Monday, May 1, 2017

We're 3 for 3 with yernos

My goal for this weekend was to post to the blog and….it's late Monday evening… but I've had a number of goals for the weekend which have not been met so….here we go:

Since Saturday there's been catching up with the mail and news, paying some bills, unpacking, laundry, walks, community breakfast, passport renewal, errands, appointments, planning for a post wedding shower for the bride and….packing for work. So excited to be able to do that after a year off and at times wondering if I'd ever make it back. Can't wait to return to the land of white, guess we will get our 2017 winter after all…if only for the month of May in 24 hours of daylight, albeit at -34c this week. Bit different to be shopping / packing food for two, inquiring about non resident small game licenses and ice fishing gear, but the shore captain has to be entertained while I work, no one wants a bored house boy underfoot for four weeks. 

But in keeping with the plan of….avoid winter by travel to warmer climes, this update will focus on the past month spent in Cuba - the land of sun, fun, rum and….our newest son-in-law. It was a fun but fully packed four weeks and as I said to the travel partner on the way to the airport "it'll be difficult to come here for less than a month after this". Photo gallery at the bottom of this post. 

We were so pleased to meet our third son-in-law (yerno in Spanish) after two years of messages, phone and video chats and find that he's a great guy and one we would've chosen ourselves if it was our decision. His English was stronger than anticipated, he's not just handsome but funny, engaging and has clearly fallen head over heels for our daughter. His family are warm and welcoming and we were spoiled with their hospitality. The vacation sped by quickly with wedding preparations, lots of visiting with the arrivals and departures of Canadian guests and generally enjoying hot, hot, hot Cuban weather (temperatures in the mid 30c range). There was a lot of rain / flooding the week after the guests headed home but the weather was beautiful for the festivities with sunshine and a breeze. The bride and her sisters looked beautiful thanks to a makeup artist friend and the bride's hair was done by her brother's hairdresser partner (nice to travel with professionals). The father of the bride was stylin in his black guayabera (Cuban dress shirt) which was lightweight and tieless while my coral coloured dress was cool and packs like a t-shirt so both will become travel wardrobe staples. It was wonderful to have all the kids and grandkids together for a weekend for a positive family event like 'la boda' (that's wedding in Spanish) which doesn't happen often enough. Our granddaughter is seven months old now and as a chubby, smiling, blonde was a huge star, our grandson was fun to do activities with and both were entertained extensively by Cubans who missed them after departure. Needless to say the week after the wedding when the couple left to honeymoon in Camaguey, Ciego de Avila and Holguin….we kept a very low profile on the island of resting, reading, and being served great meals. Since I gained five pounds in my travels there is some realignment of the eating habits after returning. 

One interesting transcultural story I can share involves our grandson and a cute little Cuban girl who was visiting Cayo Damas as her parents were helping with wedding preparations. In my fractured Spanish I managed to ascertain that her name was Lirena and she was seven years old. She and our grandson played together, each speaking their own language while enjoying each others company. I was struggling with our grandson to write a story in his notebook for school (he's good with math but sees no relevance to writing) and having flashes of deja vu from spelling lists with his father at the same age. Lirena observed his messy scrawling with capitals in the centre of words, no spaces, reversed letters etc.  Our daughter gave her a journal (quite a prize as paper is not easily sourced in Cuba) and offered Lirena a pen from the bag - she was rewarded with a bright smile and a polite 'gracias'. Lirena opened the journal cover and choosing a red pen wrote her four names neatly with a flourish in flawless cursive writing. We were speechless….she is our grandsons age, likely thought he was 'special' when she saw his handiwork. That my friends, is what focusing on the essentials (such as education and healthcare) results in. Cursive writing isn't even required in our provincial curriculum! As we made our way to the airport, we passed rural schools with uniformed students sitting quietly in rows practicing their penmanship. It can be done. 

Friday's final travel day was looonnnnngggger than it needed to be, first with late departures, delays at layover and the final indignity of circling Halifax Stanfield Airport at midnight, unable to land (lightning strikes shut down the terminal which was blanketed in fog) then diverting to Moncton where after various options such as trying to head back to Halifax (airport still not open and not sure when it would) return to Toronto and try it again the next day (flight crew had flown from Miami and thus were timed out) or being bussed down (the final decision) although a fair number of folks who elected not to wait for the buses, rented all the available cars and exited. As we groggily waited, then tiredly boarded the bus I noticed a familiar face - a slight mother carrying a sleeping toddler in a front pack while dealing with a screaming preschooler - it was the urologist who has been following me since my post op complications of last June, she, her husband and children were returning from Bahamas. Always seems you meet someone you know when travelling…. Managed to catch a few ZZZZs on the bus and awoke at 4 am to find ourselves arriving at the airport and facing another three hours on the road. Felt as if I'd worked a night shift when we finally arrived home and crawled into bed for a few hours. 

So a few days of tying up the loose ends and we're off. Hoping that the duty travel of this weekend goes smoothly and that the life partner and myself haven't booked ourselves too much togetherness….Next posting from the great white north!

Restuffing a mattress
Sunset on Cayo Damas

Burro in front of the Cayo


1954 Willy Jeep
Cutting the cake

Crib by horse cart and boat

Falcon at Sierra Mar
Market cart in the city

Santiago de Cuba at night