HOLGUIN, CUBA, Feb 2009
By Nicolas Lakoff
© Copyright 2007-2017
After my last trip to Cayo Coco, Karen and I stayed in touch by email, her being in Toronto and me being in Montreal. She enjoyed diving with me so much that she started suggesting that we book a diving trip together. Of course it didn’t take much to convince me to go for it. She and I could only get away for a week so we started looking for a Cuban destination separately and see what we would come up with.
She loves using the internet to shop or book her trips and being Chinese is always looking for a bargain even though there might not be one offered. I on the other hand have had the same travel agent for some time. Martine owns with her husband two agency’s called Voyages la rose des vents and is a top professional in her field. I’ve never had a problem with any of my trip and she always finds me the best deals. I was inclined to go back to Santa Lucia, even staying an extra week after Karen had to leave. She on the other hand was sold on going to Holguin also on the north coast of Cuba. Of course this decision was rather more expensive than my option! For the price I paid to stay one week in Holguin I could have stayed two weeks in Santa Lucia. We decided to stay at the Gaviota Playa Costa Verde. I have to say that the resort was probably the best I’ve stayed at in Cuba. Written up as a 4 star hotel, I have to say that I agree. The staff was great, the food excellent and of great variety and the many restaurants were also excellent including a Japanese restaurant serving grilled dishes and sushi. The grounds are beautiful and well laid out, there are many outdoor bars and café. So for the extra money, you really do get the extra perks. Since I am not very difficult when it comes to these things it didn’t make much of a difference for me but for Karen who is a vegetarian it made all the difference. Here she got a variety of dishes that catered to her diet.
The first day I did something very stupid that caused me great discomfort for the rest of the trip and taught me an important lesson. The dive shop for this area was near the Blau Playa Verde which was a short walk from where we were. In addition to using 1 kilo lead weights they also have 2 kilo weights which I had not seen before in any dive shop. Since I require 10 kilos average on my dives this was particularly convenient for me since it allowed me not to have a weight belt in addition to weights in my integrated pockets in my BCD. Over the years I had seen instructors throw their rigs over top their head to don them. I decided to do the same in an instant of childish stupidity. What I didn’t realise was that one of my integrated pockets was not fully closed and one of the 2 kilo weights landed directly on my left foot. Luckily I was wearing my booties but it still hurt like a son of a gun. It started swelling and there was a bump but I simply figured that I had badly bruised it and did nothing permanent. I could still walk on it although hobbling a bit. I also figured that the cool water would help the pain go away. After the first two dives I realised that I had probably done something more than just a bruise. I realised that I probably had broken a bone. When I was not diving I had a bad of ice on my foot pretty constantly and I luckily had a bottle of Advil extra strength that helped with the pain and the swelling. Being very stubborn and having just arrived I decided to trooper on and was able to complete 10 more dives till it was time to call it a day and fly home. So in a sense I was lucky in my unluckiness.
Of course because most of the time out of water I was laid up icing my foot, I didn’t get around to taking pictures of the resort or the dive center. I also didn’t get much of a chance to bond with the diving staff there since I was dealing with quite a bit of discomfort even for me.
Diving in Holguin is excellent although I wasn’t as lucky taking pictures as I am normally. Karen and I were often dive buddies and she started getting quite good at pointing things out of interest for me to take pictures of.
Once she spotted a Scorpionfish in full camouflage; very difficult to spot. As we dove more and more together she got more and more proficient at being my spotter. I’ve noticed her diving skills have improved greatly since our last dives together in Cayo Coco.
On her trip to Cayo Coco one of her chief complaints was that she was often cold once in the water. This prompted her obsession to find herself a full 3 mm suit online. Finally when we met up in Holguin she was immensely proud of how much she saved buying her Mares neoprene suit online! Of course now she’s obsessing about buying a diving camera. I have to say although I’m already crazy about diving, her enthusiasms is infectious. Many of our online discussions prior to this trip had been on how she thought I should become an instructor and I have to admit the idea is growing on me.
Since we were only here for a week and the weather was good enough for us to dive every day I didn’t even consider doing any excursions outside the resort. The nearest town Holguin is an hour and a half away and you had to leave in the morning and neither Karen nor I wanted to waste one day not diving.
One thing that has changed in my photography in the past couple of years is the number of pictures I take back with me from every trip. It wasn’t unusual for me to come back with 2 to 3 thousand pictures before but now I find that I am more selective in what I decide to shoot. On my last dive just as I had to come back up to the surface I spotted a Whitespotted Filefish. Although I was severely tempted to go back down for more, I decided the better of it and leave it till the next time I was in the ocean. One thing I’m still struggling with is my macro photography but I feel that it might be my cameras limitations that are the cause. I took a picture of Blenny that was holed up in a hole in the center of star coral. Only one picture turned out and I was very frustrated at the results. I definitely have to try to resolve this problem before my next dive.