Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adios Muchacos

With one last day in Cuba, I pretty much decided to play it slow and easy - having a few laughs and a few last mojitos with some of my newest muchachos.

I held no illusions of youth-driven, all-inclusive resort, Club Med-like activities while at Varadero. After all, there are limits as to just how over-the-top one wants to be while travelling with 30-odd relatives and family friends. I certainly didn't want to be remembered as the one that had a few too many at the family reunion.

It's rather difficult, however, not to meet up with some fun-loving folk - particularly when hanging with my little sis, Vixen, and her gal pals. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with the compact Irish lass, Martini, that they met up with at the pool. "Martini" might be a bit of a misplaced nickname since she doesn't drink at all, but she's got enough blarney and spark to drive a few leprechauns wild. With any luck we'll have a few more opportunities to catch up with her over the years.

I think the Pool Boys would be game for some future activities as well - having taken a bit of fancy to Martini themselves. The Pool Boys were just that - once I'd identified my pool-side bar and my prime relaxation spot, they rather commandeered the bar. For a couple of days, there was just no getting a drink without them involving you completely in their banter and games. I think I might have actually been that young and boisterous at one point in my life, but, at this stage, I had to discreetly throw as many shooters over my shoulder and into the pool as I threw down the gullet. I still have to laugh at their antics. Good thing I wasn't going to be at the resort for New Year's Eve. Surviving the evening might have proved a little more difficult than it would have otherwise.

The biggest "laugh" of the day, however, came at dinner over our last bottle of wine on the trip - not that the wine had anything to do with that chuckle.

691. 2008 Nichol Vineyard - September Ranch Pinot Gris (VQA Okanagan Valley)

This was the last of the bottles that I'd brought along with me and I took it to the family dinner we were gather for in the Italian restaurant. I won't go into the wine or winery much here because this isn't the first time that Nichol or their Pinot Gris have made The List. It does, however, bear a brief reminder that this Pinot Gris is one of the very few that I've come across where the winemaker leaves the freshly pressed juice in contact with the skins for up to 24 hours or so. It gives the resulting wine an almost coppery or orange tone which is both unique and enjoyable.

But the laugh of the day was courtesy of my nephew, Kam. He has high functioning autism but his social graces can sometimes be tested. He was going along great all dinner - until he heard some particular music over the restaurant system. Smack dab in the middle of our pastas, he burst into song. But not just any old song. He performed his own karaoke - and operatic - version of Verdi's La Donna e Mobile.

The entire restaurant went silent as our family wondered what to do. Sometimes trying to coax Kam to stop can create a bigger scene than the event that started it. To our surprise, our decision was made for us. The head waiter came out from the back and joined right in with Kam. The two of them finished the aria and its sustained final notes to a good deal of applause.

All I could do was wonder and ask, "How the heck does Kam know the lyrics to Italian opera?!" Turns out, the aria has been featured on Sesame Street during a performance of "Pigoletto" and our big guy often learns movie and television scenes that he likes by rote. The resort didn't offer to sign Kam up to a performance contract but he pulled off a task that I doubt you could ever successfully dare me to try - bottle of wine or not.

But, with the final night's fun well under way, it was almost time to face the reality of the flight home tomorrow. There was one last morning walk along the beach but there likely won't be any more Cuban wine in my foreseeable future.

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