It was fairly easy to detox while in Dominical – Bamboo Yoga Play was a healthy place. As it was we were mucking up the vegetarian and raw food kitchen with occasional portions of meat – although not as much meat as we ate generally. And, with the fruit stand across the road, it was easy to be healthy. But I was dreaming about mojitos in Havana, Cuba.
As soon as we left Dominical, things started to change. When we first arrived in Alajuela, Costa Rica’s second largest city and the one closest to the airport, we ate an enormous plate of the day – rice, beans, stewed meat, fried plantains, and a Russian salad of beets and hard-boiled eggs, accompanied by a watermelon flavored juice. It was a large volume of food for someone whose stomach had shrunk over 12 days. Then, we had McDonald’s for dinner. I only ate the Junior Mac instead of a Big Mac and we skipped the side order of McNuggets, our usual. But, it still felt like a splurge.
Perhaps we have a problem?
It was the agreement not to drink that was the hardest. We agreed not to drink until we arrived in Cuba, and agreed our first beverage would be a mojito. It was poetic. But, it was getting harder and harder to wait outside of the confines of the healthy yoga retreat. First, a group of French kids asked us to watch their stuff for a moment at the hostel – a couple of phones and a six pack of beer. It was hard not to steal one as a tax for our services. A beer that is, not a French kid.
Then, on our way to Cuba, we had access to the VIP lounge at the San Jose Airport – with only a few weeks remaining on my elevated United and Star Alliance status, we wanted to make the most of it. We received two free drink coupons for the lounge, but agreed to skip the cocktail. We saved our tickets for when we returned to San Jose.
Then, as if this was not bad enough, not only was the alcohol free on our 2 hour flight to Cuba, but they had the 7 year old Ron de Cana rum, a rum we enjoyed quite liberally in Quepos. Eric wondered if it would count if he ordered a Cuba Libre over international waters. We held steadfast, but I wondered if this was a sign that we have a problem.
The discussion of breaking our detox was worth at least a little analysis. Perhaps it would be a problem if we, in the end, could not wait for the mojito and instead jumped at the chance for free booze. (I say “free” but the flight was over $1000 round trip for both of us, hardly free.).
Arriving in Cuba and Dreaming of Mojitos in Havana
We calculated how long it would take us to arrive in Cuba, get through customs, get our bags, change money, get to our hostel, and make our way to our intended mojito destination – Puerto de Sague, a cheesy, nautical-themed bar we saw on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. With our flight scheduled to land at 2pm, we hoped to be at Puerto between 4 and 5. I hoped that we could have our first drink before 5pm – it just sounded better that way. Mojitos in Havana should be drank before 5.
We were concerned whether we would make it in time after we arrived at our Casa Particular, a private home with rooms to rent to tourists. We needed to wait for the owner to arrive to check our passports and have us register in the book. There was a concern about us walking around Havana without being properly registered. We also needed to change money into the local CUC, the convertible peso currency. We made it all happen just in time and hopped in a Coco Taxi to the restaurant for our first mojitos in Havana.
Sweet Sweet Taste of Relief
Overly excited, the mojito was a bit of a letdown. Although we breathed a sigh of relief because we made it into Cuba, the mojitos in Havana were not as sweet as we were used to. Our local neighborhood bartender in the Washington, D.C. area, Pieter, spoiled us rotten when it came to mojitos. But, we enjoyed it nonetheless. After all, we broke our detox, and we were enjoying a mojito in Havana, Cuba.[box]
For more about classic Cuban cocktails, check out this post about the Cuba Libre[/box]
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.