Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cuba Bound

Bags packed and repacked, last minute details looked after in a flurry of this and that, the sigh must have been audible all the way down to my lobby as I settled into bed last night.  Now I sit snugly ensconced in my window seat aboard my Copa Airlines flight enroute to Cuba via Panama and finally I am able to put fingers to keypad and compose a few lines.  

Firstly, let me apologize a bit in advance for the visual aspects of the blogs I will be putting together in this next 6 weeks.  This one might not be too bad, I am using a new bogging app called Blogsie which has let me copy some pictures from my photo album on my iPad to add visual interest and I have chosen some photos I had taken on a previous trip, but not knowing this app very well I can't seem to find a way to size them smaller. Addenda: notice that I figured that out?

I am going to try and find some connectivity at the airport in Panama to upload this blog, blogging will be much more difficult when I get to Cuba and the speeds too slow for any pictures to be uploaded.  I am wondering if these pictures may be too much to upload in Panama as well and I might just need to delete them if I have difficulty.  If you are reading this blog posted from Panama and there are no pictures you know what happened.  

Cuba is another matter.  No pictures for sure. Infrastructure in Cuba is just not able to support fast connections, with the US embargo they are not able to deal with US companies nor are they able to connect to the good old www via the States.  Also, no wifi and no USB and a meter on the Internet cafe computer means I will need to retype my compositions using the Spanish keyboard - tedious for sure! The Cuban Convertible Pesos are pegged to the US dollar so at 6 CUC per 30 min, unless you compose in advance and type quickly blogging can get expensive.  So you will need to excuse my terse, poorly worded in haset blogs of the next 6 weeks while I am in Cuba.  I don't intend on spending much time in my room composing blogs, just time to sketch out the briefest accounts - the details will need to wait!

Yesterday was not one of my finest. I usually try and squeeze too much into my days and since my last day at the office on Wednesday, I bet I set a personal best for 6 days of constant "get things done" activity.  My to do list, which lately has been a small spiral bound dog eared notebook, has pages of items checked off from these last few days.  The bigger problem was the unplanned items which sucked up time.   Too little time and so much to do! I regret not taking up that last minute late afternoon coffee date offer yesterday - who know maybe he was my Prince Charming? No, better not open that box of candy when there is an early morning flight to catch and you are not yet packed!  

  • Like the ill fated trip to Canada Computes, which is the best computer parts store among the 20 or so along that College Street strip just south of the University.  I left without getting the netbook battery I desperately needed and a $450 parking ticket to add to the aggravation!   A costly lesson in paying attention to things outside my immediate focus.   What looks like a parking spot by the road markings and line of parked cars on either side might instead be a loading zone.  Note to self: going forward you will alway check what the sign says not just a red circled   "P".  
  • Like the frantic, last minute emails between my Collingwood tenant regarding her difficulties with paying rent now that she has a restraining order on the boyfriend who had previously ponied up half the rent and who also was requesting to have his name taken off the lease. 
  • Like the doomed effort to resurrect my old netbook, with a good battery but nothing else good about it. I gave up when iCloud proclaimed that it did not support my browser and I was running the most recent version which was upwardly compatible with the OS, lowly XP, which powered this little grannie.  I resigned myself to be tethered to power when I need my net book. Not that much of a hardship as I also am bringing my iPad.
  • Like the late night run to the bank to deposit my new home HST rebate check which had arrived in the mail and was forgotten in the frenzy of activity until I noticed it when clearing out my wallet.  
  • Like the urgent exchange of calls with The Bank call centre agent regarding the RESP withdrawal I was trying to make for my daughter who is in her 1st year of Ryerson.  It seems I needed to send proof that she had enrolled in 10 hours of courses per week last semester or I could only pull $5,000 out instead of the full balance of $5,188.  

With only a few things not as I would have preferred, the dead battery on my net book being one of them, I had everything prepared for my departure about midnight last night.  After popping open the little teeny bottle of bubbly - I think it was all of 250 ml - I raised a glass in toast of my adventure to come, set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. and was instantly asleep.  

Everything was laid out and ready to go, which was a good thing cuz next thing I knew the phone was ringing and my airport limo driver announced he was in the lobby!   I had requested a wake up call - which somehow was not delivered.  What happened to my alarm is a mystery, maybe I slept through it or perhaps I succumbed to the old am/pm mix up, I don't know.  As I realized that I had 10 minutes to get to the lobby before the $39 per hour wait time rule kicked in for the limo driver, I sprung into action. I was in the cab 5 minutes later. Sure pays to be organized.

Not to let you think it was all work and no play in this last week, I did do the rounds of goodbye events and visitations.  

  • My office mates gave me a bang up party on Thursday night.  I was given a compass with my boss's business card glued on, so I could find my way back after my travels.  
  • Friday I took my folks on a road trip to visit my brother out Lake Huron way.  
  • Saturday I trucked up to Gopher Broke Farm and we had a great evening of sing along to the great duo stylings of Johnny and Davey.  Davey had fallen in love with a red head who let him play her strings like it was their first and only night together.  This is a bit of an inside joke  as the red head is an electric  guitar leant to him for the night by our 83 year old friend Beba who is a country neighbor of Barb and John's.  It is a treasured remembrance from her now long dead brother and quite the prize as far as Davey is concerned.  He has been given permission to borrow it for the evening anytime he comes up to Barb and John's. I guess he will be a frequent visitor.  He is infatuated with the gal.  When he was questioned as to why he thought the guitar feminine he could only say "How can she not be - she is so wonderful to hold!"
  • Sunday, Barb and I walked over to Beba' place, which is 5 files away and is a standard part of our training to walk the Spanish Camino in April. It was great to visit Beba, who was a bit laid up having sprained her ancle a while back.
  • I rushed back into the city to attend Sunday night's bon voyage family dinner party and we did a French wine tasting in honor of the Paris leg of my trip, where I will be joined by 3 (and perhaps even 4) of my adult children.  I walked half the way home from the Beaches before I packed it in and jumped on to the King streetcar after feeling a hot spot on my heel start to develop from my winter boots.

Monday and Tuesday was all about the to do list as you already know.  

But enough of the minutia of my left behind life, which I will now refer to as B.S. - before sabbatical.  But I will start that tale in the next blog, which may or may not be finished in time to post when I get to Panama.

As the plane heads down beneath the clouds toward Panama city and I have gotten this blog finished, it feels like my to do list is complete.  What next?  Havana!


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