I got to the Ottawa airport at 2:30 yesterday. The airport bar already felt like a pick-up joint, with people in vacation mode already. Guys wearing straw hats and women already through most of a bottle of white wine. When you’re traveling alone and aren’t really talking to anyone, you can’t help but hear just about everything. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Once I was seated on the plane, a woman passing by to a seat further back stopped at my seat and said, “Oh my God, do you ever look like Tim Robbins!” And her friend, directly behind her said, “Oh my God, he really does.” Like I couldn’t even hear their conversation.
When the plane was delayed and sat on the tarmac for an extra hour in Cuba, all told, the travel experience was over ten hours, registering at the hotel at close to one am. A wasted day. But everyone was slugging back beer on the bus that took us to the hotel so a bunch of (mostly French) Canadians were buzzed before they saw their first palm tree.
My hotel is pretty nice. Good room, good views, free beer in the room and a lounge that’s open 24 hours a day. I asked the bartender at 1:30 am if people actually got up and started hitting it at six in the morning. He said no, but that’s when they often finished.
And then I turned in.
I went to the breakfast buffet around eight-thirty and I was already feeling a bit lonesome. And then I realize I’d only been here for seven hours and it was a bit pre-mature to make any judgments. But this hotel has five hundred rooms and I have yet to see anyone else who was clearly traveling alone.
The weather has been overcast, then rainy, and very windy today, so I just walked around the complex to get the lay of the land. I went to the spa to see about making an appointment for a badly needed haircut tomorrow (cheap) and maybe a massage (expensive). But then when I was in the dining room at lunch, the waiter told me as soon as I walked in that he thought I looked different from all the other hotel guests. That he thought I looked like an artist because of my wild hair. Tim Robbins and a wild-haired artist. Ha!
We talked about some Cuban baseball players for a while. The staff is so riculously friendly and even though it’s an all-inclusive, a buck or two here and there (the Cuban peso is close to the American dollar) and you’ve got a new best friend.
Still unsure about the food and the music is already driving me nuts but I’m starting to feel a little less lonely. And I have a few excursions tentatively planned, including one to Havana.
I’ve been on the ground for fourteen hours. And each one has been different.
All for now.