¡ Viva Cuba !

Saturday 9th January 2010


I'm such a creature of habit. I couldn't help myself this morning, despite the multitude of choice for breakfast I went for two boiled eggs and some omelette!

At 10:30am we sat in the lobby to wait for our Virgin rep to arrive. I wanted to book a trip to Santa Clara but he never turned up which was a little annoying. We had wasted over an hour waiting for him.

Also waiting for the rep was this guy from Bradford who was furious with them. He had paid for the premium accommodation which offered a butler service, a private pool and many more extras.

Unfortunately the pretty lagoon in front of their villa was now an empty dustbowl filled with lorries and diggers which began their noisy work at 8am every morning.

"We can't stand on our balcony because of the diesel fumes" he complained to us. He was a retired travel agent and so knew the industry inside out.

He was disgusted with Virgin Holidays for not having informed him about the work and giving him the option to re-book.

The Virgin rep's no-show was probably because he knew he had this problem waiting for him. With half the day already gone we gave up on the rep and decided to do what all inclusive hotel guests do best, lounge by the pool.

It wasn't a particular nice day yet we still gravitated to the comfy day beds.

We weren't the only guests pretending it was a sunny day.

It wasn't long however when we couldn't pretend anymore. What was just a dull day became a really horrible day. The temperature suddenly dropped, dark clouds rolled in and then the wind picked up.

The drapes began to flap, gently billowing at first but then they were being whipped furiously. It got so bad that the curtains were literally torn off the day beds and parasols were upended then tossed into the pool. It was a scene of poolside devastation.

Cuba is prone to hurricanes but this was nowhere near hurricane force.

It was probably only classified as just a rather blustery day that's all.

When the rain began to fall we gave up on the day and returned to our room. We were the last to leave.

We watched local Cuban TV to try and catch the weather forecast but we only had to look out the window to see that it was getting worse. The wind was beginning to howl as the rain now lashed down.

After an hour or so we realised that the lunch service was about to finish so we braved the wet and went back outside to find some food.

Julie borrowed a thin sweater of mine. It was the only thing we had with us that could possibly keep us warm. All our clothes were of course light weight and summery ready for the glorious Caribbean weather!

By the time we reached the buffet hall the rain was coming down in sheets. I don't know why but we found it hilarious. We couldn't stop laughing about it.

Not everyone were of the same light hearted opinion. We met one guy who moaned "I'm never coming back here" which we thought was a bit harsh. The resort was quite nice. "No, I'm not coming back to Cuba" he continued. "Why?" we asked. "This bloody weather is ridiculous"

He then went on to blame the Americans. "It's the Americans fault you know! Their bloody oranges in Florida are freezing so they're spraying them to keep them defrosted. That's why we've got this bloody rain."

Wow, was he in a bad mood!

There wasn't much for us to do in the rain but after lunch we did find a games room where we had a go at playing table tennis. We hadn't knocked around a ping-pong ball probably since childhood! It was great fun and a good way of keeping warm!

Before returning back to our room we stopped at the lobby to make our reservations for the remainder of our stay. The resort had in addition to their large buffet hall several smaller intimate restaurants based on various world cuisines.

Ahead of us, trying to book the next seven nights in the Oriental restaurant, was a Japanese tourist. He wasn't very happy. "But this is my food" we heard him protest.

It turned out that there was a restriction that you couldn't book the same restaurant within the same week. I guess to make them all equally available to all the guests. He eventually conceded and made his reservations.

We booked three nights evening meals starting tonight 9:30pm in the Rock House Caribbean Restaurant, with the Italian and Oriental to look forward to.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening sleeping and half watching another film on the HBO channel until the alarm I had set for 9pm woke us up.

We stumbled out of bed and straight into the Rock House restaurant. It was literally only a dozen steps from our Guantanamo block.

Its open plan design was to built to enhance a pleasurable al fresco dining experience but with a baby hurricane kicking up a fuss outside it was more of an emergency zone dining experience. Broken glasses, table cloths and upturned chairs lay strewn across the floor.

They had pulled down screens in an attempt to enclose the restaurant but it was having no effect. We may as well have been sitting outside.

I did suggest to the waitress that perhaps we should just call the whole thing off but she was determined we were going to sit down and eat.

It was alright for her, she had a warm jumper and a hat. We were shivering as she showed us to our table and handed us the menus.

It didn't take me long to realise there wasn't anything suitable for me to eat. I explained that I was a vegetarian. "No problem, the chef will sort it" she said.

My starter arrived and was a pile of various cold vegetables. To their credit it was piled up very decoratively and the ingredients were very fresh. Julie's starter of shrimps with mayo was also put on the plate with flair. We were looking forward to our main courses.

Sadly they didn't live up to the expectations. The lobster and shrimps in a Creole sauce that Julie ordered was pretty cold when it arrived and she couldn't bring herself to finish the dish. My main was just a bowlful of greasy stir fry left over vegetables. I would have preferred another starter. We skipped deserts, it was getting too cold.

We should have gone back to our room but decided to have a few free drinks to warm ourselves up, just because we could. It felt really strange walking up to a bar, ordering a glass of wine and a Havana rum then leave without paying. It felt liberating so we did it a couple of times.

We sat in the lobby bar shivering with all the other guests dressed in their coats like we were all united against the elements in some disaster film.

Downstairs there was a party going on in the Captain Morgan's bar.

"It'll be warm down there" suggested Julie so we went to have a look.

A cabaret show had already started and four bikini clad girls were dancing on stage when we walked in. The acts that followed ranged from a man in tights ballet dancing with a chair to something that resembled the black & white minstrels. All very odd. The Tropicana it was not!

After twenty minutes we had enough poor entertainment for one night and decided to return to our room.

Today had been a complete wash out but at least the drinks were free.
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