Dressed for the occasion - Travel writing competition – Winning story

by Kirsty Collins

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition. 

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As two excitable twenty-something girls, we could hardly believe our luck at discovering the Hotel Cayo Levisa, a beach hotel on a paradise isle, marooned in the topaz waters of the Caribbean Sea in Cuba. From the moment we stepped off the ferry, we squealed wildly every time our toes sunk into alabaster sands under the waving palm fronds. With only a few other quiet honeymooning guests in evidence, we quickly befriended the staff whose pulsating joie de vivre was infectious.

Our third evening there began typically: a dinner of uninspiring pasta and tomato sauce (or should I say ‘ketchup’ - Cuban food leaves a lot to be desired) whilst listening to the 30th rendition of Buena Vista Social Club we’d heard that day, played by the subdued hotel band. After dinner, however, the restaurant metamorphosized into something akin to a Bacardi advert. Whether it was the huge measures of rum or a reaction against the quiet honeymoon couples, I couldn’t say, but the waiters competed to make more and more elaborate cocktails and I was soon being twirled around the dance floor to the salsa rhythm, drunkenly believing that wiggling my hips would disguise my two left feet.

With the rum flowing through our veins, we jumped at the barman’s suggestion of a ‘night swim’ and donned our cossies. Not quite so brave, however, once we reached the water’s edge to be confronted with the possibility of things that go bump in the night, or should that be ‘squish in the water’. We paddled in though, finding the water as warm and enveloping as a duvet, and were soon floating on our backs and splashing around. When my friend starting squealing about being stung on her arm, I laughed it off as being simply a sea flea bite. It was only when I found myself screaming in pain that I realised that our hijinx had disturbed a seriously angry jelly fish.

My friend dragged me like a wounded soldier up the beach, to the restaurant. I was sat onto a stool where several burgundy welts began to appear across my legs. After politely turning down several waiters’ offers to urinate on me (which is supposed to take the pain out of jelly fish stings) my friend had the bright idea of using the vinegar from the tables to pour onto the sting. Waiters rushed slapstick back and forth, as if putting out a fire, to find vinegar bottles. Three bottles later and I sat in a pool of yellow, viscous liquid but my leg was still stinging as ferociously as ever. Sniffing one of the bottles, my friend exclaimed loudly that they had been pouring olive oil not vinegar on my leg for the last ten minutes. The whole bar collapsed into giggles. Dressed in nothing but a bikini in the middle of a crowded bar, I have never felt so well ‘dressed’...

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