in the air, which I also could have done without.

I left the resort only once, and it was by catamaran to a coral reef to snorkel. It was beautiful and peaceful and I could have done it every day.

There was nowhere else to go. Havana was hundreds of miles away unfortunately.

I sat in the shade on the beach, read constantly, wrote nothing, smoked some cohibas, did not overeat [or should I say COULD NOT], deliberately did not get a burn [or consequently much of a tan], and all of that left me recharged and offset some of the stuff that annoyed me, like watching people eating bad food, waving around pesos like they were big spenders to get special treatment at the buffet or the bar, and listening to parents bargain with there children.

"Madison, can Mommy put your sunscreen on?"


"Come on Maddy, please can Mommy put your sunscreen on?"


"Ok, then can Daddy put Madison's sunscreen on?"


If it is not an option, do not ask a two year old permission. Do not spend 30 minutes reasoning with them.

They say no. That's what two year olds do.

I have never seen such an incredible beach and I have never relaxed this much in my life. Lana and I wanted the same things out of the week and so it was ok that I went to bed by 10 pm every night. I could not keep my eyes open. I woke naturally to the sounds of birds between 6 and 7 every morning. I ate pretty healthy [i.e., didn't eat much], drank cappuccinos and rum, played tennis, read, napped, swam, read, napped, swam, and then started all over again. I did what I wanted to do.

But overall, something about the circumstance in that place didn't sit right with me. Beyond the bad food and the smell of sewage, something was off.

Maybe it was that the people who live there can never leave, despite all the potential—so much life— bubbling under the surface. It was palpable, and so fully enjoying this incredibly contrived paradise didn't resonate with me for long. All of the rest and relaxation could only mask that hollow feeling, almost a metallic taste in my mouth. When it was time to come home, I was ready. Rested and relaxed without a doubt, but ready.

No comments: