1 Jan 2021
27 Dec 2020
the beginning of the year, when COVID-19 brought the world to a
grinding halt, who knew we would still be so profoundly in its clutches
by the close of 2020? I certainly didn't! Travel, for the most part,
remains stalled. I continue to be reticent to even consider it,
particularly with respect to leading groups. I'm sure that will change
in 2021 but, at this juncture, I cannot predict a date.
Meanwhile, you can travel to Cuba, in a sense, through my novels! The first book in the Cuban Kisses series is now in print and orders will be sent out during the week following Christmas. As you might imagine, I'm rather excited! It's been described as both a gripping thriller and a steamy romance, populated with engaging and memorable characters, and woven together with an intense love and knowledge of Cuban culture. For now, it's only available from my publisher's website. If you want a signed copy, just indicate as such when you order it – I'll be happy to inscribe it for you!
The photo I used to create the image at the top of this email was taken in Cuba, where they have magnificent, monstrous poinsettias. I've very much missed being there this year... and I've missed visiting other friends and family elsewhere too. In this unusual holiday season, I hope you find ways to celebrate and to fill your cups with joy. Hug your family and friends in your hearts and smile as often as possible – even if it's beneath a mask! Go gently, be kind, merry Christmas and shalom.
6 Nov 2020
|Marea del Portillo beach – southwestern Cuba|
Travel to Cuba is starting to roll again – make that fly – which is very exciting! International flights have begun landing and have been warmly welcomed. Cuba has set up mandatory free COVID testing upon arrival, as well as other appropriate protocols to keep both visitors and local residents safe.
I know a number of people who are planning trips and will be going within the upcoming weeks. I'm still watching and waiting to see how things go. I don't feel comfortable taking a group just yet but, if nothing worsens here in Canada or in Cuba in the next few months, I would love to slip off on my own for a scouting mission at the start of the new year!
Meanwhile, Cuba remains in my heart and mind, as always. I guess you could say that I've been mentally traveling there, perhaps more than usual. And, now you can too! The Cuba-centric novel I've been working on for the past couple of years is FINALLY available for sale!!! (Yes, I'm rather excited.)
We don't have the physical copies of Cuban Kisses back from the printer yet but you can pre-order online through my publisher's website. In fact, if you're fast enough, you can get a signed copy (I will sign the first 100 books that are ordered) AND, if you pre-order the sequel at the same time, you'll get a discount of approximately $5 on the two-book package. Cuban Wishes, the second book in the series, should be out in the early part of 2021.
Here are the links for ordering one or both...
Once the books are printed, we will be having some virtual or actual events but, at the moment, these are still in the planning stages.
Until we can safely travel once again, I hope you will enjoy this fictional adventure-romance trip to Cuba!
21 Sept 2020
Let's aim for a trip to Cuba in 2021!
have been many rumors floating around about what will or won't be
possible regarding travel to dear Marea del Portillo, Cuba, this year.
I've been watching and waiting, not wanting to book another trip that
might be cancelled. As well, there were many unanswered questions
regarding isolation/quarantine due to the ongoing COVID-19 issues. Upon
return to Canada, would we need to hide out for two weeks? How would
testing factor in? What about insurance?
For most of the summer, Sunwing had been offering flights to Manzanillo de Cuba beginning in mid October. Some of my friends eagerly booked trips but I still had reservations. I felt that late November would be more viable. Then, October options disappeared from the Sunwing website and, not long after that, so did November. Their site is still showing trips available beginning Dec. 16 but I'm skeptical because I've heard from a trusted source that Sunwing will be cancelling all trips to Manzanillo (Marea), Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba for their winter travel season. Some of my early-booking friends have been advised their trips have been cancelled; others are awaiting what is likely coming.
Maybe things will open up by April 2021 but, of course, nothing is certain. There are still simply too many variables. Outside of Havana, Cuba seemed to be doing pretty well with respect to controlling COVID. Unfortunately, despite precautions, cases of the virus are now on the upswing in other provinces – mainly those close to Havana. Provincial borders have been closed to all except essential travel.
However, Cuba has cautiously opened the doors to tourism in "the Cayos" (islands along the northeastern coast), where the guests can be contained and not allowed onto the mainland; a plan intended to protect both foreigners and nationals. They are also providing free mandatory COVID tests to anyone entering the country and have other health/safety protocols in place. Sunwing and other major airlines are now offering travel packages to Cayo Coco, etc. and have added free COVID-19 insurance coverage. I suspect that Sunwing is planning to drop other Cuban destinations this winter in order to swing tourism traffic to the Cayos, so they're more likely to have full planes and non-discounted prices.
Since it does not appear that we're really out of the woods yet regarding COVID, either in Cuba or North America, I intend to keep watching and waiting. I most certainly HOPE to be able to travel to Marea in the early part of 2021! However, I've stopped anticipating a trip there this year, I'm very sad to say. If the stars were to align and an opportunity presented itself, I would definitely jump on a plane but, at this moment, I just don't see that happening.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for something to offset a potential Cuba-deficit disorder, I may be able to help. I've recently signed a deal to have my first novel published! Entitled, Cuban Kisses / Cuban Wishes, it should be out in November. It's primarily set in Cuba, at a fictionalized version of Marea del Portillo. I will send out a note when it's available to order through my publisher's website. The image below, which I shot at Marea a few years ago, is the template for the book's cover.
2 Sept 2020
Stay tuned! I will be posting news of my forthcoming book very soon.
I have signed a deal with Ripple Press and we expect to have my first novel, Cuban Kisses/Cuban Wishes, published in time for Christmas!
The story is set in a fictionalized version of the Cuban resort where I frequently lead group trips.
1 Jul 2020
I'm happy to be living here, even though I find the winters too long. No place is perfect but I think we have a pretty decent track record, in general, when it comes to environmental issues, human rights and politicians that aren't completely appalling. Our history isn't without blips but we've done reasonably well over all and, certainly, are doing better than many countries.
As I see it, we're sort of a savory stew as a nation; some bits are nicely tender and other chunks are chewy. Maybe it needs more time to cook properly, or just some seasoning. I'm no expert so, if you disagree with my simplistic assessment, I'm sorry – but I'm not sorry to be Canadian!
20 Jun 2020
I love this photo because of the setting and the man's gentle, solicitous body language. He's actually the grandfather of the little boy, Evri-Daniel. I took this shot several years ago and, since then, have had many enjoyable visits with this busy little family. They live just outside of the Marea del Portillo village and are lovely, kind and quite religious people.
Evri-Daniel now has two younger sisters, as well as an older one, but the father, Arisbel, has assured me there won't be any more! Their two-room hut is rather crowded already, although Arisbel plans to add on. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this family again – especially the newest addition, Betsy Ruth, who was born in early April.
If my April group trip had not been cancelled due to the pandemic, I would have been there soon after the birth, loaded with baby clothes and other gifts. I hope I'm able to visit before she grows too much!