Playa del Blanco is a deserted beach with a wide strip of fine, white sand (hence the name) that slopes gently into the sea. It had some of the calmest waters I have ever been in and was definitely one of those beaches that is so beautiful it inspires you to want to give up everything and live out the rest of your days there.
In a song about tourism in Varadero — once a Cuban vacation destination and now off-limits to locals — the singer Frank Delgado lamented,
The last time I walked through this land, it was still my friend Cuba. I did not need a passport. I do not remember when the peninsula was taken from my hands or even whether anyone asked my opinion?
While I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Varadero, there was always a guilty pain in my heart of being somewhere that the natives could only dream of returning to one day.
In the evening the three of us decided to take salsa lessons from the owner of our casa, Sergio, whom had generously offered to teach us the basics for free. Salsa is difficult to master, but when done well it is a mesmerizingly sensual dance. I struggled to follow Sergio’s lead the entire time. For me it was a challenge to combine the hip movements with the simple forward-back step. However, even though I failed on the dance floor, I am really happy that we ended our trip on this note. Instead of focusing on the sadness of leaving a place I had come to love; I laughed, sweated, and learned something new and essentially so Cuban.
Marc and I walked to a part of El Malecon and said our goodbyes. I thanked him for enriching my trip in ways that were indescribable and as a token of my appreciation I gave him my Lonely Planet Cuba guide to use on his last days on the island. We promised to see each other again soon and I knew that for once this was not one of those empty promises you make to those you meet on your travels in order for the goodbyes to be not as painful.
Afterward: Marc and I did see each other again. . .a week later in Los Angeles! I helped him celebrate the last destination in his round-the-world trip. We could not stop talking about our adventures in Cuba the entire time together. Oh, and I got my precious Lonely Planet Cuba guide back.