Uno Dia

Arrival in Havana via Delta Charter flight.  We wait in line to be processed at Immigration and Customs.  We present our Passports, the special People to People license No. CT-17903 from the Treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) allowing us the right to travel to Cuba, then fight our way through the mountain of green plastic wrapped food from Cuban relatives in the United States to friends and family.

The bombardment of shouts from people trying to make themselves heard over the cacophony of airport arrival and departure information, the humidity, and the entreaties from the taxi drivers all add to the slightly out of focus realization we are finally in Cuba.

An air-conditioned bus takes us to lunch at El Aribe.  We are out on the patio being served a surprisingly good lunch of chicken, salad, black beans and rice.  Oh yes, then ice cream (a Cuban specialty) and very good local coffee.

It is hard to adjust our expectations to our realizations this first day.  We drive past many political billboards of Fidel and Che extorting the virtues of Socialism.  The Revolution is still alive after 50 years it seems. A multitude of U.S.made cars from the 50’s blast past us.  Pedi-Cabs dart in and out without ever being smashed by the many tour buses.  A continual whirl and color and sound keep us on the alert.

Our National Geographic Tour Guide, Christopher Baker and Tour Facilitator John David Kling take us to the “Plaza de la Catedral” that evening where we are served Mahi, rice salad, coffee and Flan.  (So much for the granola bars we all packed!)  One myth blasted and probably more to go by the looks of things.

A beautiful evening, an eventful day – what a way to start the tour of a lifetime!