Beach Bums for a Night, in Cayo Guillermo, Cuba

The road has been built out into the ocean to allow access to a variety of cays and islands which make up the Jardines De los Reyes (Garden of Kings). Certainly the beach is magnificent. Powder white sand, translucent turquoise waters over shallow banks of sand. Kind of stuff one dreams of – at least I (Peta) do… ever since we were here last year and experienced the pristine beach near Vinales.

This beach has a few all inclusive resort type hotels. You can hardly see them from the beach. The hotel where the trabajadores bus has dropped us off has a lovely wooden pier jutting out into the sea with various decks attached, creating open air rooms over the sea. Nice.  
The crystal clear, turquoise waters are shallow and we go for long walks out to sea, with the deepest, calmest waters no higher than our thighs. We alternate between being on the sand in the shade and being in the water walking and swimming. It’s heaven.
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Who wants to go back 1.5 hours by bus to Moron and come back the next day? Neither of us! We decide to spend the night on the beach…
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What could be better than going to sleep right where we are on our own beach and waking up here?
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Cuba has an extremely low crime rate, so there is nothing to be concerned about from a safety point of view. I have my swimsuit, my dress and 2 large scarves, a flashlight, water and sunblock. Ben has a pair of pants, a shirt and his swimsuit and bottles of water. We are set.
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The last “trabajadores” buses leave at sun down;  we start our beach adventure.
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The moon starts out a huge bright ORANGE ball, sitting just on top of the ocean in front of us. Quite remarkably and amazingly beautiful! It looks like the sun setting, but in fact is the full moon rising.
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As the night descends upon us, so do the mosquitoes!! We had thought mosquitoes were prevalent at the laguna, not at the beach; after all, there were no such mosquitoes during the day.  We are not keen to be feasted on again, but within minutes we are repeatedly bitten.    We soon agree that romantic a thought though it was, the reality of sleeping al fresco is a lot more bug-challenging than we had anticipated.    Off the sand bedding and we walk along the beach under the bright flood light of the full moon. The sea is still so shallow and temperate that we walk for a couple of hours along the soft white sand bars.  We’d rather go to sleep, but since we have no obvious place where to sleep, might as well enjoy the beach.
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When we get back to the hotel with the pier and decks, we spot comfy looking lounge chairs on the pier.  There are surely less bugs over the water. Ahh, our bedroom on the sea awaits us. The moon is playing visual tricks on the soft currents in front of us. It’s like a sophisticated laser show.

 

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We settle on to our ‘beds’, covering ourselves with scarves to protect from mosquitoes and enjoy a few hours bathing under the warming rays of the moon. We sleep for a  short while until we wake up, chilled. The night air is getting cool.   We are on the move again.  This time, our enemy is not the bugs, but rather the cold.  We decide that it’s time to break off from our vision of a romantic night under the stars, and splurge for a bedroom at the hotel, complete with hot shower.  We agree that this privilege would be worth $60. 
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We go to the resort hotel front desk and inquire as to the rooms.  Good news: they have a room available.  Bad news: it’s $375 for the night. This is a “no go” for us, so now what?  As long as we are in the 4 star hotel, we decide to take advantage of the infrastructure, go to a bar, and since we are cold, we ask for hot chocolate. We receive it. We wait to get the tab, but there is no tab. We realize that it is an all inclusive deal, customers don’t pay for food or drinks, its all prepaid.
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 It’s 1am and we are not sure where we will end the night.  We have a  surge of empathy for the homeless.  
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We sleep for a while on some lovely, comfy benches, padded with thick cushions near the pool area. The guests by now are back in their rooms for the night. A woman starts washing the floors nearby us, there is banging around, lights are on… in short, not quite what we had in mind.  We miss being on the beach under the stars and go back to see how the landscape has changed.
It’s about 3 am and it’s low tide. There are miles of white sand banks covered by a thin sliver of warm water.  We take a lounge chair from the hotel beach area onto the sand bank and sleep on and in the ocean for a while.  We snuggle together to keep warm. This is how we spend the rest of the night.. homeless, happy beach bums waiting for the warm sun to rise!
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When the sun finally rises, we are hungry.

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Ben has been keeping his good humor in part by looking forward to warm sun rays and a cappuccino from the hotel bar.  Stroll back to hotel. By 6:30, we can access a generous, all inclusive buffet spread. We join the crowd after a “clean up” attempt of taming some rather wild hair and that kind of thing… and help ourselves to fruit, eggs, rolls, tea and coffee.

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After a delicious and much needed breakfast we head to the lagoon area to bird watch. Herons, large white cranes and lots of smaller birds. Parts of the lagoon are dried up and we can walk on the lagoon bed getting closer to the water where the birds congregate, until the sun is too hot and we miss the beach, so we walk back.
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By staying the night on the beach and the next day, we now have the feeling of having been on the beach for weeks. We hop onto a local workers bus without problem. The rum is flowing and people are singing and enjoying the end of day bus trip back to the city. We arrive at our casa and enjoy loads of hot water and a decent meal before crashing to sleep for the night after our beach adventure.
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What  a great way to close 2012!
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