The Adventures of a Mother and Daughter’s Trip to Cuba
In July 2004, my 17 year-old daughter and myself decided to take our 4th trip back to Cuba to an all-inclusive resort. The plan was great, I would sit and roast all day at the beach and she would meet other young people like her and do her thing all day. When I chose the hotel, I specifically took an all-adult place so as not to hear a bunch of kids running around and screaming. What I did not know was that the place I chose was mostly for honeymoons and couples. Here we arrive, and everyone is coupled up, even dogs on the beach were together. After the first day, she is pissed off and swears that she will make my life hell for choosing such a place, and that we will be alone for the duration of our trip. On the second day, lo and behold, two young handsome guys are swimming in the ocean a few feet away from us. They wave, we wave and we’re thinking our luck has just turned. That evening, we stroll around the beach in the dark, under a full moon, when we both look up at the sky and right at that moment a shooting star gushes by. We both make our wish and I just prayed that Amanda would meet the love of her life one day. A few seconds later, our heads turn, and whom do we see, but one of the lads from the beach that day. Amanda decides to go forward and talk with him and after a few minutes, comes back to tell me she has a date for the next day. I’m thinking, wow – that shooting star worked fast, can this be it? His name is Yulio, Cuban, and is working in the hotel for a few weeks painting the restaurant. Great! At last she is happy and I can go back to lying on the beach without a care in the world.
The next night arrives and Amanda and Yulio meet up at the game area and decide to go for a walk and end up taking for hours and hours. I’m at the disco with my new vacation buddies when they both decide to come in and say hi and leave again. The disco closes, the hotel is deserted and they are nowhere to be found. I decide to take a stroll by the beach at 4 o’clock in the morning and find them walking back hand in hand. After a few words, she comes back in and tells me how great he is. Next day, the hotel plans an excursion to a disco far from where we were. The cost is $25 US and we had booked it early on. Naturally Amanda invited Yulio and his friend to join us with the meager sum of $10 US each. Of course I complied and we are off. We danced, they danced, they kissed, as everyone watched as these 2 lovebirds were just carrying on. After we got back, they again stayed at the beach till 6 in the morning. That morning Amanda announces to me that it was Yulio’s last day and she had to come by his room by noon to say goodbye, which she did, but only to find the cleaning lady telling us that he had left early. Amanda is devastated once again and thinks for sure this cannot be it. We go to the reception area where there is a note from him with only his address.
So here we are, 2 days before our departure and she is a basketcase begging me to find him in Havana. Never been to Havana and I don’t know him, except from a few words of broken Spanish. Amanda asks all the staff how to get to Havana and later on brings me the tennis guy with arrangements from a particular driver that will get us there for the meager sum of $60 US. First I thought why not, then I’m going back and forth; yes no yes no yes no, YES. Finally I give in and we are off with someone I’ve never met, to find a guy I don’t know, from the pressure of a 17-year-old wearing my bathing suit and a sarong with wet hair. The driver seemed nice, skeptical of our location, and kept asking us how long we knew this Yulio. You had to see the look on his face when we told him 3 days. I imagined driving up to Havana, in the middle of the city, walking up an apartment building or something like that to find his place. Well no, it was on the outskirts, dilapidated, run down and sure enough the oldest and worst place of them all. An old woman comes out, turns out to be his grandmother and breaks into tears after seeing us. She kept rambling in Spanish, which I found out later to be, ‘please take my grandson away from here.’
Yulio was not there, so we leave him a note with our driver’s cell phone number to reach us. After a few hours of touring Havana, we decided to head back when we received Yulio’s phone call, saying that he will be at the hotel at 8pm. Mission partly accomplished. We did not go for nothing. 8 o’clock comes around and right on the nose he arrives with a driver, his mother and the driver’s daughter. They spent hours smooching and talking, since he was not allowed near the premises of the hotel, and after a few hours, give each other their last goodbye.
What a trip! We are off the next day and I’m thinking, it was a summer romance, that’s it, goodbye, they’ll never see each other again.
After 2 days back in Montreal, Amanda calls him and their conversations have been constant every week. Phone bills have skyrocketed and Amanda and Yulio agreed that it would be a great idea if we went back in December, but only this time only in Havana. We eventually returned for 3 weeks on December 21 and rented not one casa but two in Havana. One for Yulio and Amanda, and the other for me.