I’m back

I returned from Cuba late last night after a long, long journey. Fortunately my luggage didn’t get lost on the way back to London, as it did on the way to Havana. The airline (Iberia) somehow managed to forget to load several baggage containers onto the plane, so when we arrived in Havana, our bags were still in Madrid. Some members of the group got their bags the next day, but I had to wait four days for mine, and one of group didn’t get her bag until we went back to Havana airport to return home.

View of Havana's Malecon (seafront)
A view of Havana from Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro

The group consisted of 15 Brits, two people from Ireland and one from Australia, and ranged in age from 30something to 70something. We had a Spanish-speaking tour leader from England, and various local guides. We all got on well and had a great time. Only a few of the group spoke Spanish, but this wasn’t too much of a problem as our local guides and most of the other people we met spoke English, at least to some extent.

The group
The group (plus two random kids)

We travelled all around the island from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, via the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad and Camaguey, and then back via Santa Clara, Soroa and Viñales. Everywhere we went, we were told a lot about the Cuban revolution. We also visited La Comandancia de la Plata in the Sierra Maestra mountains near Santo Domingo where Fidel, Ché and others took refuge after the unsuccessful uprising of 1956; Ché’s memorial in Santa Clara, and the Museum of the Revolution, including the original Granma yacht, in Havana. There were only a few mentions of Cuba’s pre-revolutionary history.

A view of Trinidad
Trinidad

For me, the highlights of the trip were Trinidad, walking in the Sierra Escambray and Sierra Maestra mountains, and a very memorable evening of music and dancing in Viñales, which ended with six of us squeezing into a Lada and being driven at high speed back to our hotel. That was one occasion when my Spanish came in very handy – there were no taxis but we eventually managed to find someone with a car willing to take us all to the hotel. The negotiations were conducted mainly in Spanish.

A view of the Sierra Maestra mountains
Sierra Maestra

As well as practising my Spanish, I also had opportunities to use my German, Irish and Mandarin. I tried to teach some of the other members of the group a bit of Spanish and some juggling as well.

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This entry was posted in Travel.

10 Responses to I’m back

  1. Rmss says:

    Wow, you really had a great time :-). I wish I visit Cuba some day, I’m really interested in the revolutionary past and want to know much more about it. Hopefully I have a decent level of Spanish at that time :-).

  2. Travis says:

    Your trip looks bright and sunny. The photos are really beautiful. Someone’s good with the camera. The Trinidad shot and Sierra Maestra are gorgeous. The tour took you all over the place… while toting the minimum luggage. How did you manage for 4 days without your stuff, and what did the woman who received hers at the very last moment do? It looks like inconveniences weren’t enough to detract from this most interesting destination. Glad you got to use your Spanish … AND your juggling while on the trip. Thanks for sharing your experiences on the blog. It was enjoyable to read. Encore. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  3. Evans Knight says:

    increíble.

  4. Simon says:

    Travis – in some ways it was actually quite liberating to be without my luggage for the first few days of the holiday. I realised that it is possible to manage with very few things and plan to travel much lighter next time. I bought a few new clothes and washed others. I couldn’t find anywhere that sold things like toothbrushes, razors or combs, so had to make do without them. The luggageless lady bought some new clothes, and borrowed clothes and other things from other members of the group.

  5. Flosse says:

    Nice that you had a good time and I am happy that at least some peoples’ luggage makes it to/from/through Cuba without incident, unlike mine which got a( “security check” :). Cuba is a nice country, I wish just that their government would go the same route as the chinese are going, slowly opening.

    //Flosse

  6. renato says:

    Wellcome home Simon, WE from Brazil, wish you a very Happy New Year with a lot os new language clues.

  7. 王翀 says:

    善明兄这么快就回来了,我以为那将是一次更长时间的旅行呢,除了照片里右边最高那位,我猜不出哪位是你本人了,莫非你是摄影?在中国,这种旅行方式很容易被导游宰,若有机会,我更愿意选择独自上路

  8. Simon says:

    王翀 – 我在照片- 从左第三位在前面。

  9. 王翀 says:

    啊哈,我看到了,和我想像中的教授样子差不多,你是教授么?语言学教授

  10. Simon says:

    我的工作是设计多种语言的网站。我不是教授。