Monthly Archives: December 2015

So this is what they mean by “Mexican time” or “Cuban time”

26-12-15
Had brekky, did a sketch from my room and wrote some notes before pickup at 12:30 for the airport; we’ve increased numbers by another 2, a couple, Chris and Min, from Melbourne have joined us also. We were at the airport by 12:45 even though our flight wasn’t due to leave until after 4.Thank goodness there were a few of us because we had no idea where to go or what to do; a guy in uniform came up and asked us which airline we were flying with, told him Cuba Air and he told us which number check-in desk to go to but we would have to buy the Cuban entry visa for US$25 before we checked in and he could do it for us then. Jenny, Tanya and I all gave him our money and got our visas but Min & Chris and Wendy and John didn’t trust him so didn’t get theirs. This guy then took us to the check-in counters and started doing the same thing with everyone in the line. The 2 couples had to wait then for him to do theirs and he said to them, do you trust me now, bahaha!

We still had almost 3 hours to kill, so had lunch at an American place called Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, all themed on the Forest Gump movie. According to most of the others my chicken salad was the pick of the food!  Boring as batshit sitting around waiting after that, the flight was delayed and even after we boarded there were more delays and we didn’t leave until 6 pm. After all that it only took 50 mins to get to Havana.

I sat next to a couple from Seattle going on a tour but only allowed to stay 7 days and mostly around Havana. They told me one way Americans get around the ban is to organize it through a Canadian travel company as a cultural visit. When we got there it took about 20 minutes for any bags to start coming out, and, I kid you not, 2 hours for 10 of us to finally get all our luggage. Sometimes the same 6 items would go round a huge loop 6 times or more before any new items were added. Also, seems there’s quite an amount of goods coming in on normal flights, if there was one tyre come out there must have been 15! All this time there were more airport staff than you could poke a stick at wandering around having hugs, cheek kisses and good old chats! It was a real eye opener too, they were all very young, the girls uniform skirts were tight minis and most work black fishnet stockings, the guys uniforms were reminiscent of the old safari suits of the 80’s. During the wait I was talking to a couple from Tingalpa or Taragindi (can’t remember which) on holidays with their two boys. They’d been to LA, Las Vegas and Cancun, are having 3 weeks in Cuba and another week in Hawaii on the way home – 6 weeks in all – pretty cool!

Most of us had wanted to change money at the airport, however, the guide, Vladimir, told us we’d be better off doing it at the hotel and the rate would be the same. Another 40 mins to our hotel, The Telegrafo, in the middle of Havana, checked in, changed money and met back in the lobby 10 minutes later to walk to dinner – at 10 pm. Dinner was fantastic, assorted seafood, the mojitos were nice and minty and everything was all new, different and interesting. Back to the hotel at midnight for a 3:40 am wake up call to be in the lobby by 4:30 to catch plane to Baracoa! Never thought I’d get sick of flying but I’m getting close at the moment, this will be the 5th flight in a few of days!

It’s sort of annoying to have spent the whole day doing absolutely nothing until late at night when we saw a little of Havana old town and had dinner. But, I guess, that’s the joys of travel, isn’t it and tomorrow we’ll get to start our holiday properly.

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Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel

Off to Cuba

25-12-15
Well, I must say I’m a bit excited, it’s more than 2 years since I had more than a couple of days away from home and here I am off to Cuba, albeit on a guided tour! Also going to be in Mexico for a few days to catch up with my eldest son who’s been backpacking South and Central America since the beginning of May.

I was pretty sad Christmas morning, quite weird and lonely to be completely on my own so I was pleased to be spending the day travelling. I left home 7:30 on Xmas morning for the airport. and left Brisbane for Sydney at 9:30. I let a guy get off ahead of me when we landed and we talked as we walked out. He was going to Hong Kong for few days, visiting his sisters in Munich and London then going to Santiago in California for few days on his way home but was more interested in me going to Cuba. we ended up on same shuttle bus to the international terminal and he was asking me why I decided to go, what I was looking forward to, lots of questions and said he was putting it on his list of places to go! Was 12:30 by the time I got through customs and security and had a few hours to wait so had lunch and couple of wines and did a couple of sketches.

Had an aisle seat in middle row and no one next to me but still didn’t sleep much. It’s pretty ordinary being in economy on long flights, when the guy in front of me put his seat back I couldn’t fit my legs in straight. Got to Dallas 14 hours later and it was still only 1pm Christmas Day! Had couple of hours in Dallas and met another lady on the same tour, Jennie. Heaps of Aussies from my Qantas flight on the same plane to Cancun and none of us really knew if we had to collect luggage or not but took a chance and didn’t. At boarding we got told we had to go and check in again, some people not happy but didn’t really matter. Met another girl on the plane, Tanya, who is on same tour. When we got to Cancun I was late out of the plane and went to wrong baggage carousel with other people so was last one to meet the person with the Bunnik sign, still, no matter but was doing  a minor panic!

First thing I saw outside the terminal was a Margarita Bar – cool. Turns out there was one other couple on the same flights as the three of us, Wendy and John from Darwin. At the hotel in Cancun it took ages to check-in as they didn’t have rooms assigned to us but the two young blokes on reception were really nice, laid-back and friendly. Being the end of a huge day/night/day we all had dinner in the restaurant at the hotel; mixed fajitas and 3 glasses of Chardonnay was US $20. A lovely long hot shower and off to bed felt so luxurious after all those hours in planes and airports; I slept like a log. An amazingly it was still Christmas day, about 10pm Cancun time but 1pm our time on Boxing Day.

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Filed under Mexico, Travel