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CUBA-TRIP REPORT- Havana and Veradero August/September 2019

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean and Bermuda' started by Jayfarmlaw, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada Solo Diver Staff Member

    I meant to explain that it also happened along the walkways at the resort and little groups of tourist people of other cultures, speaking either Spanish or Italian :wink:, would stand and block the walkway. They didn't make way even if you said excuse me, excuse, permission. . . .lol. we found it quite funny for the most part. Chaos at the reception desk, not so much and now that you remind me about the airport, yes, that was insane. M6 friend and I had been not to far from the checkin desk at first but eventually we were dead last. That's what being a "nice" Canadian gets ya. :giggle:
  2. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Improved it for you.

    I completely agree, though. I find it very hard to understand Cubans. I think they do things like swallow certain letters, too. I had the same problem understanding people in South America. Some of the clearest Spanish speakers I have come across are Guatemalans, which may be why language schools have become a cottage industry there.

    I once encountered some pretty aggressive Russians at a hotel buffet (not in Cuba--the Russians were gone by the time I visited). They elbowed their way in and piled it on their plates like they hadn't eaten since the fall of communism. It occurs to me that we who come from countries with a queue etiquette--the idea of waiting one's turn--may be the minority in the world.
  3. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada Solo Diver Staff Member

    Yes, that's probably right, Lorenzoid.

    There's no end of pushing and shoving in Asian countries. Singapore has tried to keep a wrap on it but it still happens.
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  4. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    @Jayfarmlaw (As in good ole Jay...)
    I certainly enjoyed your very informative report on Cuba.

    I noticed you did not mention Cuban music which I have always enjoyed I have several friends who in the recent past visited Cuba - one group indicated they only heard music in hotels or at night clubs, others indicated Cuban music with its Afro-Cuban beat was heard everywhere.
    How about you and yours ? What was your impression of the music ?

    I attended a military academy and university with a number of Cubanos.
    Yes they speak Spanish at a machine gun rate-
    As contrast to the US where the farther south you travel the slower the speech whereas in Latino countries the farther south the fasted the speech patterns-- Then there is the Cubano ?

    Re Diving
    Unknown or possible forgotten by many Fidel Castro was a very avid diver/spearfisherman. Was there mention of him and his diving activities ? Or perhaps posters or brochures ?

    It was noted on the sign for the Russian ship indicated "ACUC." which was the very first and very active Canadian agency = American Canadian Underwater Council which predates many of the current dive certifying agencies including SSI. Since the death of the founder Bob Conkwright (S) some years ago I and most Americans were under the impression that ACUC had totally disappeared . Could ACUC be alive and well in Cuba ? Do you know the certifications of your guides ? I strongly suspect they were ACUC and not American, such as NAUI, PADI or SSI .

    My burning quested is did you see any of the reported 500 pound perch ? An inquiring Californian wants to know

    Keep up the good work and Keep on Diving....

    Cheers from California ... . where it all began

    Sam Miller, 111
    agilis likes this.
  5. Gene

    Gene Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    Thanks for this report. It was fun reading through it. As I mentioned in the other post, my wife and I first went to Cuba in 1993. My wife went back on a newspaper assignment in 94 and then we did a family trip this past Easter weekend with our extended family. We thoroughly enjoyed it and flew from Orlando to Havana. Lucky you to stay at the Hotel National! Be careful though about using government owned and ran facilities as that's what we're not supposed to do. (We stayed at a privately owned Air B and B in Old Havana.)
    We took in Euros to avoid the extra charge for changing dollars. As we like to do, we mostly explored around on foot or taxi just on our own. We did hit a few museums with the main art museum in Havana being one of the highlights along with the forts. No diving this trip but that Russian ship certainly sounds good....
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  6. agilis

    agilis Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: N.J.
    Interesting about Guatemalans. Colombians also have a reputation for excellent Spanish. In his brilliant and endlessly fascinating book about sea turtles, "So Excellent a Fishe", Archie Carr discusses linguistic differences he encountered during the return of tags to his university. He found the most elegant Spanish came from tags returned by Colombians.
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  7. grf88

    grf88 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    ACUC is still alive albeit on life support. Originally it was Association of Canadian Underwater Councils as different Provincial Underwater Councils got together. Several of these Provincial Underwater Councils are still active including Ontario Underwater Council (OUC)
    History | ACUC.
    Ayisha likes this.
  8. Jayfarmlaw

    Jayfarmlaw Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tuttle, Ok
    Cuban Music- We did spend one evening in a locally famous Jazz Club for a night of Cuban Jazz. One of my friends is a former jazz musician and was really excited about the evening. While there were several strikes against the evening to begin with..we are older, it had been a long day, it was LOUD, and again I'm 50 and the youngest by at least 10 years...but we saddled up, took our Geritol, had a Metamucil Mojito, cinched up our Depends, and even thought it was 2 hours past our geriatric bed time, went to the club. I like jazz and most other forms of music. The band was 2 drummers, a saxophone, a bass guitar, and a keyboard. Cuban Jazz just isn't my thing. It sounded like they were all playing a different song at the same time. It may have been great but it just wasn't for me. We left at about 11:30.

    There were roving mariachis at several restaurants but nothing sounded particularly Cuban, just more latino. There was a lady singing one night at the resort that could be the next Celine Dion, she was amazing but singing modern pop and latino music. I really cant comment on any specific Cuban music other than the jazz night.

    Fidel- There are picture of Fidel everywhere, including huge artistic depictions on the sides of buildings. Numerous billboards saying things like "Fidel is Cuba," Unity, Compromiso, Victory," "The party and the revolution are the same" etc. We did not see anything specific about Fidel and his diving activities. Aquatic life was limited. We did cut a sea turtle out of an illegal net on one dive. Turtle shells were all over the sea bed in the area. The only relatively large fish we saw was a grouper on the wreck...but no where near the 2600 pound behemoth that lies in wait off of Catalina Island to gobble up misbehaving divers....and lost killer whales.

    Certifications? We don't need no stinking certifications.... I didn't ask about certifications. I know after our 100 foot wreck dive, they said gear back up after about a 30 minute surface interval. My dive had me close to decompression stops and as a group we basically said we will splash after at least 45 minutes. The second dive was less than 30 feet deep so it was basically an extended safety stop so we probably would have been ok anyway. Based on their website, it looks like they teach SSI and ACUC.

    "Diving education: The education is done together with the students of the diving center Barracuda. Education is SSI + ACUC."

    BARRACUDA-Diving Centre Varadero Cuba-Diving

    I don't mean to sound negative about Cuba, I had a great time, but it was not my idea of a dive vacation. We will likely go back at some point next year to delve a little more into the historical aspects and maybe see more of the island. The dive op was adequate and the only game in town. Since it is govt. owned, I guess there is no competition, no bottom line to be concerned about, and no desire to be bigger and better. My dive standards are pretty low... they have to be to enjoy Oklahoma lake diving. I would dive Cuba again. I think the wrecks could make a difference as well. The Russian wreck was pretty special. A steel 120 and maybe a hung bottle would be the ticket on that wreck. Since we were a group of older divers of varying skill levels, we may have just gotten the cruise ship special too. Many of our group were happy to punch the "Dive Cuba" card, I would like to go back and see where the DM's prefer to dive.

    One week wasn't enough to make a permanent call. It's almost as cheap as Mexico, maybe cheaper once you get past the learning curve, and the same travel time for me. I'll add Havana to my list of airfares to check at 3 am when I cant sleep and when we catch a deal, I'm sure I will have another date with Havana Club 7 year Rum. I may even give Cuban Jazz another try.

    Say hello to the 2800 pound polka dotted wreck fish for me!!!

    drrich2 likes this.
  9. grf88

    grf88 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    You just have to come to Canada for the Havana Club 7 year old.
  10. Storker

    Storker Divemaster

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over

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