Hasta la victoria siempre


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Pina colada sans rum

We travelled in the bus for several hours through the Cuban countryside passing sugar, mango trees, paw paw, pineapples, and citrus. Eventually we came to… Australia. No, not that one but a village with the same name. We stopped for a highly promised pina colada. After a brief discussion we found they came without rum. What was the point? So we co

Crushing sugar

ntinued to explore the incorporated zoo. Then we came across another bar selling freshly crushed sugar juice with… RUM! This was more like it. I had a second one to celebrate.

We left Australia and continued on through more country side. In time we saw the coast, part of the Sargasso Sea. Then we pulled in to our lodgings, Veradero Resort. Lots of milling and queuing so I sat and watched. As I sat I was presented with a lovely cold fruit cocktail. I knew good things come to those who sit and wait.

Veradero Resort

This turned out to be an all included resort and we were equipped with a wrist band. Then we were taken by golf car to our block. It was set in glorious grounds but 3 stories high. We were on the top floor. Anna lucked in and a lovely young lady, Kasia, who lives in Lodz carried her bag up. Our room was large and well appointed. It had a TV with CNN amongst others. They tell me Americans dont watch that channel because they cant spell it.

Dining room

It was getting late so we headed over for dinner. This was buffet and had a wide range of dishes and wonderful fresh fruit. After dinner we discovered that “all included” was literally correct. Beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks, everything. Now the spirits included rum of course, good vodka, Scotch and Irish whisky. Is this Aussie heaven?

Here we met another couple of similar age to us from Warsaw. The wife spoke excellent English and we shared a table. We were entertained by a magician. He was very clever and managed to remove my Fitbit and the other man’s watch. I cant remove the Fitbit without difficulty so I was really impressed.

As the evening progressed we noticed that the place was literally full of Canadians. I got into conversation with a couple and learnt that Cuba is a very popular destination.  It has a more pleasant climate (no kidding?) and is just a relatively short trip down. Not to mention, the Yanks cant go there, or could not until recently.

Breakfast was in the same room. More wonderful fruit. Guava, tree ripened paw paw and so on. I have never tasted paw paw so good. The room was open air so we shared the room with birds that flew in and out.

Internet hall

After breakfast Anna bought some internet access cards. Internet is not ubiquitous in Cuba and is government provided. The sales room had a sign saying that the internet service was down and apologising for any inconvenience. This sign was always on display. Often it was correct but not always. It was amusing to watch the people using their pads and phones crowded into the hall near the transponder.

After a decent cup of espresso Anna and I explored the grounds. The place was huge. There were at least 20 buildings like ours for

Quiet pool

lodging set in the landscaped grounds. There was a quiet swimming pool with deck chairs and a bar that could be accessed without getting out of the pool. Further along there was an active pool with a water slide and capacity for water games. Of course there was another bar. Along the paths there was art work on a fairly grand scale.


Finally we got to the beach. It was a relatively narrow strip of fine white coral sand leading to


beautiful aqua blue water. There were bures and deck chairs but no bar. After a brief stay we returned to the quiet pool by golf car where we enjoyed beers and cocktails of all sorts. I specifically asked Anna to get me sex on the beach.

Lunch was again in the same room. The fair was excellent. We spent the afternoon relaxing before the evening. Here I gained a taste for rum and ice. Cuban rum is very nice and the servings were generous.

Al Capone’s house

The evening and morning were much like before. The next day we checked out and headed off to Havana but the guide had a surprise in store for us. It turns out that Veradero is where the American gangsters congregated before the revolution. We were taken to Al Capone’s house. It is now a restaurant and was not open at the time we visited but we still had the complete run of the building and grounds. Perhaps surprisingly Al’s joint is not the swankiest on the strip.

Waiting for Fidel

So back to the bus and onward. This was the second day that Fidel’s ashes were being toured around the country. We hoped we might see it pass by but no one really knew the route it would take so it was all up to luck.

As we arrived in Matanzas the streets were lined with people obviously waiting for El Comandante. The school children were most noticeable. All primary pupils wear a uniform of white and red with a scout like scarfe and secondary students wear tan and white. We stopped and joined them.


It turned out we had a very long wait in the very hot sun. The school childrens’ behaviour was immaculate. They just sat there patiently in the full sun. We never saw any noise or tom foolery over the three or so hours we were there and they must have been there a lot longer.


As the hours slowly moved on, more and more people turned out. Many were in military uniform with pleasantly short skirts and patterned stockings. All the male officers greeted the females with a kiss.  Many people had patriotic signs, photos and banners. There was a genuine feeling of heart felt grief.

After several false alarms helicopters appeared in the sky.  Everyone now stood up. Shouts of El Comandante, Internationaliste, hasta la revolucion etc and tears aplenty. First police on motorcycles then a truck with journos on the back and a jeep with Raul Castro and then the coffin. It was so quick and people were everywhere. I used my motor drive but only got one decent shot of the coffin.


Anna had a much better spot, just under a BBC camera man and got great video. You can download the 9MB file here. Fidel Castro

And then it was all over. We had been part of a unique moment in history and seen the passing of the last great dictator from the 20th century.