Back from Cuba…and off to Tough Mudder Minnesota

Well, things have been busy to say the least. I’m going to do my best to summarize all the major goings-on before I head out of town again, but I’m sure I’ll end up leaving things out.

I was recently invited to work with the Canada Games men’s volleyball team during their training camp in Havana, Cuba. This was one of the most enjoyable trips and rewarding experiences I’ve had in a long time. This team is great, both the players and the coaches. After a long day of travel, we arrived in Havana (actually Santa Maria del Mar, a local vacation spot just outside of Havana) around midnight on July 4th. We were promptly greeted at the hotel with the most mediocre sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. We all quickly checked in were eager to get to bed and grab some sleep.

7am alarm. After crawling out of bed, I opened the curtains and woke up to this.

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After meeting with the team for breakfast in the hotel dining area, we head out to the 1991 Pan-Am Games volleyball facility. Now this place had serious character. In the hot, humid air, we all sauntered into this worn down, open-air building where countless tropical birds and insects had made up their nests. A large mural of Che looked over the courts at one end, and the Cuban Pan-Am Games symbol overlooked at the other. The floor on the court was rough. Boards were warped and popping up in places, and there was virtually no polish applied to the boards at all; just what was left from the original 1991 coat. It’s amazing to think that this was the facility the Cubans, whose senior men are ranked 6th in the world, had been training in.

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So this is where we spent every morning for the rest of the week. These guys trained hard and played hard, and it paid off, as they beat the Cuban Junior National team in a scrimmage after only a few days of training.

We also had some time to tour Havana and the surrounding area.

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And, yeah, the beaches weren’t too shabby either.

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As luck would have it, Cuba was playing Iran in FIVB World League in Havana on one of our nights off, so we took that in too. Quite the experience as you might imagine.

IMG_1914 IMG_1923A raging thunderstorm that only the tropics could produce made the drive back from the game a challenge. We were literally driving up a river at one point. Even our tour guide was freaking out a bit.

There’s more to come on the Cuba trip…but for now, I’m off to crush this TM beast in Minnesota.

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