I am back from vacation. This is the first vacation where we have gone for 7 days and I can tell you, I notice the difference. When you have 10 days or 2 weeks, you truly unplug. With 7 days, I never really wound down .. mental note.
We went to Cuba for the 2nd time and it seems that traveling to Cuba is full of myths. So, as my duty, a few myths busted:
1. The army is everywhere with guns. Nope. In fact, I saw a single policeman, he was setting up a speed trap (It is the same everywhere. Basta!)
2. You cannot take electronics. Nope. They will not allow in large items (Like a full size DVD player) or certain communications devices (Satellite phones, walkie talkies). However, if it is a personal electronic item (laptop, DVD player, gameboy) .. no problem. This is a real point of confusion, I have heard time and time again that they confiscate these things to prevent them from going to the black market. Wrong. You can take them. We did not .. because we were busy hanging on the beach. But many people around us did …
3. They do not have access to medicine or common things like shampoo. Again .. no. While they do appreciate these things (Because it means they don’t have to spend money on it locally), they would rather that tourists brought them cool things that they cannot get. Designer cloths, a cool Titleist hat … things like that. They have access to it at a low rate, as the government provides … but they don’t make alot of money.
4. If your passport is stamped Cuba, you will get stopped by US immigration. No again. In fact, I have been twice, and the Cubans did NOT stamp my passport once. I just noticed this today as I was curious what it looked like .. and there were no Cuba markings.
What is true?
1. They do make a pittance. 30 pesos per month ($40 CDN roughly) was the going rate at the hotel and everyone (Well, I am sure not everyone) makes the same. But, everyone has a roof, they can all go to University at no cost (If you don’t, you get a stint in the army), they are very proud to note that no children are on the streets (Unlike Mexico, I did not see 5 year old kids out selling Chiclets at 11PM at night), there are no drugs (Wonder what a Cuban jail looks like?) and crime is quite low (A woman we were speaking with said the biggest crime is the crime of passion over a jilted lover).
2. The beaches are the nicest in the south – that is for SURE. Better than Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican. White sand. Great weather. As the tide heads out, you can walk out 200 .. 300 meters. Love the beaches.
3. The food sucks – or is at best, mediocre (Although, the seafood is GREAT). The nation does not have the access to the same fresh fruit imports that other countries have (Don’t know why ..), but the food is not great.
4. The people are very nice, and it seems VERY safe. I have never had a problem .. and unlike Jamaica, Mexico and Dominican, there are zero people bothering you on the beach, trying to sell you stuff.
I have to tell you, I wonder if Communism or socialism (As Fidel calls it) is not the right approach for Cuba? Go to Mexico or Dominican, the ‘free and democratic’ workers make the same crappy wages with no social system to support them (no health or education system in place to take care of the poor, that is for sure). It is my humble opinion that the Cubans that I have met are very happy .. while the Dominican’s I met were not .. that is for sure.
A topic for another blog.

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY? Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (archive)

I finally purchased on of my favorite movies on DVD: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990). The movie follows the lives of two minor characters as the flit in and out of scenes during the play Hamlet. It is an incredibly witty movie with a great cast: Richard Dryfus, Gary Oldman and Tim Roth.
I have two favorite scenes (Although, the movie (Which was a play) is full of great scenes .. BUT BE WARNED: if you are looking for a Mr. Bean type of slapstick evening, pass now. This movie/play is monty pythonish – you must listen very closely. Plus, don’t get me started on Mr. Bean. Rowan may have become famous because of it, but after watching his brilliant early work as Black Adder .. I could not stomach the dumb-downed humour. The first scene I love is this …
Guildenstern: What’s the first thing you remember?
Rosencrantz: [thinks] No, it’s no good. It was a long time ago.
Guildenstern: No, you don’t take my meaning. What’s the first thing you remember after all the things you’ve forgotten?
Rosencrantz: Oh, I see… I’ve forgotten the question.
It is a very interesting question – and exercise. My best recollection of a first memory is crying as I walked down the hill to catch the bus, on my own, during my first week of kindergarten. I did not want to go (Everyone else got to stay home).
The second, when they play the game ‘Questions’:
Guildenstern: Whose serve?
Rosencrantz: Err…
Guildenstern: Hesitation! Love… one.
Rosencrantz: Whose go?
Guildenstern: Why?
Rosencrantz: Why not?
Guildenstern: What for?
Rosencrantz: Foul! No synonyms! One… all.
Guildenstern: What in God’s name is going on?
Rosencrantz: Foul! No rhetoric! Two… one.
Guildenstern: What does it all add up to?
Rosencrantz: Can’t you guess?
Guildenstern: Were you addressing me?
Rosencrantz: Is there anyone else?
Guildenstern: Who?
Rosencrantz: How would I know?
Guildenstern: Why do you ask?
Rosencrantz: Are you serious?
Guildenstern: Was that rhetoric?
Rosencrantz: No.
Guildenstern: Statement! Two all. Game point.
For the review: A worth addition to the DVD collection.