If there was any reason why we would choose Santiago-de-Cuba as a destination, it would be because of its location. The north side of the island sat on the Atlantic Ocean; the south side on the Caribbean. Wanting the warmest weather, it made sense to pick something southerly as anything north would find us experiencing the same weather as they would have in Florida.
Following a three and one half hour flight from Toronto, our arrival at Antonio Maceo Airport, Santiago-de-Cuba, was a little different and somewhat overwhelming. The presence of military personnel was something to which we were not accustomed. Several tourists were pulled aside to do a secondary check of their baggage, and as we had nothing to declare, were able to find our way outside to the fresh air and to the awaiting tour bus which would take us to our resort, Hotel Gran Caribe Bucanero.
Although we had never been to Cuba, seasoned travelers had shared with us how the people could use clothing, personal hygiene, shoes, school supplies, etc., so we packed what we could in our luggage. It didn’t take long to seek out some help at Hotel Bucanero where we could donate our school supplies, medical supplies and clothes.
One of the first trips we made was to a school in Abel Santa Maria. People who had visited this school before told of the dormitories with beds leading them to believe it was an orphanage and an excellent place to drop off much-needed supplies.
In later years, we made Marcos Marti one of our schools of choice. Located just kilometres from Hotel Bucanero, it has been a popular drop-off spot for us.
In 1998, which just happened to be our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we were unable to fly into Santiago-de-Cuba and we stayed at Las Brisas, Guadalavaca in Holquin Province.
When 2003 rolled around, our 30th Wedding Anniversary, we were, once again, unable to fly into Santiago-de-Cuba, and yes, for the second time, we stayed at Las Brisas.
In 2006, we were unable to stay at Bucanero due to storm damage and found Sierra Mar. Approximately the same distance away from Santiago-de-Cuba, but on the west side. It too was a lovely hotel, great views, good food and a beautiful beach.