Thursday, April 26, 2007

A week in review

Sunday (departure)
Airport security surprisingly lax, suspect staff is just as fed up with ridiculous procedures as travellers. At the airport with Matt and me are mom, dad, Caty, Rick, Shari, Matt's uncle and aunt (Dana and Jill), Stacy, Dan, Vanessa and Miriam. Mike D.'s flight was on Friday. Bill, Jen, Chris, Laura, Nick and Lisa were all to fly out on Saturday. Bruce, Jess, Mike S., Tita Virgie and Jon were due to arrive in Cuba on Monday evening. Flight largely uneventful — some minor turbulence. Arrival at the resort results in greeting from Saturday's group (no one had heard from or seen Mike D.). Bill and Chris do their part to keep Matt and I plied with copious amounts of alcohol. First night of drinking. I stall at bedtime to sober up.

Day is overcast, spend most of the morning and early afternoon wandering the resort, bumping into various groups of friends who are doing same. Matt located Mike D. on previous evening, so they tour the resort with Chris and Laura. I assign myself the task of taking photography of flora which represents all primary and secondary colours on the colour wheel. Late afternoon brings sun, most of us are lounging by the pool at the time to take it in. Give the Chungs and Mike S. their hugs when I bump into them at buffet that night. New guests means increased flow of rum. Drinking night #2: Bill, Bruce, Chris and me hang out at the pool bar well past when the others have gone to bed. I get my Spanish lessons from Demy (the cook/el cosina at the pool bar) while Orlando (bar staff) looks on approvingly.

Ocean! I'm frankly surprised I waited this long to go in the water. Gave the underwater case for my digital camera its maiden voyage (thanks, dad!) In the evening, Matt asks if I'd rather he and I were spending more time as a couple, to which I respond that we have the rest of our lives to take trips together, whereas this vacation may be the only time we have so many friends and family gathered in one place, sharing it with us.

Lisandro, the omelette-chef is doing his part to improve my Spanish as well. Falling comfortably into my Group of Seven, comprised of "The Girls" (Caty, Vanessa and Miriam, who shared a room) and "The Chungs" (Bruce, Jess and Mike S.). Mir and I hang out in the Chungs' room in the evening, watching Eragon, a distressingly bad movie.

Mandatory beach-time in the morning. Tita Virgie seems delighted to feed the sunfish at the ocean. In true me-spirit, I'm actually disappointed that my valuable swimming time is going to be interrupted, even if it is for the single most important ceremony in my life. The notary is delayed for an hour, so — while everyone else is sweltering in the resort lobby in their formal wear — dad, Caty and I are hanging out in an air-conditioned room. I get eaten alive by mosquitoes the moment we leave the room (I think I counted 12 in total over the course of that hour). Dinner at the International Restaurant is yummy, but stiflingly hot and buggy. The pace I've been keeping ensures that I'm completely wiped-out by midnight. Call it an early night.

Mike D. leaves early enough in the morning that none of us sees him off. Sorry Mike! Playa Pilar (Pilar Beach) half-day trip with Chris, Laura, Bill, Jen, Caty, Vanessa, Miriam, me, Matt, Bruce, Jess and Mike D. Stunning, fine, white sand beach, clear, blue water. The Group of Seven gathers in the Chung room in the evening for An Inconvenient Truth which we'd probably think was overly manipulative, if any of us were quite sober. Blame it on the fact that The Girls were feeding mosquitoes at the Cuban Restaurant at dinner and wanted something to "dull the pain". That, and Mike S. bringing Bruce and I generous helpings of 7 Year Old Cuban rum on top of what The Girls were providing.

Already starting to feel bummed out that our departure is the following day. Matt spends the day hanging out with Chris, Laura, Nick and Lisa, as they will depart that evening. I'm back at the beach for the majority of the day, where there are impressive waves. I go to bed still feeling them, after having said my goodbyes to the Saturday-departure group.

Check-out at noon. Matt, me and The Girls stow our bags in The Chungs' room (thanks again!) Most of us spend the rest of the day between the pool and the resort lobby. I catch a cat-nap on a lounge by the pool and eat lots of junk food. The Pringles knock-offs are tasty. Mir, Caty, Vanessa and I have one final bout with mosquitoes at the airport, before I realize I packed bug spray for just such an emergency. Board the plane an hour early. Catch another nap on the plane, during The Pursuit of Happyness which looks unbelievably depressing. I think the giant mass of lights below the plane when I wake is Washington, D.C. Our pilot seems a bit rushed — he doesn't warn us before he makes his descent. We land at 1am on Monday. Home by 2am.

Back to being "wired". Back to making my own meals (which are good, but lack the variety of a buffet). Back to reception-planning. Back to disjointedness. I think Vanessa hit the nail on the head on Friday night when she said she'd miss the "community". Being able to drop in on friends like that was an unparalleled experience. This is one of those definitive moments in a person's life. Suspect I'll also have a lot of embittered, personal reflection on the injustices of not living on the ocean.

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