4 Apr 2020

Great expectations about Cuba travel

These three kids have a new baby sister! I believe they'll be adding another room to the house this summer. I'll be looking forward to seeing this growing family and their expanded home in November!
 
A few weeks ago, I was busily preparing to lead a trip to Cuba, sending out information to my group members and making sure all the booking details had been finalized. Now, in what would have been the home stretch before the anticipated April 15 departure, I would have been knee-deep in packing. I would have been determinedly trying to stuff as much as I could into two suitcases weighing no more than 50 lbs./23 kg each. That's the typical pre-trip pattern.

If the world had continued as usual, I would have had my suitcases laid out on the sofa bed in the den with beach towels, bundles of clothing and an array of other things piled nearby. My personal items would come later; they generally take up only a small percentage of allowable luggage capacity since most of the things I take to Cuba are gifts. 

This time, I'd planned to take special gifts for some growing families. When I was at Marea del Portillo this past October/November, I learned that four young women I know were due to give birth right around the time of my next expected visit. For two of them, this will be the first baby, another will be having her second child and the fourth is on her fourth. 

A few days ago, I received a brief email from the excited father in the latter family to say his wife had just birthed a 7.2-lb. girl. He was rushing off to the maternity hospital in Manzanillo, about 2 hours from their home. I'm still waiting for further messages to tell me the baby's name and reassure me that mom and babe are okay. Is there more danger of contracting COVID-19 in a large hospital than in a small community? I certainly hope not!

Instead of thinking about what gifts for my friends, I'm now concerned about how they're doing. Will they be okay in these difficult times? How much will they be at risk as they go out and about to get food and other necessities? Will they even have soap? [Soap had been in short supply recently, so I have bags of bars ready to pack and go!]

In Cuba, people typically need to shop more frequently than many North Americans do and, unfortunately, they must often stand in line to wait their turn to enter the shops. As well, in that highly social culture it will be a big challenge not to greet friends with kisses and hugs! So, social distancing will be difficult for people in Cuba for many reasons.

This will be the first time in over a decade that I haven't taken a trip to Cuba in the first quarter of the year. I won't likely be able to go to my "second home" in Marea del Portillo until the middle of November, even though I'm sure the travel ban will be lifted long before that. This will be a long year but I'm already looking forward to big hugs and many kisses when I'm finally able to see my friends again, and to meet all the newly minted babies!

By the time I see this young man again, he'll be a father for the first time!

Keep smiling,
Jenny

30 Mar 2020

Staying safe and dreaming of travel...


Dear everyone,

The world has become a crazy place in a very short time. I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and healthy, as well as taking good care to stay that way.

As I'm sure you're aware, the coronavirus pandemic means that international travel is not currently possible... but that can't stop me from dreaming! When we've come through this, as I'm confident we will, I'll be happy to lead group trips to Cuba again, and to book private trips for families, friends or individuals who would like my assistance – going to Cuba or elsewhere. 

At the top of my dream-planning list is the group I lead annually to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, Cuba. Usually, I've offered this trip during the last part of October, rolling into the first part of November. This year, however, as I've been regularly checking the Sunwing website to monitor prices, I noticed that departures on Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 were intermittently disappearing – long before any COVID-19 concerns arose! For that reason, I decided to target Nov. 11 or 18 as potential 2020 departure dates. However, I will keep watching for the best rates, even on other dates, and let you know. 

IF this group trip does go in mid November rather than late October, it may mean the larger Farallón del Caribe hotel will also be open. That might be a nice change for those who have only been at the resort when the Marea section was open! Typically, the Farallón only operates during the high season, when there are also flights from Montreal servicing this resort. This year... well, we'll have to wait and see what evolves.

Meanwhile, please be cautious, careful and kind in all that you do, and keep smiling! We WILL get through this and be able to enjoy travel beyond the confines of our own homes once again. 

Take care,
Jenny

13 Feb 2020

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

I took this heart photo a few years ago, on one of my visits to a magical place 
known as "Fusterlandia." A little west of Havana in the village of Jaimanitas, 
this is the home/gallery of amazing mosaic artist José Fuster. ~ Jenny



15 Jan 2020

This trip has been cancelled – sorry!


UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this trip had to be cancelled. In mid March, Sunwing cancelled all southbound flights through the end of April. Cuba subsequently closed its borders to tourism. 

I hope it will be safe to travel again in the not too distant future. When it is, I will be happy to lead group trips to Cuba again!

Take care,
Jenny 

-------

Hola mis amigos!

It's still possible to join the crew going to my "second home" at Marea del Portillo, Cuba, on April 15, for either one week or two. Although accommodation at the Farallón Hotel is no longer available, there's space in the Marea Hotel or the nearby cabañas, both of which are beach level. The ocean is, essentially, right in your back yard!


Don't wait too long, though, because space is very, VERY limited and, after Feb. 12, the prices could change. Please get in touch with me soon, if you're interested in going on this trip to warm, wonderful Cuba!
  

FEB. 4 UPDATE: 

We're getting down to the wire for this trip


There are only four seats left at the advertised rates for my April 15 trip to lovely Marea del Portillo, Cuba, and the deadline to sign up is looming! After Feb. 12, it may still be possible to join the group but the prices will likely be higher.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think may be intersted, especially if they like mangos! The mango season will just be starting there, so this a delicious time to visit. April is also the time of the annual crab migration along the Cuban coast. Every year, female land crabs migrate from the forest to release their eggs into the sea, and it's certainly something to see!

 


Gracias,
Jenny

1 Jan 2020

Can you envision a 2020 trip?

Happy New Year! What's planned for 2020?

I have a plan... escape to "my second home" in Cuba, right after Easter!

You're invited to join me, of course. The poster below provides all the basic information, including the fast-approaching deadline to book (Jan. 12). As you will see, the best price is for two weeks' double accommodation in the Farallón Hotel's "Superior" rooms. That was a surprise to me! I can't explain it. Sunwing is a quirky company. 


If you're not tired of winter yet, won't you be by April? Give yourself a light at the end of the snowdrift and plan a trip to Cuba with me!

Meanwhile, I hope you have a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration, however you choose to mark the end of 2019.

Hasta luego,
Jenny

Wishing everyone lots of good stuff...


Enjoy the holidays, however you prefer to celebrate!