Saturday, 19 December 2015


Skip and I spent a week in Cuba a couple of weeks ago. We wanted a cheap 5-star vacation and Cuba fit the bill. It was a short (3.25 hour), direct flight to Santa Clara then a 90 min. bus ride to our resort (Iberostar Ensenachos).

We had a very nice room with a free mini-bar, lots of channels on the TV, bad lighting (only a floor lamp and table lamp in the very large room), and excellent air-conditioning.
Market at Pueblo La Estrella at Cayo Santa María, Cuba
Cubans have used ration books since the early 60s and the trade embargos. The food at the resorts (all owned by the government) is the best one can get on the island. Sadly, it's not that great. Since we're low carbing, we had to overlook the yummy breads, pastas, and baked goods. Unfortunately, there wasn't any lettuce, but I did eat lots of the cucumber and cabbage. The hot food wasn't hot enough and the cold food wasn't cold enough and we both got 'traveler's tummy'.
Somewhat obscene yucca plant at our resort, preparing to bloom
However, the beach was exquisite with powdery, white sand and no seaweed which seems to plague a lot of beaches in the Caribbean.

It rained every day for at least part of the day but we still managed to get to the beach
Turning the heel on the beach
or the pool.
Syncopation sock poolside
The biggest adjustment was no access to the Internet for the week. Fortunately I had downloaded a bunch of ebooks and audiobooks onto my iPhone and iPad so entertained myself that way. We also got lots of sleep including some darned good naps. I had bought an Internet card to use at the resort but there was not access to a network whenever I tried. However, the card did work at the airport so I downloaded all my email and got caught up there before our flight home. The security person I had was very enthusiastic about his job and confiscated my Addi Turbos that were in my Syncopation sock. He wanted to break the tips off but I couldn't deal with that sacrilege so I just pulled the needle out. (sniff!). He also didn't like the 1.5 inch nail file on my nail clippers and offered to break it off if I wanted to keep them. I never use that nail file so I told him to go ahead. I've taken knitting needles on many flights over the past 8 years and the only time I've had them confiscated was leaving Mexico and Cuba. TSA permits them but Cuba doesn't give a rat's behind about TSA regulations. At least in Mexico, they retrieved my suitcase so I could put the knitting needles in there.

We were thrilled that it was so mild upon our return and our windbreakers were adequate for the shuttle from the airport to our car.

Speaking of windbreakers, when we arrived at the resort at the beginning of the trip, I realized I had misplaced my windbreaker somewhere en route. During our time at the airport waiting for our flight home, the officious security guy passed me off to another person to go to the lost and found - back through security. I was then handed off to another official person who was surprised that there was a lost and found. The official at the lost and found listened to my description (thank goodness I speak Spanish) and looked in a big ledger and to my wonderment, my windbreaker was listed with the description, date, and flight. He then went into the back room and emerged a few minutes later with my windbreaker. Yay! And my mittens were still in the pocket - along with some rubber gloves that weren't there before. He had to fill out some paperwork and call a customs person over to fill out a customs form so my jacket could pass customs, I guess. Then I had to sign something and I was free to take my jacket and go back through security to join Skip - who wondered where the heck I was. Of course, I had the same officious security guy who again noted my nail clippers on the xray. He wanted to stop me and I reminded him that he had already broken the nail file off. Then I found Skip in the waiting area. I brandished my jacket and we hugged with joy. The food selection at the airport was not great, particularly for low carbers so we decided to hit a favourite Japanese/Korean restaurant in Toronto on the way home from the airport. Finally! Hot food that was hot! And salad!! It was good to be home.

Being away for a week in early December does make one feel quite behind with respect to preparations for Christmas so I've been trying to get caught up. The tree is up and it and the house are as decorated as they're going to get.
Skip and I have decided to shop for each other after Christmas when the sales are on so aside from stocking stuffers, that took a lot of pressure off me.

I got a bunch of baking done today, much of it with my new cookie press. I also use the press to stuff devilled eggs but today, used it to make spritz cookies for the first time. It took me a bit to get the hang of it but since this batch (pictured) was done, I re-read the recipe and omitted the parchment paper, choosing instead to spritz right on the greased cookie sheets. The cookies stuck to the sheet much better. My subsequent batches had cookies that were spaced much closer together.
I still haven't been able to get a soft enough dough.

I've been crafting a couple of things but will leave that for another post.

On Sunday, Alexa and I are going to the Tafelmusik "Sing-Along Messiah" with our scores and sticky notes to mark what numbers we're doing. We and a couple of thousand other sopranos, altos, tenors and basses will enjoy the soloists and sing the choruses conducted by Herr Handel himself.

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