27 Oct 2013

Plan your escape: "Jennica 2014"

Nov. 22, 2013 - UPDATE:

I've just returned from Cuba and am busily preparing for my next group trip to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, Feb. 26. See the "Jennica 2014" poster for all the basic info, if you want to join us. 

Since I wrote the original post below, I've added a few more people and made some plans for optional group activities. As I mentioned, a baseball game with Cuban kids is in the works. It will take place in the village of Pilón, tentatively on Sunday afternoon, March 2, followed by dinner at the Mirador, a charming Cuban restaurant with a phenomenal view of the ocean and surrounding countryside.

Although I hadn't originally had a theme in mind for this group, one has bubbled forth: art! Several wonderful Muskoka artists have signed up and, during my last trip, a Cuban amigo offered to organize an art tour in Manzanillo. Perfect! I am now in the process of arranging a bus, price and date for this. We will be able to see sculptures and paintings by excellent Cuban artists such as Ramon Cisnero, whom I had the chance to meet when he was exhibiting some of his work in Toronto this summer.

The road trip to Manzanillo will include lunch in that city and a visit to the Celia Sanchez museum in Media Luna (Half Moon - named for the arc of the river running through the city) on the way back to the resort. Celia's an iconic Cuban revolutionary figure who grew up in Media Luna but lived part of her life in Pilón. To say she helped shape Cuban history would be an understatement!

I'm very excited about how this trip is shaping up. This is going to be a great group of people to hang out with and we're going to have an incredibly memorable time.

Come on along!
(original post)

Hello everyone,

Winter's on the doorstep and I'm planning my escape. Want to join me? The poster below will give you the pertinent data. This eclectic group is called "Jennica 2014" and anyone's welcome. So far, we have 16 people signed up, including my hubby and a bunch of kids! 

One of the boys (age 11) is hoping to organize a baseball game with some of the local children. That should be a whole heap of fun and highly memorable - for participants and observers alike! We're already collecting gloves and balls. And, of course, we'll take a pile of bikes too.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions but please note: I'll be away with the 2013 Yoga Posse Oct. 29-Nov. 14, so will not be able to respond to emails until after I return. Meanwhile, please spread the word about this trip by sharing this post.


I’m off to “inspect” the renovations at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, Cuba!

Finally, I have time and energy to write and update this site! It was a busy summer and fall only lasted a few minutes. Now, we’re heading downhill into winter – it’s already snowed here in Muskoka several times! Before I begin hibernation, however, I’m going to recharge my batteries by visiting my favorite haven in Cuba, Marea del Portillo.

I will be leading the 2013 Yoga Posse there on Oct. 29. That’s just 1.5 more sleeps! (Since we have to leave the house by midnight on Oct. 28 to catch a crazy-early flight on the 29th, I only count night that as half a sleep.) This year, the posse is a little smaller than usual – only 18 - but it will be a nice mixture of people, ranging in age from 13 to 86. Some are new and others have traveled with me to this resort several times.

This resort, Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, in the sun-soaked south end of the island, has one of the highest rates of repeat clients in the entire country. It’s not just my groups! The primary reasons, in my estimation, are because of the gracious warmth of the people, both working at the resort and in the surrounding community, and the magnificent natural environment. The majestic Sierra Maestra Mountains rise behind the resort and, in front, the Caribbean ocean spills into a peaceful horseshoe bay.

As much as I love this place, of course, I know it’s not perfect. What place is? One of my dear friends bought the romantic little log cabin in the woods that she had long dreamed of living in. It was in rough shape, according to almost anyone’s standards, and the plumbing/septic system was pure crap. But, she loved it. She was willing to overlook and forgive its inadequacies, and to gradually fix it up.

Those who love Club Amigo Marea del Portillo are more likely to understand and forgive any shortcomings, naturally. I’ve read the complaints on Trip Advisor and other site; they mainly focus on the food and, sometimes, the accommodation.

Regarding the food, I’ve never left the buffet hungry, despite my assorted dietary challenges. The locally baked bread, for instance, always gets top marks but I can’t have more than a taste without disrupting my annoyingly delicate digestive system. There is generally a good selection of meat, fresh fruits and vegetables but this can be limited by seasonal availability, and because the resort is far from some of the government-condoned suppliers. They do the best they can with what they have. And, one of the things they always have is lobster; some of the best lobster I’ve ever eaten has been served here!

When it comes to accommodation, in my experience, it’s been quite adequate. It’s not a 5-star resort, so don’t expect chocolates on your pillow. (Conversely, I sometimes leave chocolates on my pillow for the maid, along with a tip.) The entire facility is fastidiously cleaned each day, including the beach, and improvements are being made, as supplies and money allow. The cabañas and other buildings are regularly painted and new structures have gradually been added in the last few years.

This year, a great wave of renovations is underway. I’ve heard about a few things and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what’s been done and to learning about what’s being planned. I will, of course, “inspect” the work and provide a review and photos after I return from my upcoming trip.

Now, however, I’ve got to get back to packing! Besides, this post is getting a little long but, don’t worry, the next one will be short. It will be a poster about another trip I’m planning. Want to join me? Booking has already begun for this Feb. 26-March 5 winter-escape holiday, “Jennica 2014.” Come on along! Maybe you, too, will fall in love with this wonderful little resort.

[Please note: You can contact me via jennicacuba@gmail.com but I will not be able to reply while I’m in Cuba, Oct. 29-Nov. 14.]

~ Jenny