How’s this for some scary shit?
I go to check in at Havana airport only to be told that, as I’m going onto the United States, I need to show my completed ESTA (which I don’t have on me mainly because I wasn’t told I needed it as it was all authorised and approved online), Otherwise i cant leave Cuba.
He asks if I can get it up on my iPhone, but I have no Internet and he was less than willing to allow me to access the Internet from a computer in the entire airport. I mean, how crap is that?
Anyway, after much pleading and my best puppydog eyes, he directs me to the BahamasAir office so I can go onto one of their PCs and show them my ESTA online.
I leave the coolness of the terminal, adopting the briskest walk I have, and into the sauna known as Cuba. Then, with heavy suitcase and hand luggage, I climb the stairs to the first floor office.
That was fun.
I eventually find the office which doesn’t have any signs on it and there’s a bitter old lady sat behind a desk who demands to know what I want. I tell her. She seems annoyed that I’ve interrupted her work and beckons me over. As I get nearer I see she’s on Facebook.
Anyway, I access my details (on the ESTA, not Facebook), and she looks at it over her glasses like my old maths teacher used to do. She then writes a compliment slip out for me to take back to check-in to say I do actually have an approved ESTA. Then she suggests I get lost, which sounds sexier in Spanish somehow. With foresight I take a couple of photos of the computer screen as I don’t need a repeat of this in both Nassau and Florida!
I lug my heavy case back down the stairs, through the heat and crowds and back to check-in. The clerk looks at the slip, smiles and then asks if I have confirmation of my flight out of the US, otherwise I can’t leave Cuba.
Are you kidding me?? I swear these people really want me to stay!
No, I don’t have the confirmation of the flight back to the UK as it was being booked this week back in England whilst the girlfriend and I were sunning ourselves in Cuba.
A few more puppydog eyes later I finally get my boarding pass and I’m allowed airside by the (ahem) ‘pleasant and friendly’ immigration staff, and security staff, and just staff generally. Gosh darn it they’re SO friendly.
To top it all off, the flight is now going to be leaving about 40 minutes late as they’ve only just started boarding; 15 minutes after it was due to actually take off! So I’m probably going to miss my connection.
I really am going to miss this place.