Cuba.....na Na Na Na Na Salsa

By: Alice

I know there is some old saying to do with the first half of your life you are looked after by your parents and the second half you your life you look after your parents. Well I've been looking after my mother my whole life especially on occasions when my father isn't around and she goes into complete competency melt down. The first time my dad went on a business trip abroad, she managed (and don't ask me how) to put her hand in the bottom of the lawn mower whilst it was still running. I can still see, and will forever have imprinted in to my brain the moment when she shoved her hand in a sink full of water which instantaneously turned a deep shade of red, a bit like in the movie 'Jaws'. Duggan women aren't of a strong stomached nature and on my mother passing out, my sister ran out of the room with the good intension of phoning a family friend from down the road for help, only to pass out on the way due to "sight of blood". So you are left with nine year old Alice running between relations with wet towels and sugar water trying to revive both. Needless to say I was rewarded on my Dad's return from Hong Kong with a big bag of Haribo for being 'daddy's brave little girl' and my mother was never allowed to mow the lawn again.

So this gives you an idea of the mental status of Mrs Duggan when embarking on a journey in to the depths of the Caribbean with her least responsible daughter, without the only man in the world that can salvage any situation no mater how dire. I'd like to say I was sympathetic towards this but in honesty if I see weakness in some one I kinda play on it? "You've got the passports right?", "Flight IS from Gatwick not Heathrow right?" etc.. Cruel really, but highly amusing. Anyhow the joke was on me on arriving at Gatwick at 4.30am to find that our 07.55am flight to Havana with Cubana airways was not anywhere to be seen on the board, and after half an hour frantic running around to discover that the plane on which we were meant to be flying on (that was meant to arrive in the UK at 6.20am from Havana) had not even left Cuba yet. Another half an hour later it was revealed that the plane was faulty and another plane was being shipped in from Madrid and due to leave at 2.30pm. Marvellous. Anybody got any great suggestions how to spend 9 hours in Gatwick airport departures? No me either. Reading maybe - well I cleverly packed all my nice easy going books in my main luggage and was carrying only Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, trying to embrace the whole Cuba thing, which is not the easiest read to pass time, believe me. So giving in I bought a puzzler, plugged my ipod in and watched the weird and wonderful existence of the airport departure lounge inhabitant (and it is no wonder they make so many tv shows about them!)

Well the plane didn't go at 2.30, it went at 4.30 and you'd think maybe after the hell my now extended family of Cubana airways victims had been through, we would be treated like movie stars, pampered with drinks and nibbles, checked on at ever available moment. Well you would think wrong and must be alerted to the fact that the communist regime demands Cubans all work, for more or less the same wage, and are in no danger of losing there jobs.....so where is the incentive to do their job well, especially when surrounded by hundreds of high maintenance tourists?! Anyways the plane had no entertainment, seating was a free for all, the staff were rude to the point of disbelief, there was a fucking annoying group of school kids among which were two blossoming lovers sat in front of me who snogged for the WHOLE 11 hour journey, and, as I had banished any hope of a vegetarian meal, no food. Gosh I sound like my grandma moaning. Still I console myself in the fact that the money spent on the flights went in to the Cuban economy and the not the pocket of that cunt Branson.
Anyways with plenty of time on my hand I though it was about time I tackled the lonely planets guide "A brief history of Cuba". And so the obsession began.....

Hands up, I knew very little about the Cuban culture/history before I went ("They're communists, right?") and generally have no interest in learning about history of places. A few years back I spent a month travelling in Japan with two of my bestest friends, one who was living out there for a few years. We had a great time, however both being History(ish) students I can imagine my "You've seen one temple you've seen them all, lets go do Karaoke again" mentality grated a bit. I figured I would be the same in Cuba... "yes yes very nice now lets go dance salsa and drink rum!" Unfortunately, I don't know if I'm getting older and this is what happens, but I'm absolutely fascinated by the whole shebang.
So as I say all I knew was they were communists and that recently some dude called Castro had stepped down. I was concerned that this may cause mayhem and riots but was assured by work colleagues that caribbeaners(?!) are far to busy drinking rum and smoking cigars to get all worked up about stuff, and as long as the yanks stayed away there was unlikely to be any civil unrest (and I would hope that the yanks had f*cked up enough countries in the last few years to stay away, at least until I had got a sun tan).
Reading the guide helped set the scene for me so I jotted down a little summary of events as I saw them:

-Native Cubans all lived happily
-Natives of another Caribbean island arrive, kill all the native Cubans and live happily
-Spanish turn up and fuck things up - killing loads and using the rest for slaves
-400 years later Jose Marti leads a revolution to get freed from the Spaniards and the USA step in last minute and steal the glory
-USA REALLY fuck things up
-A group of rude boys (inc. Castro and Che Guavara) plot to over throw the Americans and some dick Batista, and trampled them freeing Cuban residents giving them the 'ideal' existence
-To piss of the US, Russia keep Cuba alive by buying lots of sugar and cigars
- Russia (or I should say the USSR) fucks up (greedy bastards) and Cuba gets screwed over and people are starving
- They start letting in lots of snappy happy tourists (such as myself) to take all their money so they can eat again.

So you can see why I gave up history at the 1st available moment!
Anyways back to the long gruelling flight.....we eventually got off that blasted craft about 1am Cuban time (5am English) due to a rather extended drop off in Holguin, and rushed through visa check and baggage which took us in to arrivals about 2am....
So first thought is will our transfer be there seeing we were meant to arrive at 4pm? On first inspection no, but after half an hour panic we deduced that our company we booked with has two names - how fucking stupid of us! So we taxied off in to Havana praying our hotel had 24hr reception. Unfortunately I didn't get to see much of the city on the drive as planned being 3am but at least we were on our way. Getting closer to the hotel I started getting a nauseous feeling which is far too familiar with me now being in a city at night, stemming from a nasty incident in Barcelona a few years back (and yes the story gets more elaborate each time it is told - they had knives you know, did I say knives? I meant guns). So I wasn't all best pleased when I found out our taxi couldn't drive down the street our hotel was on and intended to leave us at the end of it. A few pesos (I'll explain money later) encouraged him to wait while mother dear (entirely unfazed by this) ran up the road to check it was open. Halle-fucking-lujah it was. Almost kissing the cab driver I popped on my backpack and headed up the road to the lovely "Beltran de Santa Cruz" Hotel.

So being greeted with a smile by the receptionist he then blurts out "There is a bit of a problem with your room, the plumbing has broken and we have had to relocate you to another hotel, it is only just 5 minutes round the corner across the square"

What point would you snap? Honestly? I snapped here. "Look buddy, We've been up for 30 hours, 13 of these spend in fucking Gatwick airport, 13 on a fucking aeroplane fresh out of Bedrock and the rest in transit between these places, we haven't eaten, we haven't changed out underwear, we haven't cleaned our teeth, and we smell like dead fucking rats and you are trying to tell me that you are going to make 2 poor helpless women lug there baggage across a city unknown to them at 4am in the morning to go to a hotel because you have a fucking plumbing problem?"
At least that is what was being said in my head...what I actually said, in a very weak and feeble whine "Please will you come with us, I'm scared". And bless his cottons he did.
Eventually my head touched a pillow at 5.30am Cuba time (9.30am English) after dealing with the final disaster of the night that on opening my rucksack I found my suncream had exploded all over my stuff. A perfect start to a holiday wouldn't you agree? Things could only get better.

I guess maybe I should actually tell you something about my trip instead of my script from "Holidays from hell".

This was my first and most definitely not last trip to the Caribbean. I think I was about 8 when I bought "100% reggae" and decided that I would spend my honeymoon in Jamaica, so I hope I will again reach these shores, given I can find someone who will marry me. Plus there are so many other places to visit, St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Bahamas etc etc...Lets hope this future husband is rich! Cuba, however seems to have something different to the rest and walking out in to the sunny streets of Havana that first morning confirmed this. The Cubana airways big day out suddenly seemed a distant memory. Breath taking architecture ranging from the Spanish colonial style buildings in old Havana, (many completely derelict, but in a funky way!), to neo classical in the vedado district and art deco American influence in central Havana. Diversity that I have never seen in any city, and with the added benefit that unlike most cities they have avoided shoving eyesore 1970s tower blocks dead in the centre of some beautiful area. Any run down ugly buildings just added to the character.
It isn't a cliche that there are bands playing at every restaurant, on every street corner with people singing and dancing around. Its true, I was there. The first pit stop was at il Patio restaurant in Cathedral square (possibly my favourite mojito of the whole holiday, though there were many and the 1st is bound to taste best!). There was a little 3 piece band playing (guitar, sax and bass) while some nut case woman danced around (mum said she had been there 2 years ago when her and my sister had gone!). They were awesome, I just couldn't get enough of it! Then this guy from the crowd (Italian I think) just waltzed up, asked to have a go on the sax and just wiped the floor with some improvisation which put anything I ever managed when I played in to a remedial category. That wouldn't happen anywhere else in the world and the punters went mad for it!

So the first day was mostly spent getting a feel for the place. Walking around getting lost, stopping for mojitos every now and again taking several thousand of photos at every new street at every possible angle. In the afternoon we did (on recommendation by some friends) a ferry trip across to the other side of the water to climb up to a fort (and a MASSIVE statue of Jesus). It was really fun actually as this clearly wasn't a main tourist attraction and the ferry seemed to be literally the locals bus to and from work. We stuck out like sore thumbs! Also at the top of our little trek we discovered not only amazing views of Havana but also a mini museum of Che Guavara's house where he lived post revolution and pre him running off to help Bolivia and get himself killed. Here I discovered he had asthma, just like me, which briefly inspired me to go and start a revolution, but I soon got over it.
Food in Cuba is shit, I mean really shit. I don't actually understand how they can get it so wrong, but they do and especially as a vegetarian we were screwed. You get eggs, lots of eggs, so many eggs that the word is still making me feel physically sick. Mother, having been here before knew all this so had packed a kettle and a big bag of cous cous to help us in dire situations, but had also brilliantly worked out the whereabouts of the only Italian restaurant (possibly in the whole of Cuba) so in Havana at least we managed to get half decent meals! So after munching our way through a big margarita and one more quick mojito we scooted off to bed pretty early, still kinda fucked from the previous days monstrosities.

The second day was one massive lecture on politics and history for me. Though normally this concept would make me shudder with fear and despair, as I said before I'm utterly gripped by the fact that this teeny little spec on the earth's surface has contributed so much to the history of the human race. We had a bit of fun first though getting a taxi ride to the Plaza de la Revolucion in a classic, bright purple (my favourite!) 1950s Buick with a rather bemused driver being made to pose for many a cheesy snap! The Plaza is kinda bare unfortunately with only 2 things to see. Firstly the Jose Marti memorial statue in front of the massive lookout, which we went up to get some awesome views across the city and watch lots of scary turkey vultures circle around it. And secondly my favourite bit - the huge Che image on the side of the government building with 'Hasta la Victoria Siempre' (Forever Onwards Towards Victory) written along side. I have a bit of a Che obsession to be honest, is it weird to think he was hot? Anyways bare as it was it felt pretty cool to be standing where so many political rallies and addresses from Castro and other revolutionaries has taken place.

After this we got a bug taxi (look at pics) to the hotel nationale (very posh!). It was so funny watching so many people turn up in mercs and swish cars and we turn up in a little yellow blob! Here we had a mojito looking out across the water to where we had been the previous day and then set off on quite a bit walk down the sea front where we finally ended up at the Museum of the Revolution. Here contained everything you would ever need to know about Cuba from the dawn of time. At some point it was really quite bizarre how much detail they added - "Here is the spoon Castro used whilst hiding in Argentina" - no joke! But it was fascinating. I won't bother saying much about it (as I've already given you my brief history of Cuba) but one of the highlights was the "Wall of Cretins" thanking various political idiots for their input in causing/consolidating the revolution. They really don't give a shit who they insult!

The next day we had rather a stressful bus journey (6 hours - 1 toilet stop) to a supposed beautiful, friendly colonial town though on first impressions this didn't seem to be the case. The bus ride in showed some really quite nasty, run down areas lacking in the Havana charm, and on arrival into the bus station crowds of people were literally being restrained from mobbing us. They were advertising there "casas" - equivalent to hostelling in Cuba is to stay in casas with a Cuban family who cook and provide for you, but it all seemed all to threatening for me. So we jumped in a cab and headed for our hotel 'Las Cuevas' (the caves). Any doubts about the next few days in this place were soon dissolved when we saw how lush where we were staying was!! We dumped our luggage and were straight to poolside sampling the local delicacies - mojitos, pina colladas, and rather bizarre red, orange and blue drinks called Trinidad Colonials, which I took a liking to. We managed to befriend a group of locals in no time who were feeding us more rum and nibbles and giving us salsa lessons. I was pretty pro already after my set of classes I went to in my "I'm sad, lonely and desperate and need to learn salsa to meet more sad lonely and desperate people phase", but I did learn a new step which was nice. Plus got a chance to laugh at my completely uncoordinated mother. Then at about 5pm, in a matter of 3 minutes the sky was covered in thick black clouds and the heavens opened. I've never been in a tropical storm before and I just found it absolutely hilarious - the whole area was flooded after 2 mins of rain, yet it is still bloody boiling and people were still dancing and in the pool! I asked my new best friend Tiago how long these storms usually last to which he replied "That is up to St Peter" - can't argue with that!

For our first full day in Trinidad we got up bright and early and put on our sexy walking gear and headed off into the mountains on a hike with another unfairly beautiful couple from the hotel and our lovely little tour guide Jordan, who kinda sounded like Borat when he talked which was a tad off putting but you got used to it!
The first part was walking through Trinidad centre which was a lot nicer than it had seemed from the bus the day before - lovely and colourful, with people all going about there everyday business or hanging about in there door ways, playing the guitar or selling fresh fruit. The second bit took us across some fields in to the national park in the thick jungle like mountains. We hiked for about two hours ending up eventually at a gorgeous waterfall and water reserve where Cuban kids were jumping in and playing. I abstained as always when is comes to water that may contain living things. Though I did dip my feet in and noticed a huge lobster like nasty thing crawling around on the bottom and concluded that I had made the right decision.
The hike back was not as fun. The midday heat had really hit in and Trinidad town is located on top of a hill and our hotel on top of a hill on that hill and energy levels were most definitely low by the end. Still we had an afternoon once again of cocktails by the pool and salsa dancing so can't complain! This evening after dinner (hotel buffet slop) we were treated to an Afro-Caribbean traditional show. 4 uber hot black dudes pranced around stage doing crazy things like eating hot coal and picking up tables with their teeth. It was rather erotic and I may have left a little puddle on my seat.

Next day was our last day in Trinidad town as we were heading that evening to the Ancon Peninsula, about 30 mins south of Trinidad on the coast. Still we made the most of the morning in the hotel. It was actually called Las Cuevas for a reason and (as you probably guessed) this is because it was situated above a group of caves. One of which is open for tours during the day and very funkily becomes a night club by night (though we never went to this unfortunately). So my little buddy Tiago took us on a tour of it which was just amazing! Stalagmites and stalactites to your hearts content - could just imaging people salsaing around them! He he!
After this it was a bit more pool but, as seemed to be the pattern here, late afternoon St Peter pissed on us so we decided we may as well transfer to the new place while the weather was crappy. So off we went through town (which at this point resembled a river) and down to the coast for a few days of sunbathing and chilling. Arriving at the place it seemed nice enough but being an all-inclusive had a rather different clientele, namely idiotic, drunk, burnt Brits. Well I only saw one of these to be honest, a 50ish year old fat northerner who was being rude to a bar man, but it just really got me annoyed. I just don't understand these people who just want to go on holiday to not actually experience anything of the country, treat the staff like slaves, and abuse the unlimited available alcohol. Anyways we checked in and had an explore and felt pretty disappointed to find that the 'beach' didn't actually really exist- well there was a patch of sand but it didn't extend to the sea. Compared to our last place it just all seemed a bit, well seedy. The sun wasn't quite back out so we camped at the pool bar and had a few drinks. My mum, sensing that it wasn't quite perfect, and of a far too sensitive nature decided to drink a few to many pinas and start really getting on my tits by being over enthusiastic about the place "I'm really warming to this place Alice, I'm really warming to it. Yes, I'm definitely warming to this place".....then declared she wanted to swim in the ocean before dinner. So in a drastic mother/daughter roll reversal I was trying my best to, in the least patronising way possible explain that to throw herself off a small cliff edge to get to the sea when she was pissed as a fart was possibly not the best idea. Needless to say a combination of her being drunk and over emotional, and me still being a bit wound up and beginning to feel a bit ill culminated in us having our only argument of the holiday involving lots of "I'm just an embarrassment to you" and "I've booked us a rubbish holiday I bet you wish you were with your friends" comments......not enjoyable. Especially not enjoyable as the me beginning to feel sick actually turned out to be food poisoning and I spent the next 12 hours on the loo simultaneously pissing out of my arsehole and vomiting. Not the highlight of my holiday.

But a new day dawned. Feeling rather weakened from my night in the shitter I abstained from breakfast (if I saw a plate of eggs I don't know what would have happened) but walking around I suddenly realised what an over reaction the previous day had been. The place was gorgeous. There wasn't any drunk English people at all - just that one who was only kicking off because they refused to serve him (quite rightly so - the cunt) and even better than that we found the proper beach! A gorgeous little practically deserted beach with a tiny bar behind it and a semi circle of rocks about 100m out where, according to mum, was the best collection of tropical fish she had ever seen. It was perfect for me to whack my ipod on, indulge in a brilliant book (not Hemingway!) and recuperate from my traumatic night, whilst my overly excitable mother swam, and befriended any body who came within 10 feet of us. Much better!
The next day we took advantage of the hotel free bikes and went on a bike ride down through the peninsula. I haven't been on a bike ride since I was about 10 and after this I just don't know why?! It was such fun! Admittedly a bike ride surrounded by sea on both sides on a road lined with palm trees is a lot more appealing than cycling down the A413 but it really should be done more often!! We stopped off on the tip of the peninsula where there was a hotel and mum jetted off on a boat trip to do some snorkelling on the reef (I obviously didn't - I'm not going to go in to my fear of the sea here - you'll only mock me) and I had a chance to improve on my 'getting stupid now' tan (apparently those last 2 years working in suncare hasn't really changed my opinion on skin cancer).

We had one more morning on the beach after this before our transfer back to Havana which I was actually ready for by this point. Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with being sun tanned but this whole "culture" malarkey had really got to me and I was itching to get back to Havana and learn more! At the end of the day I could get a sun tan in Lanzagrotty if I wanted for a tenth of the price (with the added benefit of picking up a few STIs), and my tan was pretty much perfect by then anyway (if I don't mind being incredibly arrogant!)
The bus journey back was even more of a fucking nightmare than the way there. 2 hours longer than it should have been, over booked (so people were standing), road closures etc etc. Plus when we got to Havana we were so late that there were no taxis at the bus station to take us to a hotel, and it was bloody raining again! After pretty much every other person on the bus had managed to hail a cab (we need to be more pushy!) we eventually got back to the lovely Beltran and had a gourmet meal of cous cous prepared en suite and settled down to bed ready to make the most of our last day.

The next morning Havana all of a sudden seemed 100 times more amazing than it was when I was there 9 days prior (and it was a pretty amazing then). Just mooching around I suddenly got that horrible "By 5pm this evening this is all going to be over" feeling. And I wasn't ready for it. Trying not to let it detract, we walked through the beautiful streets of old Havana through cathedral square where we had that first life changing mojito, and on to the sea front where we decided it was time to tackle the hustle and bustle of the markets and buy some pressies and tacky souveniers, a Che Guavara beret being the most important, of course. Then we went on to find firstly a new discovery which was a street which appeared in ALL the paintings of Havana which were on sale in the market. This was a street with a sign hanging down saying "La Bodeguito del Medio" which turned out to be a tiny little bar where Hemingway used to hang out and it seemed many other celebs had been there too as the wall was covered in pictures and signatures. This took us on nicely to our next planned point of call. The Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Hemingway stayed when he was visiting. They have preserved his room exactly how he had it when he stayed and you can look round it. Also the roof of this hotel has a bar so we went up there and whiled away the rest of our afternoon having a few drinks up there, soaking up the city sunshine with fabulous views and lovely company.

On our walk back to the hotel to catch our transfer something occurred to me. These were streets of a capital city and there were people sitting in there doorways nattering, people playing guitars and others dancing and singing around, kids playing baseball, women hanging their washing out there windows. This wouldn't happen anywhere else, ever. Can you imagine walking through London chatting to people, dancing with them, children playing? I bet 99% of Londoners don't even know there next door neighbour's names! And this was communism - everyone equal, everyone working as a team, no greed, no corruption, a real community. And I thought 'I could do this' - I could live in an 'ideal' world possibly I'd prefer the countryside - where the houses each have a chicken and a plot of land to grow veg. But I could really live like that. I've always been against people earning more money than is conceivable doing satanic jobs, effectively only making money by screwing other people over - bankers, lawyers etc. And I've been against the situation you are born in to reflecting how far you can make it in life (I know it isn't meant to be like this but it is). And I love the ideal. Everyone gets the same, provided they work, whatever they do and as a benefit receive a perfect education system, perfect national health service, a perfect everything government run and a complete sense of patriotism. Real patriotism - not just beating up other nation's football fans patriotism.
I started thinking about England and wondering why I wanted to stay living here. A country where our so called "left wing" prime minister (who apparently is Gordon Brown now, not Tony Blair anymore) spends ?2000 of the British tax payers money per year on cleaners for his stupid amount of houses also paid for by the state. And where white trash Vicky Pollards with 10 babies leak money out of the welfare state whilst moaning about the "bloody asians and poles - they come over here taking our jobs and tax money". They fucking pay tax so why shouldn't they be entitled to it? I'd rather they got it than the fat arse Keith Millers of the world. It is disgusting really and I don't want to be a part of it.

But of course Cuba doesn't have the ideal. The dream is there and I think it probably worked before the eastern block dissolved, but then again if they can't really support themselves as a single unit then communism fails doesn't it.
Personally I think one of the major problems as to why things aren't working as well as they should stems from tourism. Admittedly it saved the country from starvation but it has created no end of issues and seemingly split the people in to two personality types. Type one are mainly the older generation, still very much pro-Castro. These remember and appreciate that they lived well post revolution, pre special period (between the fall of the eastern block and start of tourism), and also appreciate that the tourists saved their arses when things were looking pretty bleak. These people hence treat tourists with gratitude, respect and kindness. The second type, what I'm calling the 'next' generation of Cubans, seem to be much more cynical and unsure what they get is really 'fair'. These people are really quite resentful of tourists often to the point they are just plain rude (turning their backs, shooing away etc). I think the problem is as they are unaware of what life was like before. All they see is these rich idiots, with their snazzy clothes, flash digital cameras and disposable cash to throw about, travelling around seeing all different cultures and places. Everything they can't have and what they could have if things were different. I suppose it would piss me off.

Another massive problem with letting tourists in is the discrepancy in what people earn depending on whether they work in the tourist industry or not. Money is a bit complex but Cuba has two currencies - local pesos and convertible pesos. Tourists are only eligible to use convertible pesos and each convertible peso is actually worth 10 Cuban pesos. So effectively if I were to go in to a shop and buy a bottle of water - this would cost me say 1cp (around 50p) and a cuban 1p (i.e around 5p). So effectively they are charging tourists ten times for everything which still always seems reasonable to us (2 mojitos tended to be around 5cp - ?2.50 - not bad!). This means when you tip someone in a bar, say 1cp - they are getting about ?5.00 worth out of it yet it is only costing you 50p. I think this is absolutely genius and I can't see why other countries haven't caught on. In Thailand why not charge ?5.00 for a meal instead of 50p?! Tourists will still pay ?5.00! However the people in tourist industry, with their tips, get much more disposable cash than anyone else which brings about inequality in the people - everything communism isn't. Take for example the scenario of the hiking trip we did in to the mountains in Trinidad. The cost of this was 7cp each so 14cp in total and seeing as our guide stayed with us from 9am-2pm in the blistering heat enthusiastically talking all the time, we had a 20cp note and told him to keep the change. So he got 6cp - ?3 to us, worth ?30. This makes you feel great as a tourist. Giving a tip of not that much value to you makes a huge different to the local's life. In fact their monthly salary is 300p so we actually tipped him a 5th of what he would earn in a month. Crazy really. However you think of all the doctors and teachers etc who slave their arses off and don't see anything of the sort coming their way. Where is the incentive to work then? This isn't fair and is where the system really breaks down. You could definitely feel a certain civil unrest and I reckon especially now as Castro has stepped down, big changes are afoot. I guess if you were thinking of going I'd recommend going asap. (Hark at me making political predictions when 2 weeks ago I didn't even know what communism really meant!)

Anyways enough politics and back to reality. Damn I wish I could but I'm hooked! Six months ago, to spend all my time googling Che Guavara and 'communism for dummies' or writing ridiculously long blogs that no-one will read (except maybe Sam - and even he will probably have got bored by now), would have been fine as I had nout better else to do. However right now I do, like revise for these bastard exams, and this new found obsession is greatly reducing the productivity stakes!

All in all the holiday (which is what it was at the end of the day) was a big success. I'd love to go back there and see and do more of it, and like so many places I've been I say I will one day. But then I realise that to go back to somewhere I have already been means sacrificing going somewhere new which I can get momentarily obsessed with until the next place.....etc etc.

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