Cuba

CUBA

Finally, I made it. Feels like Cuba has been on the list forever, it only took the U.S.A to end the embargo against Cuba for it to jump to the top of the list. I wanted to see and experience authentic Cuba, so I made a resolution, Cuba before 2015 ends.

Plaza de la Revolución

Plaza de la Revolución

Getting there

Caribbean air travel is awful, I have said so many times before, but this trip confirmed for me how bad it really is. Getting to Cuba from Barbados was narrowed down to 2 routes:

Barbados -> Jamaica -> Cuba OR Barbados -> Trinidad -> Panama -> Cuba.

Both would have worked as I intended to add a few days and see either Jamaica or Panama. In the end I opted for the former, but guess what, it ended up to be:

Barbados ->Trinidad ->Jamaica, overnight, Jamaica -> Cayman -> Cuba.

Why? There were no options for direct from Barbados to Jamaica, the flight for Cuba leaves before the flight from Barbados gets to Jamaica, hence the overnight, and as I was using Cayman Airways, we transit through The Cayman Islands. So on the day I finally got to Cuba, I had breakfast at Norman Manley Airport in Jamaica, Lunch at the Cayman Yacht Club and dinner in Havana. The upsetting part is travellers from U.S.A and Europe got to Cuba in less time than I did and they paid less than I did. Caribbean air travel at its best. (NOT!)

Cayman Yacht Club

Cayman Yacht Club

Cuban Immigration

I had read online that you needed to secure a Cuban visa either before arrival or on arrival, however, when I checked with the Cuban Embassy in Barbados, I was told as a Barbadian I didn’t need one. On departing Cayman Airways an airline employee did ask if I have my visa, which got me a little worried. On arrival in Cuba, I did see persons with their visa and saw an immigration officer leading a young man away who didn’t seem to have one. When it was turn, the immigration asked for my visa, I responded I didn’t need one as I was Barbadian, to which he responded okay, stamped my documents and told me enjoy my stay. Even though the arrival hall seems eerie and intimidating, I found the officials to be quite pleasant.

Note: On leaving Cuba, I stopped at the other terminal, think that is terminal no. 1 and it is not at all like I one the I flew in and out of. It is very modern with lots of shops etc.

Cuban Customs

Off to the baggage collection I went. Now this is where it got weird, this area seems very dated and somehow dark for an airport and there are lots of airport employees, (including the ladies in the short skirts and black fishnet stockings that everyone talks about), but I couldn’t determine what their jobs were. Now we know Cubans returning home has lots of luggage, so the luggage process took forever, and while persons collected 5 packages per person, of tvs, microwaves and all sorts of big electronics, I stood there for an hour almost in panic that my one little suitcase didn’t make it, but alas it did.

SN: The guy who didn’t had his visa, showed up to collect his luggage and even left before me.

Cuban Experience 

Once out of the airport, the Cuban experience begins, there were loads of persons outside, mostly waiting for family members and it brought back memories of years ago when Caribbean families went to the airport in numbers to see each other off or to welcome each other home. Now we drop them at the curb like the Northerners and roll out…haha

And the fun began…along with the hundreds of family members outside, were taxi drivers playing let’s see who can shout the loudest. Seemed a bit overwhelming so soon but I wade past, in search of a cambio (money changer), changed some money to pesos, got my bearings together and then found a taxi. With printed directions in hand from the casa particular I had booked online, the journey went to plan for the price they said and I arrived just in time to see the sunset over Havana.

Sunset over Havana

Sunset over Havana

Perfect Ending to a long day.

Sunset over Havana

Sunset over Havana

Sunrise over Havana

Sunrise over Havana

 

 

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