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.

Train’d Parrot

I get on the over packed train, having sprinted like a lunatic to catch it, and look everywhere for a seat. I walk down carriage upon carriage of smug commuters looking for my own little slice of heaven, but alas…nowhere to sit.

Then, in between the two EMPTY first class compartments, just where the carriages are coupled, I find a fold down seat not dissimilar to the jump seats used by cabin crew on an aircraft. There’s no one around, there’s no one using it…so I sit down.

Mmm, comfy.

The train pulls away and I settle down to play games on my iPhone.

Perfect.

I look up and down the carriage and it’s standing room only as far as the eye can see. I’m definitely part of the smug crowd.

About 3 mins into the commute I hear footsteps getting closer and closer. They stop to my left and I sense someone stood over me.

I don’t look up.

“Can I help you sir?”, comes a voice in a thick African accent.
“Sorry?”
“Can I help you sir?”, he repeats, in exactly the same way.
“Oh do you want to see my ticket?” I ask, knowing full well what he’s getting at.
“You can’t sit here” he continues.
“Why’s that?” I ask.
“You can’t sit here” he repeats again, not actually answering my question.

I stand up “sorry, why can’t I sit here? The train is packed and there’s nowhere to sit”
“Dis is for staff sir” he says, stating the bleedin’ obvious.
“But there’s no one sat here” I argue, knowing I’m going to be as successful as a dog walker, bag in hand, watching their dog squirt diarrhoea all over the floor.
“Dis is for staff sir” he repeats, like a parrot who’s been taught a phrase but hasn’t got a clue about the right sort of delivery.

Polly want a cracker?

I look him in the eye, smile and say “Oh! I see! It’s for you is it?”
“It’s for staff sir” he says again, causing me to suspect he may, just possibly, be absent a personality.

“Oh, well in that case I’ll go and stand over there uncomfortably with everyone else. Thank you so very much”. I walk back through the EMPTY first class compartment and join the sauna.

“Dis is for staff”

Yeah, I heard you the first 9 times you insufferable Jobsworth.

Luckily this train is really, really delayed and I’m left standing here amongst the coughers, newspaper rustlers and that one guy whose ipod is turned up so loud he’s having problems keeping his balance.

I may garrotte him with his headphones.

Mind you, he hasn’t got to endure those annoying phone users who all take this opportunity to call home and advise of their tardiness. They all start the same bloody way; “hi hun it’s me…me. It’s me. Hello? Yeah it’s me. I’ve got no sig…hello? Yeah I’ve got no signal! Hello? Hello can you hear me? Hello…my train is delayed and….” (Cut off)

They then get called back (with their ringtone at full volume…enough to startle Mr iPod) and repeat the above conversation, almost word for word.

End and repeat.
End and repeat.

In the meantime the guard has pissed off down the train somewhere and isn’t even using the ‘staff seat’.

Think
I
Might
Scream