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Adventures in the Caribbean: General: Golf:

Part 8 - Return

The Friday we're there for the day, but have to leave at 6 p.m. for the airport. We track down the tour rep & book the VIP service. More on that later. We spend the day hanging out at the pool. In the morning though I went to the other hotel, Carisol to check out hats (still no beret for Rob, sorry none to be had) & get my cigars from the hotels cigar guy. We wait & wait & wait. He's not there at the agreed time, the store isn't open. It seems the bus from Santiago has broken down & no one knows when it will arrive. Nancy leaves to hang out at the beach or the pool, I stay for a while. After almost an hour I give up & leave. Later in the day I went back & he was there. I pay him & get my cigars. He cautions me about leaving the packages sealed to get past customs at the airport, and gives me another one for free. I end up getting Cal a hat in our hotel store. Pretty slim pickings for souvenirs I'll tell ya. We see our bartender friend, Francisco, & give him a gift of a Bandana. In the afternoon I get him to give me the recipe for Havana Special & tip him yet again (he didn't want to give away trade secrets...yeah right). He counters with a free bottle of rum for us. I ask him if he needs any soap or toothpaste for his family & he says, no, all he wants is my friendship. Nice guy. I get his address & we sent him an elastic bandage (tensor wrap) for his knee. He asked if I had one & I said that I would send him one. It's almost time to leave & we're supposed to meet the knife sheath guy at the lobby bar. We go there & he's not there. Bummer, but we still have a few hours. We are walking back to the pool area (we seemed to spend most of our time there) when we bump into him. I ask about the sheath & he says that the guy hasn't made it yet, then takes off his sheath, the one I was admiring in the first place, & gives it to me! He says that the one his friend is making he will take. Now THAT'S a souvenir!

We get on the bus at 6:00 having made some sandwiches at lunch for a snack. Angel, is the tour guide on the bus! We snap his picture and send him a copy also. We get to the airport, & this is where the VIP service comes in, we get off the bus & there is a woman standing there with a VIP sign. We see her, give her our travel documents, the $20 VIP fee each, and the $25 departure tax each and our bags are whisked away. After clearing the metal scanner we are ushered into a private lounge, where there is an open bar, a television, leather couches etc.. We don't have to line up anywhere. Our tax is paid for us, our passports stamped, & our bags cleared through customs, our boarding passes are returned to us & we're good to go. We watched Fidel on TV & relaxed for a few hours, had a snooze etc.. Then we were escorted out of the terminal building & onto the plane. Just us, no lineups. We were the only ones on the tarmac, being escorted alone to the plane. I said to Nancy, ?Look, we?re being ?escorted? out of the country!? LOL. The Stewardess even asked us why we were alone & so special. Apparently, this VIP service was VERY new! I dunno if it was worth $20 a pop, but it was nice not having to line up.

The flight home was a nightmare. I was sick as a dog. The stewardess even offered me a row of seats to myself to lie down in. I didn't want to move at all, I might have lost my cookies just standing up. Then they served dinner. You guessed it, my favorite, pasta. Not only pasta, some pasta with some vomity smelling cheese sauce on it. The smell alone wanted to make me heave. Needless to say I avoided it & skipped dinner. Finally we landed about 2 in the morning or so, breezed through customs. The only question the customs agent asked was if we were bringing over $10,000 back into the country. PPPHHHHTTT!! Yeah, I wish!

Off to the hotel after searching for the courtesy phone to call the shuttle for 15 minutes, & to bed about 3.30 a.m.. We get up in the morning with the idea of swimming in the pool & a sauna or something. My sunburn is still pretty tender and the pool doesn't look very inviting compared to the paradise we've just come from. We decide to come home after an expensive breakfast, arriving just after noon on Saturday the 18th. I take the 35mm film into Carmens, the slightly pricey place here in town & get it back. Problem is they do a good job. Great pics though. I take the APS into Zehrs, much cheaper. My first experience with Zehrs. They manage to expose an entire roll, ruining it completely. I've sent it back to Fuji to see what they say, but Zehrs gave me my photo finishing on the other 2 rolls for free AND 3 free rolls of film, so I'm thinking that they know it's their fault. The pictures don't look nearly as nice as the 35mm ones. I had a couple of reprints of the 35mm done by Zehrs and they screwed those up too. Not even close to the original. I guess that's it for them.

All in all a great trip though, a place we both agree we would like to go back to. We would recommend this place to anyone. I guess I can get those missing pictures next year. :-)

Filed under Adventures in the Caribbean, Oct 10, 2005

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