Friday, March 9, 2018

Cuba - Cayo Coco - Feb 27- Mar 6, 2018 - Part II

On Tuesday, the day we left to come home (Mar 6), I did a walk about of the Melia Cayo Coco resort with my camera.  These are "real" pix (not the photo shopped ones on the resort website).  Also, post Sept 2017 hurricane.  The resort is a nice one and even with the effects of the hurricane, it is still OK.  Cuba has a reputation for not being able to provide the amenities that we are used to having in, say, Mexico.  So add that to the hurricane and it could have been a lot worse. 

This is the door to our room - 2111.  Lower level of a "fourplex" (is this a real term?) - two rooms up and two down.  Large patio door type window opening to the balcony on the lagoon side.  The room was well air conditioned and had all the usual stuff in terms of shampoo, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, etc. Interestingly, no face cloths.  There were two blue "beach towels" which we were cautioned not to nick or we'd be charged an exorbitant amount for them.  The rooms were nicely made up every day, with evening turn down.

Stairs to the upper level of our building.

Other similar buildings.  Note the green lagoon water.  I wasn't surprised by this, having checked the Google satellite image before we left.  It's not photo-shopped!  I would have preferred an ocean view, but oddly, none of the complex rooms were situated close to an ocean view.

Walkway to dry land - looking forward, looking back.

Stepping off the walkway to dry land and looking left (above) toward the lobby, reception desk, etc. and looking right (below) toward the walkway that goes around the resort.  I started walking right.

Joe was walking along too, but got distracted (above).  Taking bird pix.

Below - these are some of the units that are not yet fully repaired - no ropes on the posts, workers still working on them.

These guys were working on some wiring - at least that's what it looked like to me.  The thatched building is part of the fitness facility, which was not operational - still being repaired.

Above - the vegetation is pretty ragged - I imagine it will take a number of years for it to return to "normal" post-hurricane.

This is a little "round about" - one way to beach and pool, one way to rest of resort, one way to our room.

This is the way to our room, below a path to the spa.  I had TWO massages!  A really nice treat.  Had to use up all those Cuban pesos!  Such a hardship!

Above, more scruffy vegetation - I was told pre-hurricane that it was very lush, with much more vegetation.  Below, beach looking right (which I think is south).

Above, straight ahead.  White sand, turquoise water.  Pretty nice!  The water is quite shallow for a long way out to the reef, which is the darker water farther back.  From the plane, we could see the sandy shallow water for miles and miles and miles.  No wonder it was (is?) a prime area for ship wrecks.

More beach looking in the other direction.  This was the area I preferred as it was closer to the rocks where I could go snorkeling and actually see some interesting fish.  I also took a boat snorkel tour from the beach - not sure if that's the right term - the boat picks up people from the resorts along the beach then goes out to the reef - we snorkel for about an hour, then come back.  The reef also shows signs of being abused by the hurricane.  Broken coral all over the place and sand where it doesn't belong.  It will take awhile for the reef to recover, too.  I did see a couple of large puffer fish and one barracuda.  It didn't look big to me, but I gave it lots of space anyway.  Don't want to make anyone mad!!!

These pix really show the hurricane damage.  The palm trees are really ratty - and these are the ones that didn't get torn out/blown over.  The metal frame in the below pix is supposed to have a roof on it.  It's the theater.

Coming around to the pool area now on my walk....  Above, bar on the main level, one of the restaurants on the upper level.  The meal I had there was the best I had at the resort.

The pool looks really nice - and it is.  But it's really just a glorified wading pool.  The deepest part is at the drain - more or less in the center.  Maybe about 4 feet deep there.  It was pretty quiet - no swim up bar even.  But most days all the lounge chairs were full so if I came late, I would flag down a pool guy to bring me one and then try to find a spot of shade for it.  Also - no one came around to take drink orders - if you want a drink - go get one at the bar and bring it back yourself.  Thank you very much. 😎

The building with the windows is the main restaurant (buffet).  The food here was better than I expected, given that we were warned Cuba is not known for the food.  There were a few things that I really liked - they have great ice cream and cheese!  

These ladies were playing ping pong on the roofless theater stage.  They did actually have evening performances, but we didn't ever remember to take one in.  I guess we have a bad attitude about that stuff....

The stairs go up to a little gazebo where they do weddings.  Although we never saw any sign of an actual wedding event.  Also, a yoga place and a work out room up there.

Looking through the main lobby.  The local tour bus just happened to pull up so I snapped a pix of it.  Double decker.  They do a run stopping at all the resorts.  Since we were supposed to be at the nicest one, I decided to just stay where we were.  Joe took it one day to get to somewhere he wanted to go looking for birds - he said it was packed!

OK - here we go - up the stairs... "stairway to Heaven"?  Well - maybe not, but I got a nice view of the pool and the ocean beyond.

The work out room is in the blue building straight ahead (above), yoga spot to the right.  Below, the wedding gazebo in the centre.

Above - the biggest surviving tree that we saw.

The two windows peaking out from the ground (above) are in the lobby washroom facilities. 

Back down the stairs and into the main lobby, which of course is also a lounge/bar.

Note the grand piano.  In the evening, there was usually some musical entertainment.

Above - from the lobby looking out to the outside lounge/bar.

And weirdly, I took a pix in the ladies room - there's that window.  Fortunately, the stalls were out of the line of sight of the window, but the sinks were in full view.  But if you will recall, you'd have to be up on that hill looking down.  I never saw anyone up there.  Joe said the guys were a little more "exposed" but again, never saw anyone trying to sneak a peak.

Above, outside the washroom. Below, inside, looking out.

The reception desk below.

Waiting area - for your bus, or whatever.

The flags were not cooperative, but the center one is the Canadian flag.

Above there are some little raft things that we saw guys moving around on the lagoon.  Not exactly sure what they were doing, but speculate they were pulling out big globs of vegetation/garbage.  

Below - the little booth where we could have picked up a bike or rented an ATV.  There was also a spot to rent a car.

Now heading back to our room from the main lobby, passing by a few little shops.  I think this one is the cigar shop (of course!!!).

The restaurant next door to our room (see previous post).

Restaurant display.

And I got a few bird pix, too!

I took a series of this guy - he found his breakfast so here he is munching on a fish!

Above - a blanket creature (I thought it looked a bit like the "Loch Ness Blanket").  😎  The maid doing the evening turn down liked to do these creatures.

This concludes our pix of Cuba.  We went to Cayo Coco so Joe could go birding and I think he came home happy in that regard.  It is truly unfortunate that the hurricane did so much damage - it wiped out thousands of birds including a flamingo colony near the resort.  I hope the natural flora and fauna are able to make a good recovery.  

Other than resorts and birds and bush (and a few lizards and bugs, I suppose), there is nothing on Cayo Coco - go there for the lovely beach and clear water.  No shops other than at the resorts, although there are a couple of small markets that would be focused on tourists.  I didn't go to either of them so can't give a personal account.

My rating of Cuba?  Well, let's just put it this way - it's not at the top of my list.  If we do go again, I'll try to persuade His Birdness that we should go to a slightly more settled place so we can get a better sense of the "real" Cuba.  But we did enjoy our trip and the bonus is that we apparently missed a record snowfall in Calgary!  So no complaints there!