I love road trips. Is there anything better then loading up a car with a few of your best friends, a killer playlist, a cooler of beer and hitting the open road? Perhaps only if that car happens to be a baby blue drop-top 1953 Pontiac, and the road happens to lead you from Havana Cuba along the coast to the town of Varadero.
If you have ever been to Cuba you know that its a little like stepping into a time warp. You walk out of the airport and you are instantly transported to the 1960s where the taxi drivers await with floral shirts and woven straw fedoras. The line of cars that await you are straight out of 1940-50s era Americana with bright paint jobs, some incredibly well preserved, others not so much. The 1960s trade embargo between the US and Cuba has restricted the importation of any new American cars, and new European or Japanese cars can only be afforded by the super wealthy. So the people of Cuba have become very good at repairing and fabricating parts for their old vehicles, some of which boggle the mind as to how they still run.
The road trip across the coast took a little longer than expected. When you factor in the frequent stops to replenish the beer supply and the fact that we couldn’t do any more than 50km/h without bottoming out the rear suspension and rubbing the tires on the inside of the wheel wells, the two hour run from Havana to Varadero took us closer to three and a half hours. However the sun was out, the tunes were blaring and the beer was cold so we weren’t in much of a hurry.
We arrived in Varadero around 4:30 and checked in to an all-inclusive resort. I’m not usually one for all-inclusives, preferring to immerse myself in a place by staying in a hostel or guest house, but after a few days in Havana I was looking forward to sleeping in a nice hotel bed with a pillow that was thicker than a pad of paper. However my delusions of fluffy white duvets and pillows that outnumbered the sheets’ thread count were quickly squashed when we arrived to our rooms and I was greeted by the same uncomfortable bed, and the same paper thin pillow. Fortunately the resort wasn’t the reason we came to Varadero in the first place. In the morning we had an appointment to go skydiving over the peninsula, and I couldn’t have been more excited. So naturally we went down to the bar to keep our buzz going, may as well take advantage of the all inclusive booze.
Next thing I know my alarm is going off and its 10am, I’m laying on the bed with my head at the foot, my feet on the pillow, and it feels like I’ve been kicked in the forehead. I slowly get up and try to find my buzzing phone, lost somewhere in the mess of the hotel room. What happened in here last night? A Rolling Stones hotel party? I find the phone and stop just short of throwing it out the balcony window into the ocean. The skydive guys are picking us up at 10:30, so I try and get my shit together.
My companions and I meander our way down to the lobby around 10:45, the skydive guys are already there waiting for us. We rock up, looking pretty worse for wear with drinks in hand trying to settle the hangover, and ready to jump out of an airplane… well, as ready as we’re going to be in this state. We get in the truck and drive 15 minutes to a small local airstrip where the other skydivers and the plane await us.
I have tried to explain the feeling of skydiving to many people; the almost weightlessness you feel when you drop out of a plane, falling 225km/hour, ten thousand feet above the ground. Words can not do it justice. Like trying to explain what love feels like, or the feeling you get when you have the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, which is pretty much the same thing I guess.
Anyway the best way for you to get even the slightest idea of what it feels like, watch this video, then go try skydiving for yourself.
Big thanks to Russel Stevens at In The Cut Studios Miami for the wicked video edit
Check out Skydive Varaderro