Wednesday January 11
We were down in the lobby with our luggage at 7:30 am and bussed to the airport where somebody else had already checked us in with our passports and other papers we had filled out at the meeting the night before. But then we stood in line to check in our suitcases. It was a group check in but James and I had no problems anyway because ours weight only 33 and 36 pounds of the 44 aloud. They even weighed our hand luggage. After that and security we had plenty of time to find breakfast. Not very exciting but a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee will do.
And then we really waited. Boarding for this Aruba Airlines flight was supposed to start at 10 with the take-off at 11. I think we started boarding at 11. James and I marveled how the Cubans on board seemed to hop from one seat to another even when we were supposed to be seatbelted.
Finally ... bye bye to Miami
Hello to Cuba
It took a long time to get through immigration and to get our luggage. It was funny because half of the plane's cargo space must have been full with shrink wrapped bales and flat TVs belonging to returning/visiting cubans.
Finally we were all through and our tour guide Migdalia met us. She will take care of us the whole time and also bus driver Raul. The bus is spacious and pretty new.
It was almost 3 pm now and we were late for lunch which was in a private (not state owned) restaurant Il Divino. It was on a terrace and very nice.
We had choices like squash soup and chickpeas to start with. The soup was excellent but we got to taste the chickpeas and that would have been a good choice too. Dick at our table was wondering what was in it and we were told chirozo which explained the nice taste.
Local beer ... very good.
Choice of fish or pork. Guess what James had. Delicious plantains and ocra.
Postre! Choice of papaya and guave. Must have been marinated in sugar but ... we are on vacation. It was worth it.
Afterwards we had a tour of the farm and got the situation explained in Spanish by the lady on the left and translated by our guide. Too much to write! But the owners do a lot for the community and inviroment.
Cuban bees are different. The honey is supposed to be very healthy. No bee should ever try to get in the wrong house. There is always a guard (you can see) and would be killed.
The garden is open for the community to come for picnics, bring their own or buy.
A house in the back for seniors to come every day. They get meals and play games, socialize.
A view into the street to the other side.
On the way to the hotel we stopped briefly at the Revolution Plaza.
I did take a VIDEO for a better impression but I have to plug it in later because it doesn't want to be uploaded to utube here in Cuba.
Here it is: VIDEO!
There are also everywhere these old cars around. The rest of our group seems to be very obsessed about them. James took several photos but I can't seem to get them to the iPad. Something else which needs to get plugged in. And the photo of Cuba's version of the "tuck tuck".
We are briefed at the hotel, got our keys and had a little time to settle in.
At 7:15 pm we were supposed to be at the grandfather clock in the lobby.
Another private restaurant. We had our own room with live entertainment. Everything was very nice ... including the lobster.
The live music was lovely.
VIDEO ... again, has to be added once I am home.
O.k. here it is ... VIDEO!
At the end we were offered complimentary cigars and rum (neet). We gave the cigars to fellow travelers. The rum was very nice, almost like brandy. It settled the stomach nicely.
We had our fun though because somebody said the rum smelled like perfume to her ... so we had to do the dubbing behind the ear.
Bus ride back to the hotel. City is very pretty with buildings and statues in a nice light. No photos. Have to commit it to memory. It's a nice group and we have fun.