Hot (or Not) Lips

On my fridge, there’s a Post-It note:

“Life’s too short to settle for Sriracha Steve.”

It’s a reminder to not settle for anything other than the best – which includes a dude who knows how to kiss.

No one likes a bad kisser.

I was set up with Sriracha Steve by mutual friends who told me he was a good guy with solid potential to be a good match for me. He was smart, educated, and had an established career. My friends showed me pictures before I met Steve in person and he seemed noticeably easy on the eyes and in good shape. I found out that we had personal similarities and shared interests in fitness, outdoor adventures and travelling. I was definitely curious to find out if we could fall madly in love and be together forever… or at least find lust.

We spent a Saturday evening with mutual friends, laughing through several rounds of Cards of Humanity while indulging in wine and good food. Shortly before midnight, just after playing a good ol’ game of Truth or Dare, Steve and I found ourselves alone together, sharing the same loveseat – obviously the perfect time for him to pounce and suck my face off.

The thought of kissing Steve had crossed my mind once or twice, but I was taking my time to feel out the situation still (and at the very least, required a little more wine as liquid courage first). When SR leaped from his side of the loveseat and tackled me with his lips – I wasn’t ready.

I was not ready for those lips and that kiss.

The kiss was aggressive and discontinuous, and his saliva trickled down my cheek. To make matters worse, Steve was breathing hot air into my mouth like a fervent dragon. While playing Truth or Dare, he had been challenged to eat a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce; his sloppy kisses were leaving an unpleasantly stale taste of hot sauce on my tongue.

Honestly, I hadn’t yet been completely sold on SS, but I had been open to giving him the rest of that evening and perhaps another date to make a solid impression – until that kiss. The Sriracha sauce turned a simply bad kiss into a gross and very awful kiss. I couldn’t leave that house fast enough; even though he insisted that I stay longer and possibly even spend the night. I drove home feeling violated and disgusting.

I was left wondering: How are people so bad at this simple skill?

My first real kiss (full on make-out: tongue and saliva exchanged) happened in grade 8, on the sidewalk near my house, with my first high school boyfriend. We both had braces and before we shared that special moment together, I was overwhelmed with fear that the horror stories of interlocking wires would come true.

Our braces didn’t get in the way and we managed to keep the spit off our faces. The kiss was enjoyable enough that we kissed every day for weeks until we found new high school crushes to practice kissing with.

Were we both just naturally born, talented make-out artists?

I will not deny that 12-year-old-Me used to have a poster of Nick Carter taped to the wall next to my bed. I would give it a quick, simple kiss before I tucked myself under the covers for the night (I’m not the only girl that did this, right?!). But, I will honestly admit that I’ve never gone so far as to practice open mouth kissing with my hand, pillow, mirror, stuffed animals, life-size dolls, etc.

In recent conversation with a friend about the art of kissing and how so many men I’ve met have yet to master it, he offered up this advice: “Press lips softly together, enjoy how that feels, repeat.”

I couldn’t agree more; kissing is as easy as those steps. In those moments where sparks start flying, go ahead and turn the intensity up, with wandering hands.

But there’s no need for bashing your teeth against mine (this smile cost $10,000 and 7 years of braces, brackets, and retainers) or violent wrestling with our tongues. Keep your saliva to yourself, and settle down on the lip biting. There’s also no need to draw blood; delicate nibbles are playful and enough of a tease to keep me wanting more…

One good kiss is enough to keep coming me back for more, and then some.

If all you have to offer is sloppy lips and sloppy seconds of Sriracha?

I’ll pass.

*photo credit: HD Wallpapers

Cuba, Page 5

Travelling is such a special experience; especially when you’re disconnected from internet and cellphone reception and you’re able to detach from the global drama that usually infiltrates your life.

When you’re in a different country and submerged into exotic culture, you’d be a fool to not completely engage in the moments unfolding right in front of you and all around you.

This is especially so in Cuba.

For most of the day, rainbows of Chevrolet Impalas, old Ford convertibles and pickup trucks, Buicks, Renaults, and the tiniest Fiats from the 1950’s roll down busy streets and crowded alleyways. Some people might consider missing mirrors and door handles, patches of rust and clunky demeanour as  a reason to send these cars to the junkyard , but once you’re exposed to the nostalgia carried in the tattered leather seats and chipped interiors, you realize that the flaws are reasons to keep these vintage vehicles around. Over the years, these cars have built up character on their travels, and approximately 70 years later, they’re just craving some well-deserved TLC.

From the minute I sink my butt into an ancient bucket seat, it feels like time actually rewinds multiple decades. With my shades on and a camera around my neck, I lean through the rolled down window, watching as we pass all sorts of dining tables set up on outdoor patios and under windowless hut-like structures. As we make our way down the street, I notice groups of tourists merrily strolling down the sidewalk or gathered around tables loaded with green, glass bottles of Crystal beer. While the tourists laugh and travel in herds, the locals stroll at a slightly slower pace and watch as the eyes of everyone from another country and continent light up in awe of new culture, while smiling and excitedly commenting about the colours, smells, and sights of Cuba around them.

And that’s one of the best things about Cuba – it’s a country that truly thrives on visitors from all over the world, so you’re bound to meet someone from somewhere else and make new friends you might never forget. You’ll meet them while waiting for another daiquiri at one of the most crowded establishments. Or maybe you’ll be the only two tables in one of the mostly highly recommended restaurants, and share delicious conversations about love, spirituality, and life. It’s not uncommon to bump into other tourists at your casa, along the street, in the local market buying souvenirs. You’ll definitely find new friends along the beach, basking under a palm tree or wading together in crisp, cool water while the sun sets. And maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone at the local bar who’s game for an adventure.

After 8 days of dodging slick puddles and watching my step through the streets of Havana and Trinidad, I finally settled down poolside with herds of other tourists at one of Varadero’s many all-inclusive resorts. I can’t tell you that there’s much to look forward to in terms of excellence, but you’re welcome to as many free-pour beverages as you want while you bask in the sunshine by the pool, and there’s really not much to complain about beyond that.

The last day of our trip before we had to pack up and find our way back to the airport just happened to be my birthday and I spent the day with sand, sunshine and decent amounts of rum. As the night began to fall,  I celebrated with a cruise in a retro convertible alongside a handsome new friend. There more mojitos, the cheesiest and somehow most romantic kiss to the tune of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” and a dip in the ocean…  appropriately “dressed” in my birthday suit. As my birthday transitioned into the next day, I continued to kick off a new decade of my life with good conversation and a Cuban cigar, while the sun rose in front of us.

Travelling – it’s the best way to meet some of the world’s most interesting people and put an exotic twist on life’s simplest pleasures. On top of that, it’s an opportunity to evolve, grow, and return home as a slightly better version of yourself.

And if you’re looking for somewhere with flare, and opportunity for a good story, Cuba is definitely a destination that won’t disappoint.


Cuba, Page 4

Part V

I felt like I had slipped back in time from the minute I entered the main hub of the Varadero airport. It happened again when our taxi pulled into Trinidad.

The worn down street that brought us into Trinidad’s downtown core was lined with casas painted in pastel shades of turquoise blue and canary yellow;  every other one promoting a place for tourists to stay.

“Mi casa es su casa.” – it really should be Trinidad’s motto. The couple sharing a table next to us during our first meal had arrived without planned accommodation and quickly found home sweet home with a friend-of-a-friend of their waitress just minutes after sitting down, before they even had a chance to order lunch.

The sun was hot and I stepped carefully along collapsing, uneven streets, fearing this might be the moment where I roll my ankle on the trip. Some locals stood in crowds along the streets – mostly men, and many of them eager to help us find a taxi. There were some who sat atop their doorstep, quietly observing the people passing by while children played nicely in the middle of the street… and others who sat on ancient chairs that were gathered around a rickety old table while playing some sort of recreational game. Boutique shops full of books, postcards, locally crafted gifts and souvenirs were were hidden behind open doorways, blocked by thick concrete walls. Giant square holes with sills that sat about 4 feet off the ground served as store fronts, lined with beverage and snack samples. In the background, you could hear scooters and tricycle bells making their way through narrow streets, dodging bunches of tourists.

The streets were lively, but there was nothing chaotic about the scenery. No one was in a hurry to get anywhere and there was a sense of calm among everyone who was hanging about. After spending 5 days gallivanting through the wild and wonderful streets of Havana, Trinidad was a nice change of pace. But my favourite memories weren’t made on the city streets.

Although I could walk from my bedroom to a balcony and enjoy a picturesque view of mountains, I had one small complaint about where we were staying: we were at least 12km from the closest beach. At one point, this this meant I was given the run-around from a local — trying to convince me he’d give me a ride, and then driving me farther away from the beach then where I started from. (Trinidad is apparently notorious for shady characters like this, who pose as AirBnB hosts and taxi drivers in order to scam tourists) But eventually, my toes touched the soft, white sand of Ancon beach… and I was officially in paradise.

Because you can’t beat palm trees and the ocean, a tropical sunset, and a blonde-haired, blue eyed babe in a bathing suit…

Am I right?