By the time you read this, God willing, I’ll be sipping drinks by the pool - soaking up the warm sun, sights, sounds and smells of vacation land.
My sister and I will be on our annual trek to Cuba. In addition to the enormous amount of hefty luggage we’ll be slugging, we will be sure to take our positive attitudes with us.
We are not the Debbie Downers of vacationing.
This year will mark the eighth consecutive year we are staying at the same resort. I understand those who like to travel and see different places and do different things. Our reasons for returning to the same location are many. There is a lot of history here for us and the exhilarating experiences we’ve had; the friends and memories we’ve made, keep us coming back.
Food in Cuba is definitely different. Your innards may protest at the change in diet, so best to pack any proactive/reactive medicine you might need. These are hard to come by once you’re in the country.
Us? We love the food. WHAT? I know Cuban food has gotten a bum rap over the years. I have to admit when we first started going to Cuba, the food was not anything to write home about. As a matter of fact, we’ve both had our fair share of Montezuma's revenge (yes I know, I'm going to Cuba, not Mexico...but you get the idea) while on vacation in paradise.
It is hard to criticize what you’re eating when you’re enjoying it amidst sand and surf. Having the ocean and palm trees as a backdrop sure is a distraction in the best possible way. Half the time, I don’t even know what I’m eating, but I’m lovin’ it!
Yes - the buffet may have the same old, same old, day after day. Doesn’t that compare with buffets in our own country? Buffets allow you to pick and choose what you’d like to indulge in.
I’m thinking there are many Guelphites who could go to a local buffet they frequent and blindfolded know where their favourite foods are. A buffet by definition is a meal where people serve themselves different types of food. Consistency is a good part of a buffet. Buffets also give one a great advantage spot to observe the comings and going of others. It’s fun to guess at what the larger than life guy with the sun bleached hair and sun burnt face is going to put on his plate. Oh look . . . he’s going for the healthy french fries. Bet he can’t eat just one — plateful that is.
Then there are the specialty restaurants where we are treated to excellent service, stimulating ambiance, perhaps some invigorating live music, and oh ‘ya, food. Cuba’s spin on French, Italian, Mexican, pick a theme food is pretty darn creative. What we may think of as French cuisine would probably surprise them just as much as what they serve surprises us. Nevertheless, when we’re open to new experiences, we’re able to enjoy the fare surrounded by the beauty all around us. This is Distracted Dining at it’s best.
As a Canadian, it’s sad to acknowledge I am sometimes embarrassed by the behaviour of my fellow country folk when visiting Cuba. How enjoyable can it be to spend the majority of your time complaining while on vacation? Food is too hold; too cold; bland; spicy, etc. These are the people we avoid at all costs. There are not enough distractions in the world to change negativity.
When LJ and I travel to Cuba, we are like little kids — too excited to sleep, can’t wait to see everyone, do everything and bask in life. A positive attitude can distract one into believing the food is excellent — all of the time. While this might not be reality, we have enjoyed many a wonderful meal in Cuba. Fresh lobster three times a week — how can ‘ya go wrong?.
So . . . what of the naysayers?
Those who can think of nothing good to say about food in Cuba, and sometimes nothing good about Cuba at all. Shame on you. First of all, you probably got a ridiculously good deal to get there in the first place. How soon we forget. While Cuba is not a third world country, we have to accept it is not Canada, UK, Britain or Italy. The world is a varied place and my advice is to adjust, not demand. Lighten up. Let yourself be totally distracted by the beauty of the place. Feel the sun warm your body and soul. Indulge in the local fare and enjoy.
Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at www.nancyrevie.com . Her column appears every other week.