Cuba 14.2 Marea del Portillo - Part 1 / Getting There Is Half The Fun

An online definition of vacation describes it as “an extended period of leisure and recreation”, so I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing taking a vacation since my whole life now is pretty much an extended period of leisure and recreation anyway.

But now that I have nothing to “get away” from, it makes our vacation coming to an end easier to accept. So there’s that!

As we headed down the highway the snow was falling hard enough to justify the snow plows being called out. “Damn!” I thought to myself. “I might be missing the last good snowfall of the season.”

You see, I like winter so we had planned our trip to hopefully get away from some of the ugly of spring.

But we were on the road and there was no turning back now.

A stopover at my sister’s in Barrie would break the trip up and the following day our stretch limo arrived on time to take us to the airport.

That sounds pretty extravagant, but it’s not. Last year we drove to Toronto the night before and stayed in a motel.

When you add everything up, including the cost of the trip (which was $40 more this year), the room, dinner and drinks and everything all in, our trip was actually $60 less overall this year.

That more than covered the pizza at my sister’s and the champagne in the limo and I didn’t have to fight traffic to and from the airport.
Relaxing in a limo, sipping on a mimosa beats fighting
traffic on the highway. (Stock photo from 2015)

Checking in at the airport was the easiest we’ve ever experienced. We had paid for Sunwing’s VIP check in but there didn’t seem to be any. It didn’t matter though as there was zero waiting time. They have a new completely automated system that doesn’t require any staff except for the intervention when it doesn’t work properly which of course we required. Even so it was fast and easy.

My first thought was there was no line up because we were so early, but we are almost always at the airport before check-in opens and we have always experienced long lines.

Neither was there a lineup at customs. The first custom's clerk who examined our passports and boarding passes referred to Shirley as “Whirley Shirley” and then, after seeing our last name, began to serenade us with a reggae version of “Forever Young”.

She took the time to chat with us about her home which is very near the airport in Kingston, Jamaica before we were moved along when a line started to form behind us.

With time to kill we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at one of the airport restaurants. From our table by the window we witnessed a group of trainees being taught how to make preparations for a Westjet plane that was preparing to leave. A couple of the trainees seemed more interested in texting on their phones than paying attention to the instructor which gave me a little uneasy feeling regarding safety issues.

But we are flying Sunwing today and I would hope each of its ground crew is a little more focused.
Sunwing arrives safely at Manzanillo Airport, 2019

Our waitress was a young, pleasant Filipino girl who took the time to chat with us and tell us a bit about her home in the far east.

The Jamaican customs clerk and our Filipino waitress have both gone a long way to help make what can sometimes be an unpleasant process in travelling, a very enjoyable experience for us.

"Getting there is half the fun," is no
longer exclusive to luxury cruises. 
Cunard was right. “Getting there is half the fun.”

I am always intrigued at the stores at the airport offering to sell us so many items to put into our carry on that would have been confiscated from our carry on as we passed through security. Something else that concerns me is how often, when passing through security, after viewing my carry on through the x-ray machines, a security agent will ask me “Is that a CPAP machine?” When I assure him or her it is - I am permitted to carry on.

If I were a terrorist and it was not a CPAP machine, do the security agents assume I will be honest with them?

When we finally arrived at the boarding gate, most of the waiting area was filled.

Flying to Marea del Portillo in Cuba is a different experience as there is only 1 flight in and out every Wednesday to the single resort in the area.

When flying to most other destinations, the fellow travellers on your plane could be going to any number of resorts and there might only be one or two if any, among them who are staying at the same resort as you.

So when we found a couple of empty seats in the waiting area and began to look around, we knew that everyone here will be staying at the same resort we are going to and we wonder which ones we will become friends with.

We saw a couple of faces we recognized from last year but we couldn’t remember any names at this time.

One face in particular stuck out in the crowd although I knew we had never met. He looked like Santa and my back was up as I pointed him out to Shirley saying “I don’t like that guy as I will have competition for attention this year.” I was just kidding of course and I considered going over to talk to him but it was crowded and there would be time to introduce ourselves later in Cuba because we know he will be staying at our resort.

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