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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh the Cubanity!!! Part 6. Just a travelogue.

I guess I should tell you a bit more about my trip and some of the "highlights" once I arrived. I'll do it in chronological order so you can skip over the boring parts.

Day One: There was the whole nightmare scenario of dealing with Sky King Airlines, the four hours it to took them to check us in, weigh our bags, steal our cash (it's a cash only airline, no credit cards.) Hand out fake vouchers to top restaurants in Havana and Santiago. (Nobody in Cuba recognized the vouchers)  Maylady(pronounced my-LAD-ee) did take care of a lot, after forking out additional cash.   It was basically a training ground for dealings in Cuba.

There were several very fabulous male flight attendants who were quite shaken by the turbulent crossing. I was thinking I would die in an unmarked watery grave in an unmarked white 737. Yes, Sky King Airlines is just a white plane, no markings. It was probably bought on 36th street at one of the used car lots where "everyone drives out with a vehicle."

We arrive in Cuba only to be detained by immigration. As the only two passengers traveling on U.S. passports we were questioned why we (My son and I)were traveling on U.S. passports and not on our "real" nationalities. I was born in Central America, he in Russia. They tried to separate us, but I refused to leave him. We sat for about 45 minutes being interrogated by a very cute Cuban guy....it was the only thing that made our delay bearable.  The whole time I was thinking: this is my vacation?

We arrive at last.We were "released" to the family.  Hugs, kisses and sighs of relief that we were not sent back on the Sky King plane which had still not left for its return flight. Joy and songs and dancing that we had arrived. 

Day two: Sightseeing in Santiago. Santiago is a small Spanish colonial city on the Eastern side of Cuba. The weather is HOT. The men are HOTTER.  I would suggest to any woman who wants a man to go there. It seems there is a surplus of men, of all races (yes there is such a thing as Cuban-Chinese) who are buff, shirtless and eager to help tourists for a few CUCs (CUCs are Cuban Hard Pesos, because Soft Pesos don't get you anywhere). Lots of people dancing in the parks playing live Cuban music. Just about everywhere we went there was singing and dancing....because that's just what socialists do. 

Day three: Socialist Wedding. We went to a socialist wedding wearing our newly purchased Paul Smith shirts, not Guayaberas (See previous posts).  I liked the ceremony, it lasted all of five minutes, just a signature in a book and exchange of rings. Everyone was a cousin. Then rum, dancing, more dancing, more dancing. More rum, beer, dancing. Bad food.

Day four: Sightseeing in the Countryside. Lovely, green, green, mountains, shirtless men working in the fields being tilled with donkeys. This is the triumph of socialism?  Went to a Catholic Shrine, saw a little doll that supposedly washed up after a storm as spoke to three boys. The doll was like Barbie fabulous. It was a bit of a stretch for me. We ate at a restaurant on a lookout about 5,000 feet above a prison. You could hear the congas emanating from the prison.  

Day five: Cubana de Aviacion to Havana.  I have to mention the Cubana flight, It was a Soviet Tupolev 334. The weird thing about this flight was the fog. Apparently this model is famous in Cuba for producing fog....from the moment you board, there is a thick fog being pumped out of the air vents. At first it's just around your feet. As we headed along the taxiway the fog was at my waist. In mid flight the fog was at my neck. It was like a weird movie where all you could see were the disembodied heads of the passengers. The plane had an escape rope. (WTF?)

Tomorrow: Havana and the last installment of the Oh the Cubanity.