Arrival in Cuba
Arrival in Cuba was surprisingly relaxed and lacked the sense of chaos and nervousness I’ve seen in many other immigration lines around the world. In fact, when they discovered we had arrived, an immigration official brought us our visas and then we jumped in line. I went first in an attempt to ensure some or all of us might get the feared-by-many Cuba stamp in our passports. After some begging the immigration officer agreed, covered his eyes, stamped the passport and off I went as the stall door locked behind me. Ben, who was next in line, even got to stamp his own passport. Exiting the airport reminded me of Buenos Aires in the sense that hundreds of people huddle around the tiny exit door waiting for family and friends to arrive. It’s much like a mini “red carpet.” The only difference from Argentina was the lack of the beautifully Italian accented Spanish and the flailing appendages that automatically come with that accent (trust me, I’m Italian-American). We were met by some of our Cuban hosts at the airport (enter Coqui, Carmen and Sandra). All of which were so hospitable that it felt like we had been friends for a lifetime. This is always a good way to start out in a new country, especially when the visit is for 70 days.