Cuba stard! Pt. 3

This is a follow on from the last two entries.

It just gets better and better.

We land in Nassau 25 minutes late and taxi to the gate. So far so good(ish); I can probably still make my flight.

Then, stop.

There’s an issue with getting the walkway up to the plane door, so we stand there and we wait for another 15 minutes. I’m getting worried now; my connecting flight leaves in 45 minutes!

We finally get off the plane and I power walk towards the baggage claim area like a man possessed, through the newly built wing of the airport.

Then, stop.

The security doors are locked and neither of the security staff can open them with their electronic flashy beepy key card passes. Shit! We stand there for another 10 minutes while someone goes and gets what’s called a ‘key’, and hey presto, the door opens! Magical!

With only 35 minutes until my flight, I hit a full sprint…which is great considering we were at the furthest gate from ANYWHERE!

The good news is that my bag is already there waiting for me at baggage claim, with an “oh there you are!” look on its face. Hooray! I grab it and run, with my case hopping from left wheel to right wheel in a manner threatening to capsize at any moment!

Then, stop.

A queue for customs. I bite the bullet and, whilst panting heavily and sweating like a whore in church, I ask the line of people if I can jump in front of them as I have a flight in 10 minutes. The woman at the front made it clear she was not happy by looking me up and down and scowling, but the customs lady heard me and beckoned me to go next. Ha! In your face scowling woman! The customs lady asked if I had any alcohol or cigarettes and then sent me on my way. I picked up the sprint where I left off and bolted through arrivals and out into the Bahamian air.

Whew! That is HOT!

No time to stop and catch some rays; I run into departures and straight up to the BahamasAir check-in desk, panting and wheezing like a priest on a whore.

Then, stop.

The flight is now closed.

Aaaaaaarrrrrgh!!!!!!

I pull out the big guns; giving the ultimate puppydog eyes, pleading and (which is what I think swung it for me), pointing out that it was THEIR flight that caused me to be late.

It worked and I got my boarding pass! She smiled and said, “now go to gate C51” like they do in the movies when they say “now go get her and tell her you love her!”. I ran my fastest run, knowing my beloved was waiting with wings open wide.

Interestingly, US customs and immigration was a breeze….and unexpected as I thought I would get it at the other end, not in Nassau. Oh well, less hassle in Florida I guess.

I then continued to run; my lungs bursting with the fast pumping of oxygen passing through them.

I can see the Departures board. It’s just up ahead! I’m nearly there! It’s gonna happen! This journey from Satan is almost at an end!

Flight delayed for 45 minutes.

I stood there, looking up at the screen, dripping with sweat, panting so hard that nearby kids were passing out from oxygen deficiency, and I could only do one thing.

I laughed.

I mean I really laughed out loud.

The family next to me were shielding their children from the strange laughing man, but I didn’t care. I just stood there and let out a big hearty laugh.

Brilliant. I couldn’t have ended this story any better. Irony had handed me the perfect conclusion to this episode of my journey.

Looking around me I suddenly realised I was technically in the States; there was a Wendy’s, a Quiznos, a Dunkin’ Donuts and more. But best of all, I was just happy that everything was clean, shiny and air-conditioned. I ventured into the toilet and there weren’t shit spattered bowls, piss covered floors and water-free taps.

Heaven.

I can wait 45 minutes. After all, I’ve got to get my breath back.

Advertisements

Cuba stard! Pt. 2

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.

What.
The.
Fuck??

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.

Perfect.

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.

Excellent.

I really am going to miss this place.

Cuba stard! Pt. 1

So I’m at José Martí airport, terminal 2, waiting for my flight to Nassau, which will connect with my flight to Florida. It’s about a million degrees in the shade and I’m melting because I’ve just spent the last 40 minutes in a custom made metal box with no air, or as the Cubans call it, a ‘taxi’.

I walk through the massive sweaty chattering crowd outside the terminal and peer inside.

It’s empty. I mean there’s no-one but check in staff and an old guy at the entrance with a walkie talkie who just asked if I’m flying today. I guess the huge suitcase and heavy hand luggage I was struggling with wasn’t enough of a clue.

Anyway, he waves me through and I enter the air conditioned bliss.

I look at the screen above every check in desk and they read ‘Miami’. I didn’t think you could fly direct from Cuba to the United States, and yet here is proof that I was wrong. It’s at this point I’m filled with joy and appreciation for my indirect flights (wipes away tears of sarcasm).

So I start looking for screens that say Nassau but none of them do. I then realise I’m 20 minutes early. Better than being late I guess, but hey, at least I’m nice and cool. I’ll just find somewhere to sit in the massive empty terminal building, away from the sweat and noise of the mob outside. Why are they all standing out there anyway? It’s better in here, where it’s cool and fresh and, hey…there’s nowhere to sit! What the hell?

I decide to stand, even though it’s really my only choice other than laying down and airports don’t like it when you do that.

After a few minutes the old guy, lets call him Jobésworth Cuntos, comes over and asks me again which flight I’m on.

I tell him….again.

He then says I have to wait outside, or something to that effect as it mostly consisted of stern jibberjabber and waving his walkie talkie towards the door.

Well, that explains the angry mob outside.

Hang on, this building is empty and can easily accommodate the wilting passengers outside, three times over. So me being me I challenge him.

“But it’s really hot out there!”, I say, pointing outside and then tugging on my t-shirt collar with my index finger to indicate that it’s hot out there.

Stern jibberjabber, walkie talkie waving.

“And it’s nice and cool in here”, I continue, pointing first at the floor to indicate I mean ‘in here’, and then fanning myself with my hand and giving him the thumbs up.

Jibberjabber; waving.

What an arsehole. No wonder people out here are getting increasingly pissed off. All that air-conditioning is going to waste, not helped by Jobésworth here standing in the open sliding doorway causing it to remain open. Or maybe that’s just his way of showing us how empty and cold it is inside; a lot like him actually.

It seems that in Cuba, those who earn power get respect, those who are given power, work at the airport.

I’m not looking forward to meeting the rest of the Cuntos family who no doubt work at customs and immigration in Florida.

Funny, on the hole….

“Oh no!” I hear my girlfriend cry from behind me in our Cuban hotel room.

I turn around, fearing the worst; “what is it?”

“There’s a hole in my beach bag!” she says, poking her finger through the hole just so it’s clear there’s definitely a hole.

“Oh no, where did that come from?”

She pauses.

“Tesco”

I laughed all the way to breakfast.