Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 101
January 1, 2000

Last Update 29 Dec 99 1800 et

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1/ REGIONAL NEWS

"DISCOVER DOMINICA'S FLY-DRIVE PROGRAM"

Featuring  the  Eco-Inns  of  Dominica!  Romantic  waterfalls,  fiery 
sunsets,  swim in emerald green pools and up narrow gorges, find your 
own  secluded  beach,  scuba  &  snorkel  with fantastic marine life,  
count  fireflies  under  a  romantic star-covered sky, hiking for all 
ages,  biking,  unspoiled scenery, watersports on a safe and friendly 
island! Our special package is the best value around!!!

       $499 per person for 8-days/7-nights
       $305 per person for 4-days/3-nights
       $245 per person for 3 days/2-nights

  Choose  from over 31 properties islandwide!  A guidebook, a welcome 
island   fruit  basket  and  road map are included and well as a jeep 
with  unlimited  miles  and  accommodations  at  any of the following 
hotels on the island:

Anse-A-Lian Hotel & Dive     Coconut Beach Club
Anchorage Hotel                  Lauro Club Hotel
Castaway Beach Hotel         Papillotte Wilderness Retreat*
Chez Ophelia Apartments     Reigate Hall Hotel
D'Auchamps Cottage            Reigate Waterfront
Evergreen Hotel                   Roxy's Mountain Lodge
Fallsview Guest House        Springfield Plantation Guest House
Floral Gardens                    Sunset Guest House
Herches                             Sutton Place Hotel
Hummingbird Inn                 Symes Zee Villa
Itassi Cottage                     Sunset Bay Club (All-Inclusive)*
Portsmouth Beach Hotel      Picard Beach Cottages*
End of Eden                        Sister Sea Lodges
Exotica*                              Fort Young Hotel
Verandah View Inn               Sutton Inn
Cocoa Cottages

Fly-Drive Dominica
Ms. P.J. Ott
Marketing & Sales, U.S. and Canada

Serious  Inquiries  Require:  approximate  dates of travel, length of 
stay,   departure  city,  name  and  telephone number.  Your Personal 
Dominica  Specialist  will respond immediately to assist you.  We are 
the  Dominica  Specialists  and  are waiting for your e-mail or call!    
Wild  Side  Destinations  and  Fly-Drive Dominica, flydrivepj@aol.com  
or 888-696-4202

JAMAICA EVENTS 2000

A Calendar of Events for the New Millennium

NEW  YORK,  NY,  DECEMBER 1999 – Jamaica will be alive with energy in 
2000,  as music, cultural heritage, and culinary events highlight the 
island’s Calendar of Events 2000.

Below  is a list of exciting events that will be happening in Jamaica 
for  the new millennium. If you are planning a vacation to Jamaica in 
2000,   a   visit   to   the   Jamaica  Tourist  Board’s  website  at 
www.jamaicatravel.com  is  a  must!  More  information  on the listed 
events,  as  well as information on special packages, accommodations, 
entertainment,  the  island’s  history,  people  and  heritage can be 
found  on the website. The JTB’s website now features the new "J-Mail 
Dispatch,"  which  automatically  updates  you  via  e-mail about new 
events and happenings in Jamaica.

The  Insider’s Jamaica, the innovative program highlighting Jamaica’s 
intimate   hotels,   resorts   villas   and   inns,  restaurants  and 
attractions,  is  gaining  more  and more popularity and has recently 
announced  the addition of ten more properties. The Insider’s package 
(five  night minimum stay) includes round-trip air transportation and 
hotel  transfers,  accommodations,  a  Jamaican House Party, priority 
access   to  a  Meet-the-People  experience,  25%  off  admission  to 
participating  attractions;  15% discounts at restaurants; and a one-
class upgrade at select car rental companies. 

For  more  information  on Jamaica, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board 
at  1-800-JAMAICA,  or  visit  the Jamaica Tourist Board’s website at 
www.jamaicatravel.com.


DATE
             EVENT & DESCRIPTION
             LOCATION
             CONTACT
             
            January 6
             Accompong Maroon Festival

             An  annual  celebration  by  the  Accompong  Maroons  of 
Western  Jamaica,  with  traditional  dancing, singing, maroon feasts 
and  ceremonies,  blowing  of  the  Abeng  and  playing of the maroon 
drums. This festival dates back to the 19th century.
             Accompong, St. Elizabeth
             Kenneth Watson / Ava Simpson, (876) 952-4564
             
            January 20-23
             Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival

             This  Jazz and Blues Festival, is celebrating its fourth 
year, featuring prominent local and international Jazz artists.
             James Bond Beach 
             Brigette Zadie, 888-LOVEBIRD
             
            February 1-April 30
             LTM National Pantomine

             The  LTM  Pantomine  is  an annual Jamaican folk musical 
with  original songs and dances. Participants are dressed in brightly 
colored costumes. There is amusing commentary on current affairs.
             Little Theater, Kingston
             The Little Theater, (876) 926-6129
             
            February 5-9
             "Celebrating Bob Marley"

             A week of activities celebrating the life of Bob Marley. 
Activities  will  include  a concert to highlight Bob Marley Music, a 
film  festival and more. There will be Seminars for students of music 
as well as players of drums, guitar and wind instruments.
             All Island
             Jamaica Tourist Board, (876) 929-9200
             
            February 6-13
             Negril Fat Tyre Festival

             The week-long celebration consists of downhill and cross 
country  mountain  bike  racing,  a  night ride to a giant cave where 
there  will  be  a  "cave  rage",  a  scavenger hunt by bicycle and a 
Jamaican  style  street  party. A celebration with live entertainment 
will wrap up the week’s activities. 
             Good Hope, Negril Hills
             Rusty’s X-cellent Adventures
             
            February 8
             Jamaica International Marathon

              The   staging   of  this  marathon  offers  athletes  a 
challenging  run  from  the  National  Stadium  circling the Kingston 
Harbour  to  historic  Port  Royal  ending  adjacent  to the renowned 
Rockfort Mineral Spa.
             National Stadium to Port Royal
             JAAA, Mr. Teddy McCook, (876) 927-5331
             
            February 12
             Sugar Cane Ball

             Over  21 years old, with different themes for each year, 
the  event  is  a  cocktail  party followed by a grand ball in aid of 
Hanover  charities.  It  is  a formal event in very elegant style and 
setting.
             Round Hill Hotel, Montego Bay
             Katrin Schafelner, (876) 956-7050
             
            March
             The Jamaica Music Awards

             An  annual Jamaica Music Industry Awards (JAMI) function 
with  presentations  in  various  categories  including Reggae, Folk, 
Gospel, Jazz and Classical. This will be their 10th anniversary.
             Pulse Investments Ltd., Trafalger Rd., New Kingston
             Pulse Investments Ltd., (876) 968-1089
             
            March 24, 25 & 28
             Jamaica Orchid Society

            43rd Annual Spring Show & Celebration

             An  American  Orchid  Society sanctioned show with three 
days  of  celebrations  commencing  with  a  cocktail  reception. The 
flower  show for the two final days provides a feast of color and co-
ordination.
             Assembly Hall, University of West Indies, Kingston
             Mr. Claude Hamilton, (876) 927-6713
             
            March/April
             Spring Break 2000

             An  annual  program  for students vacationing in Jamaica 
where  selected  hotels,  attractions, restaurants and nightclubs put 
on  reggae  concerts  with  live  bands.  There  is  beach volleyball 
competitions along with other forms of entertainment. 
             Negril and Montego Bay
             Jamaica Tourist Board, (876) 929-9200
             
            April 23-30
             Carnival in Jamaica

              Celebrating  its  11th  anniversary  with  flamboyantly 
costumed  groups  parading  in the streets of Ocho Rios, Kingston and 
Montego  Bay.  There  are  Soca  parties, fetes with reggae & calypso 
bands,  a  kiddies  parade and reggae & calypso tents. Top performers 
come from Jamaica, Trinidad and other Caribbean Islands.
             Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay
             Tony Cohen, (876) 923-9389
             
            April 23, 24
             Drax Hall Kite Festival

             Annual  festival showcasing colorful kite design by kite 
enthusiasts   locally  and  internationally.  Also  incredible  stunt 
flying  shows  and  kite  flying shows from another world. There will 
also  be  pony  rides,  amusements  and  clowns  for children. Also a 
national competition for a grand cash prize.
             Drax Hall, Ocho Rios
             John Gosse, (876) 974-8258
             
            April 24
             Trelawny Yam Festival

             The  day’s  festivities  begin  with a street parade and 
gala   opening   ceremony.   Highlights   will  include  Yam  Farmers 
Competition,  Culinary  Competition,  Best  Dressed  Donkey  and Goat 
Competitions,   products   give-a-ways   every   15   minutes,   live 
entertainment.  There will also be pre-event activities such as a 10K 
Run, and a Yam Symposium.
             Albert Town High School, Trelway
             Hough Dixon, (876) 610-0818
             
            April 30
             Treasure Beach Off Road Triathlon

             This  off-road  Triathlon is in its Fourth year. It will 
include  a  400  meter swim, 18 kilometer mountain bike ride and four 
kilometer run.
             Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth
             Jakes, (876) 965-0552
             
            May
             Miss Universe
             Kingston
             Pulse Investments Ltd., (876) 960-1320
             
            May
             Japex "00"

             Annual Product Exchange for persons in the travel trade, 
showcasing Jamaica’s travel product.
             Ocho Rios
              Jamaica  Hotel  & Tourist Association, Ms. Janet Smith, 
(800) 233-4582
             
            June 14-21
             Ocho Rios Jazz Festival

             This  festival  includes  international  performers from 
Europe,  Japan,  the  United States along with renowned Jamaican jazz 
artists.  There  will  be  jazz  concerts  in Ocho Rios, Kingston and 
Montego  Bay.  Jazz days at Carib Inn Beach. Daily jazz lunches, jazz 
teas, jazz feasts on the river, jazz barbeques and youth jazz days.
             Renaissance Jamaica Grande/Almond Tree, Ocho Rios
             Jazz Hotline, (876) 927-3544

            Jamaica Tourist Office worldwide, (800) 233-4582
             
            June
             Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf

              Exciting  playoff  between  two  professional  golfers. 
Delayed broadcast on ESPN
             Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay
             Jamaica Tourist Board offices worldwide, (800) 233-4582
             
            July 1-3
             Family Festival

              There   will   be   cultural   presentations,  sporting 
activities,  a  family  festival  competition,  a family beach party. 
Jamaican  pen-pal  sign  up,  rafting, country cookout and lots more. 
Three days of fun for more family.
             Montego Bay
             Jamaica Tourist Board, (876) 929-9200
             
            July 28- August 27
             National dance Theatre Company’s Seasons of Dance

              Jamaica's  internationally  celebrated  dance  company. 
Creative  dancing  exploring  traditional and modern dance forms. The 
season will also feature the NDTC singers.
             Little Theatre, Kingston
             (876) 936-6129 
             
            July 28-August 31
             Jamaican Spice Food Festival

             A  celebration  of the best of Jamaica's cuisine through 
the  vibrancy  of  Jamaica  in  art, craft music and literature. Book 
signing  by internationally renown Jamaican Culinary writers. Cooking 
demonstrations and entertainment galore.
             UDC Park, Ocho Rios
             Jamaica Tourist Board, (876) 929-9200
             
            August
             Reggae Sumfest

             Annual  music festival held in Montego Bay for the sixth 
consecutive   year.  This  five-day  event  features  top  local  and 
international reggae artists.
             Catherine Hall, Montego Bay
             Summerfest Office,

            (876) 940-5446

             
            August 6 
             Jamaica Independence Day Parade

              Gala   parade   of   costumed   and  uniformed  groups. 
Traditional  Jonkanoo  dancers  as well as modem dancers showcasing a 
cross section of Jamaican culture.
             Kings House, Kingston
             Jamaican Cultural Development commission (JCDC), 

            (876) 926-5726
             
            September
             Miss Jamaica World Beauty Pageant/grand coronation

             Crowning pageant to decide who will represent Jamaica in 
the Miss World contest.
             Le Meridian Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston
             Mr. Haughton-James, Spartan Health Club,

            (876) 927-7575
             
            October 9-14
             Terra Nova’s Heritage Food Festival

              A   full  week  of  activities  highlighting  Jamaica's 
culinary  heritage.  Authentic  dishes are complemented by music from 
the specific regions of the world.
             Terra Nova Hotel
             (876) 926-2211
             
            October 9-17
             All that Heritage and Jazz Festival

             This reunion brings about the bonding of individuals who 
have  enjoyed and grown up with a wide range of music over the years. 
Activities  throughout  the  week  include live entertainment, a boat 
ride  and  return  to  Morant Bay the original roots of the Merritone 
Sound, which will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary in the year 2000.
             Montego Bay
             Ms. Marlene Stephenson,

            (876) 979-2498
             
            October 19
             Peter Tosh Birthday Celebration

             Tribute  in concert, featuring reggae musicians. A slide 
show and display of photographs will be a part of the celebration.
             Belmont, Westmoreland
             Mr. Worrel King,

            (876) 957-4605
             
            October 
             Port Antonio Blue Marlin Tournament

             One  of  the  oldest and most prestigious sports fishing 
tournaments  in  the  Caribbean.  Attracts  anglers from all over the 
world.
             Port Antonio Marina
             Mr. Joe Keiffer, (876) 923-8724
             
            October 
             28th Jamaica Air Carriers Invitational Golf Tournament

             This  tournament will be played at three of the island’s 
championship  golf  courses – Wyndham Rose Hall, Half Moon and Tryall 
Golf  Courses.  Most  participants  work  with  airlines that provide 
service to Jamaica.
             Montego Bay
             Jamaica Tourist Board officers worldwide,

            (800) 233-4582
             
            November 26- 28
             Caribbean Heritage Fest 2000

             This  festival will showcase the best of Caribbean food, 
traditional  entertainment  and  folklore. At least eight (8) islands 
will participate.
             Rio Cobre Park, Portmore, St. Catherine
             Ms. Nicole Braham, Social Development Commission,

            (876) 754-7609
             
            November 25
             Holland Bamboo Run

             Part  of  the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Celebrations, the 
event  features  a  10  km run through the scenic Holland Bamboo main 
road and ending in Santa Cruz.
             St. Elizabeth
             George Waton

            (876) 906-5455
             
            December 
             Devon House Christmas Craft Fair

             Colorful  displays  of  Jamaican art, craft and culinary 
delights.
             Devon House, Kingston
             (876) 929- 7029
             
            December 
             The LTM Pantomime

             Gala  opening  at  the  Ward Theatre, Kingston. Jamaican 
folk  musical,  a  different  play with original song and dances each 
year.
             Ward Theatre, Kingston
             (876) 926 - 6129

2/ JOURNEYS FOR JANUARY 2000

ANTIGUA: SUNSAIL BY ANN L. PHELAN

Trip 11/99

I  spent  5 days at Sunsail this past November. I returned to Antigua 
to  bring  my  daughter  to  see her Dad as well as to seek out a new 
windsurf location. Sunsail was more than I expected.

The  positives  include it's fabulous location. Set in upscale Hodges 
Bay,  Sunsail  is  close to the airport, dining and shopping. The man 
made  beach  is  lovely. The pool is huge. Their is little in the way 
of  grounds  as  it  is  right  on a busy street but speed bumps keep 
traffic to a slow pace.

The  water  sports dept. is great. Staff and gear are plentiful. Most 
of  the guests are Brits with much nautical experience. The staff are 
very  patient  and  helpful. I found all the gear and equipment to be 
top  notch  aside  from the  big clunky windsurf boards. I would have 
preferred  better  boards. The sails were plentiful with an 8.0 meter 
being the biggest. They use partial carbon booms and masts. 

Sailing  rigs  are  great.  Lasers, Topaz's and Beneteaus flew around 
the  bay.  There are rescue boats all about to help those in trouble. 
Each day some sort of race was ongoing. It was a fun setting.

Food  was  good  to  mediocre.  There  are  mostly  buffets with good 
choices  including  local fruit and fare. The waitstaff and bar staff 
were most helpful. The dining room was set right on the water.

On  the  negative  side,  the  public  areas and rooms need upgrades. 
Things  are  pretty  worn and tired. If booking a room ask your agent 
to  upgrade  you to a one bedroom suite near the ocean. The ones near 
the kids clubs are pretty claustrophobic looking.

Speaking  of  Kids  Club, it was quite popular. From the looks of it, 
the  staff  are very nice and the kids are well cared for. There were 
MANY babies about.

Enjoy   a  lovely  Caribbean  setting  while  learning  to  sail  and 
windsurf. Go to Sunsail. 

BARBADOS: CLUB ROCKLEY BY BILL MCADOO

Club  Rockley  will  rock  you the wrong way -- NOT RECOMMENDED. Club 
Rockley  Barbados is not the bargain that it first appears to be. The 
rooms  are  mildewed  and  soggy,  with  the constant smell of mildew 
seeping  into  all  clothing  and bedding. It is impossible to adjust 
the  air-conditioning -- you either freeze or boil -- because of poor 
design  and/or  malfunction  (by  the way all of our neighbors in the 
adjoining units complained of these same problems).

Room  furnishings  are  dated,  unattractive  and  substandard  ( the 
mattresses  and  bedsprings  died  ages  ago!),  and  it  was  nearly 
impossible  to  operated  the water faucets for the bathroom sink and 
shower because of faulty design problems.

The  cleaning staff were efficient and courteous, but even they could 
not  overcome the problems of poor facilities, poor maintenance and a 
management which is apparently unresponsive to complaints.

Certain   members   of   the  front  desk  staff  were  discourteous, 
insensitive,   disrespectful,   and  apparently  even  intolerant  of 
diverse  groups  of  people.  There  seems  to be a residual colonial 
mentality  in  this  regard. The attitude of the supervisors was also 
suspect.  While  they were apologetic, they seemed more interested in 
covering  each  others rear ends than really addressing the downright 
hostile attitudes of some of their staff.

The  food  leaves  much  to  be  desired.  While the presentation was 
pleasing  to the eye, the food had a bland sameness -- and did little 
for  the discerning palate. For those of us who are health conscious, 
there  was  no  refuge  from  the  disgusting,  choking, ever present 
clouds  of  cigarette  smoke  which  wafted indiscriminately over our 
breakfast,  lunch  and  dinner  -- no safe haven for non-smokers! The 
evening  entertainment  was  spotty  at  best  and  (perhaps with the 
exception  of  one  evening  which  featured  an exciting group), the 
week's  entertainment  could  only  be  described  as unappealing and 
amateurish at best and downright decrepit at worst.

The  beach  --  five miles away, requiring transportation provided by 
the  hotel  every  half  hour -- was fine, but who can "live by beach 
alone!"  Club  Rockley  will  rock you the wrong way. Stay away or be 
prepared for a third rate vacation! 

CUBA: CAYO COCO MELIA BY BRAD GREAVES

Trip 12/99

Hurricane  Lenny  not  only  ran over a few Caribbean islands, but it 
caused  us  a  quick  change of travel plans. We have traveled to and 
stayed   on   several  islands  (St  Martin  3x,  St.  Barts,  Aruba, 
Guadeloupe  and  Anguilla)  over  the last few years and had booked a 
return  trip  to St. Martin (our second favorite after St. Barts) for 
Dec.  4  to  11/99.  Karen's  birthday  is  Dec. 1 and we always plan 
something  warm  around that time. Northwestern Ontario can be a mite 
chilly  at  that  time  of  year. Our vacation was keenly anticipated 
until  Hurricane  Lenny  changed  the  land scape on St. Martin. From 
what  we  gathered the French side was not hit too hard but the Dutch 
side  required  a little work to cleanup and our travel agent advised 
us  that  even  though we were booked on the French side (St. Tropez) 
our  charter  was  not going. With a forced change of plan we decided 
to  try something different. We did not have much time to think about 
a  new  island  so  we decided to try Cuba. We had heard good and bad 
about  the  island  and  thought  "what  the heck" why not try it. We 
chose  Cayo  Coco  for  no  other reason than it was available on one 
week's  notice  and  our  travel  agent had been there and thought we 
would  enjoy  it.  Our  hotel  selection  was Melia, a brand new full 
service  all  inclusive resort. To sum things up succinctly, the food 
was  great,  the  facility  was great and the people were great. As a 
matter of fact great may be a weak word to describe our impression. 

We  had  to change flight plans and leave Thunder Bay (a 3 hour drive 
from  home) earlier than expected on the 3rd but did not have to over 
night  in  Toronto since we had an afternoon flight to Cuba. This was 
nice  going  south  but  as  I'll mention later not so nice returning 
north.  We  flew  on  Skyservice  and having traveled with Royal, Air 
Transat,  Canada  3000  and  Air  Canada  Charters, Sky service ranks 
right  up  there as a good charter service. The only complaint, as is 
common  with  any  charter,  is  the  sardine-can  seating.  When the 
traveler  in  front  puts  back his seat to gain a comfort advantage, 
you  can  neither  use or tray nor read a book unless you do the same 
or  you  are  5'2"  and  115  lbs. The attendants were superb and the 
charter  left  on time and arrived on time. The in-flight meal was... 
well  an in-flight meal. We stopped in Santiago de Cuba to unload and 
reload  passengers  and  had  about one hour in the airport while the 
aircraft was serviced. 

The  flight  continued to Ceigo de Avila where we cleared customs. My 
personal  advice,  be  sure  to  get in a line for customs with other 
Canadians.  Even  though our flight originated in Toronto, there were 
many  non-Canadians  on  board.  Cuba  loves Canadians but I'm not so 
sure  about  others.  They had several customs booths and fast moving 
lines.  In  our  line, we were second behind some folks from Portugal 
and  after  a  great  animated show by the combatants (the Portuguese 
and  Cubans) we were the last to clear through. Once through, we were 
quickly  ushered  onto  a bus and headed into the darkness enroute to 
Caya  Coco  (90  min). Our Sunquest rep rode the bus with us and gave 
us  a  quick  briefing  about  checking  into  the  hotel  and eating 
expediently  when  we  arrived because the restaurant would stay open 
for  us  but  it  was very late for the staff (11:00). Check in was a 
fast  and courteous as I've ever seen, our bags were delivered to our 
room  and  we  ate  a nice cold meat and cheese platter with buns and 
wine for supper. 

The  first  morning  we  woke to a howling wind and wandered around a 
bit  before  breakfast  to  orient our selves. Breakfast was a buffet 
and  was  actually  very  nice.  Many of my "in the know" friends had 
told  us  to avoid the Cuban buffets at all cost, so we approached it 
cautiously  and  were  indeed  pleasantly surprised. The wind was too 
strong  to  stay on the beach so we hunkered down pool side and began 
to  rotate  for  an  even tan. Our goal on this vacation was to relax 
and  relax we did. The beach at Melia was very nice and when the tide 
was  out  we  could  walk  several kilometers on beautiful sand. Next 
door  to  Melia  was  the  Sol  Club and then there was a small coral 
outcropping   which   was   difficult   to  walk  over.  There  is  a 
construction  site  near  this out cropping and we could walk through 
the  site  (a  new "cash" restaurant being built) and then could walk 
another  3 kilometers to TRYP on the same shoreline. This walk nicely 
burnt  off  the  extra  calories acquired sitting by the pool keeping 
Alexander our pool waiter slim. 

Melia  has  the  buffet  for breakfast, lunch and supper as well as a 
pool  side snack bar which also served a hot lunch from 10 to 5 and a 
beach  side  restaurant  which severed a nice salad bar and a la cart 
lunch  menu.  Two  theme  dinning  rooms (Italian and Fish (seafood)) 
were  also  available  for  supper. These restaurants were excellent. 
Reservations  had  to  be  made for the dining rooms with seatings at 
6:30  or  8:30 however they were flexible for 7:00 with us. Even when 
we  were  late to make reservations one day (time just gets away from 
you  when  you don't wear a watch) the fellow at the reservation desk 
was  more  than  accommodating.  He made two phone calls, jabbered in 
Spanish  quite animatedly, and told me that he "just told them it was 
for  his  friends" and we had our reservation. Even with other coming 
in,  we  were  never rushed to leave and a three hour supper with new 
friends  from  Montreal  was  not an inconvenience to our superb wait 
staff. 

The  personal  at  Melia  were without doubt the friendliest and most 
helpful  we've  ever  encountered in the Caribbean. My own feeling is 
that  if  we  Canadians  treated our tourists like this we would have 
one  heck  of  a  tourist industry. We were made to feel very welcome 
and  encouraged  (subtly) to return. The people working at the resort 
spoke  English  (as well as some French and German for the most part) 
and  were  very  well  trained  and educated. They appeared to really 
like  their  jobs.  The  winds  lasted two days and the evenings were 
cold  those  days.  Karen  needed  to wear her fleece to and from the 
restaurants only those two days. 

The  rest  of  the  week  was  nice weather wise with just one cloudy 
afternoon  which  gave us a forced break from the sun. Even though we 
didn't want it, we needed it. 

At  Melia,  Canadians  were  not  the majority even if we counted the 
Quebecers.  There  were  many  Germans  and  some  Dutch, Portuguese, 
Spanish,  French  and  Brits. There were also some folks I think were 
from  Greece  although I can't fathom why they would go to Cuba for a 
sun  tan.  The  average  age  at Melia appeared to be early 50's late 
40's,-  a  little  older  than  next  door  at Sol Club. Being in our 
really  early  40's we weren't out of place. Just a few kids - rarely 
seen because of the numerous activities available for them. 

The  return  home, as always came too quickly. We had to check out by 
4:00  pm  so we had the whole day in the sun. The bus did not come to 
pick  us  up  until  7:00.  A  few extra hours in the lobby bar and a 
quick  supper took care of those three hours. Then came the 90 minute 
bus  ride  to  the  airport. On the way to the airport our driver (we 
were  on  a  small  12 passenger bus) detoured though Moron (the town 
were  our  hotel  staff  lived)  and we picked up an English speaking 
Cuban  who  gave  us  a  great commentary of the local highlights and 
Cuban  life. I don't know who he was (a friend of the driver's maybe) 
but  it  was  an  unexpected  treat.  After check in we waited in the 
airport  for the flight. We left Cuba around 10:30, a little ahead of 
schedule,  and  arrived  in  Toronto  just around 2:00 am (by then we 
didn't  care  what  time  it was). Sleep on an aircraft is impossible 
for  me so I read the end of my 6th book when the seat in front of me 
wasn't  back.  Actually  the guy in that seat was good enough to keep 
his  seat  upright  after I asked him. Our trip was not over since we 
had  a 8:20 am flight to Thunder Bay looming in our future so we made 
a  decision to grab a little sleep at a hotel and spent 4 or so hours 
at  the Travel lodge. This part of our trip I don't remember much but 
it  had  a bed and pillow so we were happy. All in all we will return 
to  Cuba.  The price was less than we'd paid before for other islands 
and  the  value  for our dollar was extremely high. The trip was more 
than  we  expected and we were treated very well. The hours of travel 
would  be  great  for  someone in Toronto, but for us northerners, it 
left  a little to be desired. Cayo Coco is still quaint but there are 
new  hotels  being  built  as  I write. We were told that in 10 years 
this area will be like Veradero (resort upon resort). What a shame. 

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