The next morning is filled with sight seeing as Nikko promised. The castle and the museum are incredible, Jared loved the museum. He was amazing to watch, the way he studied each painting and sculpture taking notes on his phone for later research and sneaking a picture here and there. At the castle Jared and Shannon run around like two little boys in a fort playing the brave knights protecting their castle. It was a side of them not many people got to see and a side we adored with all our hearts. Not many people knew where they've been and how far they've come and that made me love him even more. We decided to give the boys a little time on their own and head to the shopping district with Nikko's cousin Margarita. Now its our turn to be kids in a candy store, Margarita leads us to the best spots to shop, unfortunately for us "Tourists" the locals can spot us a mile away and will try to makes us pay a little more than we should although in all honesty that holds true anywhere in the world where you would be considered a tourist. We end up buying souvenirs, jewelry, gifts for Jared and Shannon. I even bought the cutes little guayaberas for Julian and the sweetest white embroidered dresses for Emmy, my heart aches at the sight of the little clothes but I know they are safe in their grandmas' arms. J:"Hey bug, you ok?" Me:"Yeah..... I just miss my babies" Julie puts her arm around me and pulls me close J:"Oh sweet pea, I'm sorry mama." I tear up Me:"No I'm sorry Bug this is your anniversary trip and....." J:"Nina! No! Don't you ever be sorry for missing your little angels, you're a mommy now and it's only natural you're missing them" Me:"Thank you baby doll I love you so much" J:"Love you more"
Two hours later we're packed and headed to the airport, S:"So this jet of your uncle's it's an actual jet right?" Jared:"What are you expecting Shan, a chicken coup and some wooden crates?" S:"Pretty much" they can't even keep a straight face. N:"Ha ha real funny guys!" Me:"Jared, Shannon be nice guys" N:"It's ok Mama I'm used their warped sense of humor....."to Shannon "Yes it's a real jet, but I can get some chickens and replace the seats with wooden crates if it makes you feel at home" we can't help but laugh S:"Oh now whose being a comedian" As promised the private Jet is ready and waiting on the tarmac, and its far more luxurious than we expected plush seats, mahogany paneling and a small mini bar S:"Are you sure this is your uncle's plane?" Julie digs an elbow into his ribs "SHANNON!" S:"What babe I'm just having a little fun with him" Julie:"A little too much fun" Nikko gives Shannon a sarcastic grin N:"Siguele Chico gue te mando en un burro" I can't help but laugh, Jared:"What's so funny angel" Me:"Shannon's gonna hitch a ride on a donkey if he keeps it up" we all start laughing well all except Shannon "Ha ha real funny guys......." To Nikko "A donkey, really Nikko a donkey?" N:"Hey you'll make it ...... Eventually" he looks at Julie who's failing miserably at keeping a straight face Julie:"I'm sorry babe but it is funny" Shannon just shakes his head in defeat
A hour an a half later we arrive in Varadero, a península located on the south eastern tip of Cuba. The crystal clear water laps lazily at the shore
as a soft breeze sways the palm trees to and fro. The drive to La Hacienda Paraiso leads us through a quaint picturesque little town with cobble stone streets and terra-cotta tiled roof tops. We take the ocean side road and in less than ten minutes the Hacienda comes into view a top a small hill, from this angle it would seem there is no beach access but actually the hacienda has it's own private little beach and terrace. The house itself is a Spanish Style Villa with a terra-cotta tiled roof and arches through out, some of which are trimmed with brick. The main entrance is flanked with beautiful wroght iron doors on either side. The inside is equally breathtaking, the two-story Villa has vaulted ceilings in some places with wooden beams through out, a wide spiral staircase and private pool with another set of wroght iron doors leading to a private terrace and a second living space on the private beach below which Nikko spoke of yesterday. Both bedrooms face the beach and include a gas burning fireplace and balcony. It's more than we could've asked for and I can see why they call it Paraiso because it truly is paradise.
That evening we have dinner at our host's house at his request. Nikko has already filled him in on the boys and he says he's honored to have us staying with him and we are welcomed back anytime we want. It turns out, very much to Shannon's surprise, Don Ignacio is part owner of a coffee plantation, he even offered Shannon a tour of the plantation before we leave. Shannon is beyond excited about Blackfuel he wants to learn anything and everything about coffee from growing the coffee beans, grinding, brewing and even how to make the perfect expresso. We didn't know it then but what started as a simple cafe bar remodel turned into a whole new business venture.
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