I have just returned from holidaying in Cuba. I would have blogged but there was no wifi and the business lounge consisted of two old desktop PCs out of the 80s with a dial-up internet connection. It took me around 10 minutes just to open up an email and browsing the internet was like the early days when you just watched the screen very slowly refresh itself. It’s amazing that the country can function without wifi or broadband, but it just about does. So I had two weeks without email, twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to keep me company. I was off the grid, the only comms media I had was texting.

I had all good intentions of keeping up the exercise. The plan was every other morning to jog along the beach accompanied by a few dips, crunches, press ups and burpees. These caveman type exercises were to be alternated with diving, swimming and beach volleyball. The beach exercises were easier at the start of the holiday when, due to jetlag, I was waking at 06.30 and could fit them in before breakfast. But the motivation for jogging at 06.30 waned as the holiday went on. However, I did manage to scuba dive every other day and play volleyball in between diving; I even had a couple of swims. Despite consuming three meals a day I managed to lose a couple of pounds or at least not put on any weight, but I would put this down to sweating out around 5 litres of water a day in the 35 degrees Celsius heat, rather than the exercise.

I have mixed views on the hotel – in summary it was in a good location but in desperate need of investment and repair, just like Cuba really. The hotel was located on a beautiful beach, the sand was white and the water crystal clear and at a comfortable 30 degrees Celsius. The hotel consisted of about a dozen small 30 room villas arranged around a wonderful pool with a convenient bar at the centre of it. One downside was the cocktails – far too sweet due to being made with cordial rather than fresh juice, except for the mojito (and caipirinha) which was good but often ran out. The other downside was the food – very limited fir vegetarians and not great for carnivores. The barbecue/grill food was fresh and tasty but the food in the laid out in the buffet troughs reminded me of school dinners. I have sent a review to Trip Advisor.

The hotel boasted nightly entertainment. Unfortunately it was cross between Eurovision, Butlins and Pheonix Nights, a fifties cum seventies cabaret. On a scale from not camp to very camp the entertainment was extremely queer. The outfits were big and blousy with lots of frilly sleeves and Carmen Miranda salad buffet headsets. Cuban Night was the highlight of the week. It was the dancers’ interpretation of Cuba throughout the ages. My favourite dance has to be the one with the overtly gay slave trader, complete with whip, mincing around “Negro” slave girls who were eventually saved by a Rambo style Cuban jungle with machete.

The audience where from a range of countries (except America obviously) but mostly Canadian or Cuban. The compare did his best at speaking multiple languages but always sounded like a Eurovision host “hola señoras y señores, y bienvenidos una vez más para entretenimiento de nuestros noche maravillosa y espectacular es, Damen und Herren und herzlich willkommen noch einmal auf unsere wunderbare Abendunterhaltung, welcome enjoy”.

In most Caribbean islands subjected to Reggae but in Cuba it is a rich mix of Latin music. I had not appreciated there were so many types of Latin music – Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Meriachi, Mambo etc all with their own particular dance. I still can’t recognise each type of music until the dancing starts.

At the start of the holiday hurricane Irene over the Bahamas meant that all diving was diverted to the South of the island in the Bay of Pigs area. This was a three hour drive away and the dive was not worth the journey. Fortunately Irene ran out of puff and the diving continued in Varadero. It’s not spectacular diving in Cuba, and not at all as good as other Caribbean islands, but in 30 degrees Celsius water temperature and unlimited visibility it’s a lot more enjoyable than diving in the UK. The reefs were in good condition and there was plenty of regular Caribbean fish including Lion fish, Trumpet Fish, Trunk Fish, Parrot Fish, Butterfly Fish, Blue Chromis and Barracuda. Occasionally we spotted the more interesting sealife such as Stingrays, Porcupine Fish, Stone fish, Lobster, Spider Crabs and Moray Eel, but there were few and far between.

Los Henrico