We’re now at Terminal 3, Havana International Airport. We were picked up just about on time at our hotel and had a nice ride back to Havana. After about an hour, we stopped at a roadside area where we could use the restroom, buy souvenirs, listen to great music, and enjoy piña coladas made with ultra-fresh pineapple juice and coconut milk. Delicious! There was a four-piece musical group playing some nice tunes. There was a poster of Che Guevarra behind them. In front, there were flags of several countries which represented visitors to Cuba—Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, the United States…. The U.S.? Of course. It’s just not THAT unusual to see Old Glory flying at the airport, at a hotel, or at a sporting event.
We made it to the airport in plenty of time. We checked our bags, then went through Cuban Exit Security, which was quick and pleasant. As usual, I requested that my passport be stamped, and as usual, the nice agent asked me if I was sure. I told her I was, so she smiled, stamped it and wished me a good flight. (I later found out that about half our group had their passports stamped entering and leaving Cuba.)
Some visitors are surprised to find that José Martí is a modern, international facility. It was built by America’s best ally— Canada—and completed in 1998. It was inaugurated by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Cuban President Fidel Castro.
There’s still time to buy some last-minute items, and one shop has a nice selection of reasonably-priced artwork, so some of us are using our last C.U.C.’s to do just that. When we get to Cancún, some are flying on to the U.S., and about half will be staying another night in Mexico, then flying home tomorrow. We just had a short meeting to discuss re-entry into the U.S. I reminded my fellow travelers that we are all traveling legally, and our licenses allow unlimited amounts of Cuban artwork and music CD’s. I asked everyone to have their travel licenses ready when they proceed through American customs. I told them to relax and answer all questions truthfully. Finally, I asked them to email me when they get home and let me know if they had any problems.
Its been a remarkable expedition—fascinating and fun. Some of our group are already talking about a future return trip to Cuba.