Standing at the kitchen sink, washing the dinner dishes, listening to my kids scream and fight with each other, I wish I was in Cuba. I long for the buffet meals with nothing to clean up, the lazy walks around the pool and down to the beach, the afternoon naps in the shade of a palm tree.
Up to my elbows in dish soap suds and dirty pots and pans, I let my mind drift to our recent family vacation in Varadero, Cuba.
As much as I would like to get away from these dishes and my screaming kids (not to mention all the projects piling up at work), my daydreaming leads me to a memory of that recent trip to sunny Cuba:
I’m sitting on a lounge chair by the pool, notebook and pen in hand, recording the disaster that was our family’s first few days in Cuba. I’m trying to make sense of what we have been through, why we all want to go home so much. Writing is the only way I know how to do that.
And this is what I wrote:
So far, Cuba has been a bust.
Day 1: Incredibly cranky kids. Very tired parents. We were expecting this because we chose to travel at night. However, arrival at a nice resort was supposed to be the saving grace. It was. Briefly. It momentarily made everyone happy. Then we got into our room, and it was awful. This was too much for the kids (and us) to take. It sent the kids into a tailspin.
For the traveling part, Little Brother was unimpressed with the plane (except initially). Once exhaustion and hunger set in, all he wanted was home. And so it began. He constantly asks when we are going home.
Big Sister, a more seasoned traveler, enjoyed the plane ride. She discovered the music shortly after the headsets were distributed and was more than happy to relax and listen to songs (especially since it was under her control).
I would definitely be more prepared with food next time. Although I’m not sure what more I could do. I had snacks and treats, but nothing worked for my tired kiddos.
The first day here, we missed breakfast because we slept late. The “24 hr” snack bar didn’t open until 11:30 am—a full hour and a half after breakfast finished—and then it only served 1/2 hamburgers and the most disgusting 1/2 hot dogs I have ever seen. Of course the kids wouldn’t eat either offering. Eventually, because they were starving, they ate some of their hamburger.
Overtired, hungry kids and cranky parents—not a good combination. I was beyond upset that I didn’t heed my own warnings of taking my kids anywhere that they weren’t familiar with.
To top it all off, as was the case last time we came to Cuba, the moment I stepped off the plane I felt a profound sense of sadness.
Bless my husband’s soul, he held us together those first two days. After day two, we moved to a better room and things started to look up. Little Brother was playing with his new goggles and decided he didn’t want to wear them, so he said, “I don’t want my giggles.” That brought back the laughter to our family.
Day 2 was much the same as Day 1 except we made it to breakfast before they closed the buffet.
Day 3 we spent on the beach, jumping waves, building sandcastles and napping. After some good sleep, we all felt better able to handle the rest of our week, which, thankfully comes to an end in about three days.
Each day, Big Sister tells me she misses her friends and school, but mostly she misses her BFF. Little Brother keeps trying to call Poppy from the hotel room phone. And every time we say we’re going to dinner, the kids ask if we’re going to our house to eat. So much for my fantasy of my kids eating whatever they want, whenever they want from the buffet or the snack bar. They both hate it. They both hate Cuba. And I honestly can’t blame them. I likely won’t take my kids on a tropical vacation again until they are teenagers, nor will I come back to Cuba, with or without kids.
Stay tuned for the rest of my trip.