More of the Same

As I sit here with lizard like skin, peeling from the sun that I not only love but spent too much time in over the past few weeks, I realize what an incredibly imperfect, perfect week we had on holiday.  There was nothing spectacular about it.  With the exception of being with friends that we hadn't seen in two years.  It was that kind of simple, good busy week. And I am so very grateful. 
There were two anniversaries to be celebrated during this week.  Our friends' Brien and Suzanne were going on 21 years of wedded bliss just the day before mine and husband Jared's 16th.  So we chose to spend the day on the beach again.  Running and splashing and playing.  This time we played backgammon and Yahtzee and paddle ball and keep away in the water with a football (soccer ball).  Oh, and Husband Jared made ceviche with the fresh catch from the fishing excursion.  It was the best lunch we had there.  We're so classy we even ate it out of red solo cups on the beach.  Yes, we are those people. 
Ceviche lunch

Chubby bunny challenge in our room
Backgammon on the beach

The view of our "camp" from the sea
Three Daddies and Yahtzee

Eva and Thing 2, loving the beach

The beginning of a super fun game of monkey in the middle, boy v. girls.  Let's just state for the record that the boys won.  There I said it and I'm not ashamed.  It was a fun match and for holiday that's really all that mattered.  Oh and everyone, and I do mean everyone of our party of 15, were in the water playing.  I'm sure we were quite the spectacle. 
Following this game we all headed upstairs for an evening out.  This time adults only. 
We clean up alright!
We had big plans to explore Ybor city near Tampa.  The home of hand rolled cigars and the best Cuban food around.  And of course there were anniversaries to celebrate and what better way than with a good meal.  On our drive in to the city it began raining, but what a drive.  Over bridges and surrounded by the sea on both sides, just breathtaking.  Finding parking was a bit of a challenge but once done we were out and well on our way to exploring. There were a few blocks of walking ahead of us before the restaurant and we window shopped and were actually a bit surprised by the eclectic nature of the area.  We even came across a Turkish restaurant, it brought back such memories.
Until we arrived at the block the famous Columbia restaurant was on it didn't so much remind me of Cuba, or at least what I've read about Cuba.  Then we walked in the doors of the restaurant and I breathed in the smell of saffron and sea food and chili powder and my senses were so very pleased.  I only wish I had taken a few photos of the place.  It is in a grand building, wonderfully crafted, curved arches in the doorway, iron stair railings, enormous chandeliers, the lighting setting just the right ambiance and the furniture over sized and rustic.  Delightful.  We were seated near the stage but had unfortunately just missed the last flamenco dance performance.  It was on to tapas and crusty, steamy Cuban bread with fresh butter and then entrees and the like.  We toasted to each other, to wedded bliss, to holiday and to our friendship.  So very sweet.  And the food was phenomenal.  Husband Jared had the paella, I had roast pork with plantains, best I've ever had.  Absolutely delicious. 
With our hunger satiated and our palettes pleased we began the walk back to the car in hopes of finding some local cigars for the men.  And that we did.  A smallish place with loud Cuban music playing and a set of bongo drums waiting was so very inviting.  Although the cigar maker had left for the day the humidor was still open.  With some guidance they made their choice and joined us at the table.  Before cigars were to be enjoyed though Brien surprised Suzanne with this painting by a local artist that struck both her and I instantly.  Tears of joy, and of course pats on the back for a present well delivered.  There we sat, telling more stories, laughing together and the men enjoying their cigars.  A very indulgent treat.  I was in the mood for cafĂ© con leche and that is just what I had. 
What an ending to another storybook day.
The anniversary present

Three men and cigars

Cigar press

Desk for rolling cigars
The Reynolds, Steve and Annette


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