First impressions are all important and mine of Cuba weren’t exactly complimentary! Expecting the 5 degrees at night Id read somewhere was a little taken a back by the 21 degrees on landing. Yeah, so maybe the Boxing Day morning fleeting return visit to Bath was going to be unnecessary?! Thankfully no bus needed on arrival and we walked straight into the terminal to a room full of pissed off flyers faces who were clearly in the around turn flight out. It was warm, very warm and sticky.
First things first was passport control. Would they accept the visa and entry card with out The middle names written on it? Would I get a stamp in my passport? Would I get through in time to make it to the loo? The lady on the desk was fine, despite being convinced that I came from a flight from Africa (Cuba may be a landlocked island according to my boss but Madrid is a fair distance from Africa?!) and the need to see me without my glasses on as in my passport photo. I was done fairly quickly.
Cuba seems to do things cos they bloody well feel like it. So all our hand luggage was put through an X ray machine AGAIN and we were handed a form but told nothing of what to do with it. I, of course, beeped on the way through. I really don’t think they understood me as they looked somewhat bemused when I pointed to my boobage and suggested it was highly likely to be the under wiring! Sultry lot it seemed.
A trip to the facilities and the location of the hand gel and wipes and loo roll was established instantly as I hovered over the first of many loo seats on the journey trying not to let a milimeter of bottom skin touch anywhere that might have any remote possible germ lurking. And then came the fun. Apparently if you are a female European looking woman, standing ANYWHERE near the carousel is just a no go. It was a cameraderi of testosterone to show who could pull their heavy bags off there the quickest. Women, well from where I was standing, were allowed no where near! We stood, when I say we I think I mean THE ENTIRE FLIGHT, waiting for bags for around an hour with the same 5 going round & round. Some were being collected but at a rate that the baggage handlers were collecting them from the plane one by one and putting them on the carousel. It was getting hotter. I was loosing patience. I couldn’t see the couple I’d met at Madrid airport and still had no idea who was on our tour to see if it was just me. After at least an hour and a half the belt stopped and a mass rush of people seems to transcend towards a neighbouring belt were LOADS of bags were going round. Amazing. But still not mine. Still the testosterone flowed and I was smacked in the face several times by those unaware of their rucksack being the size it was. Obviously not English so no apology – not even when I tapped them on the shoulder and said Hola?!!! My bag finally appeared. In the mean time whilst waiting the extra 20 mins at the new carousel I’d spotted loads of people going through nothing to declare filling in forms up against the wall. From my skin reading I thought that the form we were given just after passport control was only if we had anything to declare. Apparently not. We had to let them know how much currency & electronic items we had with us and their value?!! Why? Possibly best not to ask. Once I had my bag I walked triumphantly through about 30 people frantically filling in their forms as I handed mine to the lady at the exit who took a glance to see if written down thing on it but not enough to see what and in I strode into the arrivals hall to see Marlon out guide for the week.
Not really a happy smiley welcome to Cuba face but more a sarcastic, yay you’re here face. I had a feeling the poor sod had been at the airport for hours (later confirmed that he had been here since 6pm – I got through at around 1130pm!) his face was a picture of I SO can’t be arsed with this. He suggested going & changing £200 into CUC which I queued to do so. Normally, a guide knows what they are on about on these sort of things and if they suggest – you do. I’d read the queues to exchange in the city were mental EVERYWHERE. Frankly what’s £0.01 difference?! There are always some people, despite never having been to the country that know better. Let them get on with it.
Claire and John were last through with bags and into the exchange queue which had doubled by the time they got there and didn’t seem to move far. Essentially one of those behind the screen had gone off for a fag break. Amazing! There were 7 waiting and Claire & john so 9 of is only but the group was 18 in total. Transpired that there were some that had already arrived and there arriving tomorrow afternoon. Mainly women with only 3 men. Age wise – pretty mixed but I’d say a fair few around my age range – shall we call that 35-45? So hard to tell.
A short bus trip to the hotel and he filling out of more form last with passports and I finally made it to my room. Not too shabby – bathroom ensuite thank god and I sorted my buys out for the morning, set about 5 alarms and went to bed. I think it was 0215 with alarm set for 7am to shower and wake up sufficiently before a group meeting & the walking tour of Havana.
I’d already got over excited about all the old cars which really are a sight to behold. Intermingled with newer versions obviously but some utter beauties around! Never saw myself as much of a petrol head before!!?!!
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