So getting my escape-to-Medellin, Columbia ticket – where they have free wi-fi-everywhere – rivaled a Charlie Chaplin movie. It took two days to find a site to book the ticket. The reservation was confirmed, but for some reason they couldn’t process the credit card details. Damn good thing, too, as I had managed to book another ticket. I didn’t confirm the first one within 24-hours so it was cancelled.
The confirmation was sent to my email address to I had to go to the hotel to have it printed. Fine. The address was the longest I have ever seen and I made a mistake so I had to get the woman who worked there to type it in for me.
With my confirmed ticket in my hot-little hand I felt safer and more secure. But this was Cuba and one can never take anything for granted.
For example, when I arrived on Cubana de Aviacion (CDA) – after a 24-hour delay in Madird -neither of my bags showed up on the conveyor belt. There was a group of about 25 people all yelling and pushing and shoving at some poor official cowering behind a glass wall who was trying to sort out claims. I wonder if he got danger pay as the Latinos weren’t pulling any punches.
A European woman who spoke Spanish told me that as the flight had doubled they had arranged another plane that went via Caracas. As it was a longer flight, the CDA people had convinced a number of passengers – she and her partner included – to go that route as it was “safer.” The bags didn’t make the connecting flight so they were in Venezuela.
Late the next morning the casa particular where I was staying received a call saying my bags were at the airport. They were filthy and covered in some sort of white powder. But at least they were in Havana. It took three hours and a taxi fare of $30 to retrieve them.
The next task was finding an Air B&B type of accommodation in Medellin. After waiting an hour – there are only four computers available and one has to wait – I gave up as it was so slow. I Decided to just find a hotel near the airport for the first night and organize something in the city center via wi-fi.
Cuba is a delightful country, which oozes old world charm. In 1978 I was there on a holiday – on my Canadian passport – and so much has stayed the same. The villas, however, are in even more need of repair, the old cars are still running, being stuck together with snare wire and a bit of chewing gum.
Finding the perfect beach in your area is the key. If you’re inclined to think that’s it’s just like any other seaside escape, you’re greatly mistaken; this place has a charm uniquely its own. The local vibe is most certainly not similar to other beach towns in the country, and if you intend to bring your entire family with you for a holiday, you will find that it has more delightful provisions to ensure convenience for you and your company. Check out the advantage you can get from having a beach vacation.
- You can have a choice of room accommodation. There is an impressive selection of villas, apartments, and rental homes to suit all budgets. All these boast of breathtaking views of the landscape and seascape.
- You can enjoy the amenities provided. There are various amenities that enhance the natural charm of the location. In fact, many of the holiday rental provisions have their own tropical swimming pools if you don’t feel like heading to the beach, as well as tennis courts.
- You can eat fresh seafood. Local flavours are delightful. If you wish to try the freshest seafood, many of the locally owned dining establishments here specialise in dishes that highlight the catches of the day.
- You can shop at local shops. Colourful shops are aplenty and they dominate chain retail stores. You can easily find delightful buys in various spots throughout the area. If you wish to include retail therapy to your itinerary, for sure, you will not be disappointed with the wares produced by local entrepreneurs.
- You can choose from a variety of water activities. There’s no shortage of activities here-surfing, hiking, scuba diving, biking, kayaking, golf, motocross, skydiving and so much more. It’s important to mention as well that there are artsy offerings in town and you can check local artists at work or displaying their creations.
Not long after, Tetiaroa, which was once the retreat spot for Tahitian royalty, became the private getaway and sanctuary for the Hollywood actor, known for his eccentricity and monk-like attitude. He built a simple eco-friendly village, which consists of palm-thatched shacks. The village was carefully built so it does not take away from the beauty and innocence of the atoll. Brando renamed the island “The Brando” and entertained various guests, mostly archaeologists and ecologists.
10 years after Brando’s passed away, a Tahitian hotel chain decided to open up Tetiaroa to the world. Guests from around the world can now enjoy the beauty and solitude, which Brando discovered and cherished for many decades. These days, visitors are housed in 32 villas managed by exclusive resort also called “The Brando”. The villas are strategically located near the shore of the beaches around the Onetahi islet.
The resort is certainly more polished than Brando’s village, but it is sustainable in many ways. The breeze coming from the ocean remains as the cooling agent for guests sleeping in their “shacks”. Solar power and coconut oil are the main sources for energy. The villas are made of local timber and are equipped with indoor-outdoor bathrooms, small pools and terraces with a view.
“The Brando” is a versatile spot, in which you can decide to do as little as you like. You can spend the entire day lounging on the beach and enjoy the raw beauty of French Polynesia. But there are also facilities that pull you out of boredom if it arrives. Instead of motorized vehicles like jet skis and yachts, the resort offers kayaks, paddle boards, Polynesian canoes and snorkeling equipment. Since the whole atoll is surrounded by protected coral reefs, the snorkeling experience here promises to be nothing short of spectacular.
Although Tetiaroa exudes a castaway feel, staying here is not exactly like living at a bare minimum. There are two gourmet restaurants and two hotel bars that will keep you full and entertained every night. The atoll also maintains an organic fruit and vegetable garden, a boutique, a pearl shop and a luxurious over water spa. If you want to sweat it out, you may also use the resort’s tennis courts or ride bicycles through the woods. And if you just want to rest your tired body, avail of the daily spa treatments, which are included in the all-inclusive package you handsomely paid for.