Made it! Alive, in one piece, and unhassled, as I expected. After we landed in Cancún, those of us with connecting flights headed for the other terminal, while others went to their hotels to stay overnight. My flight was on Frontier Airlines to Denver, so that is the city where I came through customs. I had my travel license in hand along with my passport. On my customs declaration, under “Countries visited on this trip prior to U.S. arrival,” I wrote: “Mexico; Cuba with License #15609.” On the back, under “Description of Articles, I indicated that I had $50 in items made in Mexico (the country of origin wasn’t stamped on the item, so my assumption was that they were made in Mexico.) I also indicated $50 in artwork and music CD’s that were produced in Cuba. The nice customs agent scanned my passport (which has numerous stamps from Cuban airports), per protocol, and asked a very strange question: “Do you have any tattoos?” I told him I didn’t. He made a mark on my customs tag, handed me my passport, and said “Welcome back.” I wasn’t sure what the mark meant, because I understand these marks indicate different things on different days. On my way out of the final checkpoint, I handed in my declaration with the mysterious mark on it. The agent kept it and indicated I was free to proceed out of the secure area. I had to go through security once again to board my flight from Denver to Sacramento. I picked up my car at the airport, and drove home to the mountains. On the way, I thought about how my day had begun–on the beach a couple of hours east of Havana. After a bus ride, three flights, and an hour’s drive, I was heading home. I arrived early this morning about 1am. I’m looking forward to future non-stop flights from Oakland to Havana, which have been approved, but not scheduled as of this month. In the meantime, I’m seriously considering flying from Miami instead of Cancún on future trips. There are advantages and disadvantages to flying from each city.
Today I received emails from those who left Cancún the same day I did. Nobody had any problems in customs; nobody had any bags opened. All returned successfully with their Cuban artwork and music CD’s.