A Great Canadian Tradition: Going Down South

My first winter here, I quickly learned about one of the greatest Canadian traditions. No, I am not talking about giving a child their first pair of skates or closing the cottage for the winter. I am talking about “going down South”, which means escaping winter for a week or two by jumping on a plane to places like Cuba, the Dominican Republic or Jamaica. Now, if you’re retired or have a little bit of money, it could also mean heading to Florida for a while (but for no more than 182 days because you don’t want to lose your universal healthcare). Anyway, in an attempt to enjoy a true Canadian experience I went to Cuba for a week 4 years ago. If you’re soon going on a truly deserved vacation under the sun, here are a few tips (this is based on a one-time experience, so it’s probably not super accurate).

1- Remember the name of the place you’re going to. Not just the place, the name of your resort too. Sure, this could be useful when you get lost on one of the fun and exciting excursions you can’t wait to tell your friends about, but that’s not the main reason. When you tell people you went down South, their first question is “Where did you go?”, and by that they mean “where in Cuba/Dominican Republic/Jamaica and which resort?” because chances are they know it. If you don’t remember, just make up a Spanish name like “Princessa  de  la Playa”. Don’t worry, it’ll always sound fancy and believable enough.

2- There is only one Spanish sentence you need to memorize: “Una cerveza/piña colada/margarita por favor.” Most people who work at resorts speak English so you won’t really need it, but it will make you feel good for trying and your drink will taste even better. After a few drinks you’ll be convinced you’re bilingual anyway. Of course this doesn’t apply if you’re going to Jamaica. If you start speaking Spanish there, people might assume you smoked a little too much of the local green specialty.

3- Pick a resort that is known to be liked by Quebecquers because, let’s face it, they know how to take it to the next level. First of all, speedoes and thongs (for women AND men) seem to be popular which always makes hanging out at the pool entertaining. And if they all party like the ones who were at my resort, you’re up for a few late nights that involve a lot of drinking and swearing.

4- Do not post too many pictures of your trip on Facebook or Instagram.  Remember that some of your friends are still in Canada where it is most likely freezing. They will “like” your pictures but secretly be jealous and even hate you. Remember when Bob came back to work and couldn’t stop talking about how he just drank all day, laid on the beach and did nothing? Did you enjoy that? Exactly.

There, these are my tips for you to have a successful trip “down South.” Don’t forget to enjoy every minute of it, because chances are, when you land back in Canada your memories will be the only thing that can keep you warm.


2 thoughts on “A Great Canadian Tradition: Going Down South

  1. I think you’ve just about hit the nail on the head for most Canadians going south for that one week to 10 day-package deal. I don’t even talk to those people. Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are actually real countries where real human beings live, not just waiters and chamber maids. If you don’t make the effort to strike out on your own, with a little of the local language, you rob yourself of enriching experiences with people who live differently from you. But, I guess, some people don’t like adventures. I came south first in 1956, then 1965 to visit my mother’s family in Bermuda. Then I came on my own to the Caribbean in 1972, and, although I’ve lived elsewhere since then, my heart remained here. And here I stay (until further notice). And yet, I’m still a proud Nova Scotian and try to get there every summer.


  2. […] Oh, if you’re planning on going to an all-inclusive resort down South any time soon, here are a few pieces of advice I wrote for you. […]


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