Cuba 2014. Part One.
As many of my readers and friends know, including people I met in Cuba, while I was on my 2014 pre-Christmas Break I kept myself a holiday diary with the intent of bring it online upon my return to the UK. Well dear reader, I am bringing the diary of my 14 days in Cuba to the pages of the Sandman. It’s only taken me four years (I lost the book for a bit being one of the main reasons for not doing it sooner). So crack open a bottle of your finest Havana Club Gold, sit back in your favourite chair and dig out the Cigars.
Are you sitting comfortably? Good then we’ll begin- Watch with Mother- BBC TV 1960s
My travelling to Cuba was fairly ok, my flight was from Manchester Airport and I arrived nice and early and as consequence I was able to upgrade myself to a seat with extra leg room ( which translated as chair by the door in practical terms). The traffic had been good, so I made good use of the time to get myself a full English Breakfast at the Airport bar and a couple of pints of the Weetwood Ale Cheshire Cat, which would be my last real ale for 10 days. I don’t recall what films I watched, if any, on the plane and I have a sneaking suspicion I just read a book and snoozed for the duration. I did a bit of airport watching and noted there was a man who looked about 25 in a wedding dress with a bunch of mates and guessed this was the start of a Stag Weekend… I did wonder if it was a gay wedding but it occurred to be that if were, he or one of his cohorts would have done the decent thing and zipped up the back of the wedding dress. I was still suffering with my knee at the time and undergoing physio so I did most of my observations based sat down. Unbeknown to be at the time, but a nurse who would be holidaying the same hotel as me had been observing me limp around the place. The flight was called and it was a relatively event free flight with only a minor disruption due to turbulence mid flight. While it took a small while to get through customs at Holguin airport it was not as bad as arrivals in Margarita I can tell you, annoyingly though my suitcase was one of the last out.
After a long journey by coach I arrived at the Blau Costa Verde in Playa Pasquela and we were greeted by a torrential downpour and a Thunderstorm. No doubt this was the Cuban weather trying to make us Brits feel at home, but I wasn’t one to worry, I was one holiday and the lightening was spectacular. I checked in, went to my room and did two of the three S’s a gentleman does, only to discover one was slightly compromised in that I couldn’t find any Bog roll!! Ah well, it’d wash off in the shower. I put my nearly exhausted phone on charge and changed into fresh clothes which included my Trust Me, I’m the Doctor T-Shirt and headed to the Lobby Bar (as the route to it was fully covered). I ordered a beer which was Cristal- not the Buccanero as I had hoped- but never mind. At the bar, I met a couple from near Manchester called Dave and Barbara and we had a giggle about the Wedding Dress guy at Manchester. In the background there was a string quartet playing and their performance included works by Mozart, “Pachabel Canon in D” and later “Air on a G-String”. To get into the holiday spirit I reached over for the cocktail menu and ordered myself a “Cuban Sunrise”, basically a Tequila sunrise but with Havana Club Rum instead of Tequila, followed by a Blau Special which was Rum, Coconut Cream, Banana Liqueur, Pineapple Juice and Blue Curacao. Both of these drinks are perfect examples of how liquids of different specific gravities react within a cylindrical container. I explained this to Dave and Margaret and I was subsequently cribbed “Science Teacher”. I then went off to the Hotel buffet for dinner and returned to the bar for a bit, but come about 10 o’clock the Jet Lag caught up with me and I retired for the evening.
I woke at about 7 o’clock, showered and went for breakfast and then proceeded to one of the suites for the usual welcome to Cuba talk. I booked my ticket for the VIP lounge at the airport on departure day and booked myself 5 excursions, only to discover I had booked the wrong trip on one occasion in error. Ah well I am sure I could correct it tomorrow. I booked myself for the Gala night on Wednesday and went off for a swim before going to lunch. After lunch I had a lazy afternoon reading, swimming and drinking . Amusingly I over heard a self-appointed (aren’t they always self appointed?) Moral Guardian complaining about older guests having younger girlfriends/wives etc. What business of this was hers? Not my scene but it’s not my life either.
The book I started reading was Enter Wildthyme by Paul Magrs and had the tag line “Time and Space, Good and Evil, Gin and Tonic”. From the blurb on the back I got the impression it was going to be a reworking of the author’s Doctor Who novels The Scarlet Empress and Mad Dogs and Englishmen, or possibly a prequel. Among the elements in the novel there is a secret transtemporal investigations organisation called “Miaow”, a sentient Vending Machine called Barbara and talking detective Panda who is ten inches tall… No I haven’t made that up to see if you are still reading. Believe me, with author Paul Magrs, anything goes in his books.
Early evening I showered, had dinner and chilled in the Lobby bar for a while, as I arrived there was a local band on stage performing “Beseme Mucho”. I had a few drinks, mostly beer, before going out to watch the evening’s entertainment which that night was Opera. No, really. There was a male and a female singer and they covered a lot of well known songs such as “O Sole Mio” and a fair few I recognised but did not know the name of. After the singers departed the stage were treated to some music and flamenco dancers, I noted three of the guitarists were in the band that was playing in the lobby earlier. Once the entertainment was over I went over to the Pool bar and mingled with an elderly couple and put the world to rights for a little, while drinking a few Cuba Libras. In true Sandman tradition I was the last man standing for quite a while until a young couple arrived from the disco with their mother. I had a few drinks with them and they encouraged me to have a few shots with them… it was then I remember why I don’t do shots as I then had a sudden need to prey to the porcelain god. After having a mint or three, I returned to the bar and got chatting and ended up given the Lad’s mother my traditional back massage… and we er… got a bit carried away and a bit over friendly. Nearly ended up with her in my room… seems I still had it in 2014. However this didn’t happen as the lad staged an intervention as he did not like this idea at all. Oh and the Barman wanted to buy my phone and I explained it was on contract. Anyways, being a bit worse for wear I returned to my room and pretty much zonked out the minute I lay down on the bed.