A Holiday to Cuba - Christmas 2012

A brief summary of my holiday to Cuba, with some serious bits, and some funny bits too!

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1. Cuba!

 

I got back from a 2 week holiday from Cuba yesterday, and I can honestly say it was one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on!

For starters, it was an all-inclusive holiday, so as we all know.. THAT’S UNLIMITED FOOD AND DRINK, at anytime, anywhere in the hotel. Amazing!
My daily menu consisted of bread, cake, crisps (potato chips for any of my American/Canadian chums), chicken and fries. The buffet area was filled to the brim with food!
We we’re there over Christmas, so we had a Christmas Dinner at the hotel. It was unbelievable! Granted, some of the traditional British features of a Christmas Dinner weren't available (much to my brothers disappointment), but it was still incredible.
Steaming piles of roast meats, crunchy loaves of fresh bread, vegetables in every shape, size and colour imaginable.. As for the dessert table. Well, dear reader, I can barely put it into words! Coconut truffles, strawberry sorbets, carrot cakes, coconut cakes, cakey cakes..
CAKES
CAKES EVERYWHERE!

The hotel complex itself was incredible! The gardens were kept looking pristine at any time during the day, the pools were always crystal clear and the beach was perfection!
Only downside was our most beloved pest, the mosquito. I caught one actually biting me, which I've never done before! (Maybe if he’d have asked, it could have been a different story.. Alas, he just went about his thievery of my blood, so he had to be exterminated!)
Apart from the Mosquitoes, there was such a variety of wildlife in Cuba. The most beautiful birds, and the strangest insects I think I've ever seen. The diving and snorkeling allowed me to see barracuda, turtles and the occasional nurse shark (between the bubbles of panic I was spewing about!) It fascinated me how this huge abundance of life can be in such close proximity to humans, and be comfortable.
We went to a crocodile breeding sanctuary whilst we were there, and that was a shocking experience!
Crocodiles in general are rather scary creatures, but add to that hormones, pregnancies and babies, and an animalistic instinct to protect, and you have what we’re were looking at.

 

8 feet of hate, sharp teeth and scowling eyes.. And scales.

 

In the UK, the closest you get to a crocodile is around 30ft, behind several layers of concrete, fences and height. In Cuba. I was a waist high wall away from them, and maybe half a foot higher. There was one, I called him Jim, who looked at me so intently all the time I was there. I could have reached out and touched his teeth if I had tried, and I’m sure he would have enjoyed that!
The blatant lack of health and safety in Cuba, although quite startling at first, is actually refreshing! It’s not exactly at a tribal level, I mean they still wear clothes and things, but, again using the crocodile example, nothing had happened at that complex since its opening 20 years ago.

I think people are wiser than the people who make up these rules think we are. Some of them are definitely necessary, but after seeing how happy the people of Cuba are, and how very much alive they are, I feel some of our regulations go too far, and are just expensive and pointless. DON’T HATE ME!
However, when I did get home, I did appreciate the pavements that didn't have holes in, and the fact that meat in supermarkets is prepared on site rather than in the street. HURRAH FOR RULES AND CLEAN TABLES!

The only thing that truly shocked me about Cuba is people’s lives there.
The average Cuban only earns 15 Cuban convertible pesos a month, which is the equivalent to about £10. The lucky Cubans in the service industry, according to our guide, mainly survive off the tips they receive, and we noticed this. Every member of staff that we tipped were so incredibly grateful for the one peso tip we gave them, it was humbling. As for the Christmas Dinner, I did feel quite awful at first, as the food was the most I’d ever seen in one room, so the staff definitely hadn't seen that much food. I didn't feel comfortable scoffing my face whilst they couldn't  Then I noticed something. Tables and tables of people were going up and getting bread and fruit, eating a few pieces and leaving a quite a bit. Then they called the waiter over, gave them a tip and said something. It turns out the staff were getting food after all, via the guests! It was a wonderful thing to see.. This ultimate example of kindness and unity, and at Christmas as well.. So we did the same, and our waitress was almost in tears with happiness, over some grapes and apples.. Humbling, yet an amazing feeling at the same time (to be able to help, I mean!)

When we went on a tour through Cuba, and saw the crumbling colonial buildings of the towns, and the homes that wouldn't even do as sheds in the UK, it was emotional. However, the sense of pride that these people had in the their homes, and of Cuba itself, was very inspiring. Even given their tough financial situations, they were all so happy. I found it odd at first, perhaps strange, but it is contagious! The smiles they all had whilst they looked on at us in our bike-taxi, and how the children waved and played with ancient toys.. I know it sounds cliché, but it did make me appreciate all of my things more when I got home, which is a nice thing to be able to do!
I can honestly say that Cuba is an amazing country, with such a vibrancy of life, culture and people, who can only be associated with a Caribbean nation! Brilliant, Amazing, Fab! There aren't enough words!

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