• James Parry

Parrywinkle February 1, 2018


Super staffers in Cuba

Hola! Quite literally, I'm penning this week's column some 30,000 feet above Trump Land flying home to Hudson after a brief sojourn under the sun with my beautiful Sunshine in our favourite Caribbean parrydise around this time of year, Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba. All the while learning, from more recent arrivals to the resort, that freezing rain had transformed our little patch of the planet into a veritable glacial skating rink with dangerous slip-sliding the order of the day. Yikes!


RESOUNDING RESILIENCE – “So why do you keep going back to Cayo Santa Maria?” people often ask. Well, it's not just for the 15 km-long, coral- and peddler-free white sand beach, the superb and immaculately clean hotels and suites, the lovingly tended gardens, crime-free environment, and the all-inclusive format that is simply unbeatable for the price. But also for the Cuban people themselves working there for whom tourism - primarily from Canada - is the number one employer in the country.

Ask anyone who has been there and I'll bet my last peso they will all agree. These people, who are as honest as the day is long and who, through no fault of their own have never left Cuba and probably never will, could not be more hospitable, friendly, and courteous.

Their sheer and undogged resilience to adversity is simply mind-boggling. And this despite having to commute at least two hours each way to work their shifts that can start in the early morning and end late in the evening. And no overtime rates folks. This is simply their way of life while helping to provide for their parents, grandparents, or own young families back home elsewhere in Cuba.


HASTA LA VISTA - Speaking of resilience, as I was earlier, at the four hotels we visited, I was gobsmacked to see the incredible renovations, landscaping, and restructuration already accomplished since the devastating Hurricane Irma slammed the island in September resulting in utter devastation.

Roofs and even entire buildings were blown away. Tall Royal Palms, the symbol of Cuba, were snapped like twigs. Beaches were washed out to sea. Gardens and palapas simply ceased to exist. No tourism, no work for the Cuban rank and file employees whose homes were also blasted. But Cayo Santa Maria and the people there are bouncing back. And that, dear readers, is why we will be returning next year. And hopefully for many more to come!


FOOD FOR THOUGHT – I was just chatting to a lovely lady seated next to us returning to her home in Kirkland who told us that she is almost 70 and recently had to choose a primary care doctor. And here is what she told me.

“After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age.” A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking her, “Do you think I'll live to be 85?” She asked, “Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?” “Oh no,” I replied. “I'm not doing drugs, either!”

Then she asked, “Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?” I said, “Not much. My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!”

“Do you spend a lot of time outdoors, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?” she asked. “No, I don't,” I said. She asked, “Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?”

“No,” I said...

She looked at me and said, “Then, why do you even give a s#*t?” I spilled my in-flight Cerveza!


YOU GOTTA LOVE LILIAN! - In checking my e-mails upon arrival, I spotted this one from long-time Hudsonite, the inimitable and ever-young Lilian Connolly, obviously in response to a piece I wrote in last week's column about a recent guide for journalists in the U.K. stating that 'elderly' should no longer be an acceptable word when describing older people. Instead it recommended that people over 50 should be referred to as 'older people' or simply 'man' or 'woman' followed by their age in what would be a 'fair contemporary and unbiased' manner.

Wrote Lilian, “Hard to believe people are bothered by such trivial crap. I am in my 96th year and to me it's just a number. Call me whatever. But do it with a smile on your face. Do not sweat the small stuff. The Old Gal.”

I'm not smiling as I type this Lilian. I'm laughing my head off! Cheers and have a great day!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca