Not April, December. But despite it being winter, it was still hot – like 27- 30 degrees every day. Just thinking about what the April sun in Cuba would be like makes me sweat! Our G Adventures guide, Jorje, was from Cuba and he said summer time temperatures are usually about 35. We were there at a good time!
Our first impression of Cuba wasn’t great (spoiler alert: it would improve). Our morning hadn’t gotten off to the best start: a 4am alarm, our sunscreen was confiscated at security, and we were fined $100 for having ‘lost’ our Mexican tourist visa cards. We had no idea what the staff member was talking about and we were unanimous in our thinking that we hadn’t been given one. At the very least, we felt it was way too unlikely that we had both managed to lose it from our passports so our annoyance at paying for a replacement was pretty understandable!
The Havana airport was magnificently rundown. The decor was red, yellow and in need of a serious repaint. It was an instant step back in time, a feeling that would remain with us throughout the week. We proceeded through security immediately after stepping off the plane and then we waited almost an hour for our bags. The belt kept stopping, but only one or two new bags would be added each time. Later we would learn that this was not an anomaly: we could expect to wait for everything in Cuba.
We were so relieved to see our names on a sign when we walked through into arrivals. Our flight was supposed to have landed over an hour and a half prior, so we were sure that our pick-up person would have given up on us. We joined the queue to exchange our euros into the Cuban currency, and then another queue to exchange our Mexican pesos. Finally we were done and on our way into Havana.
In our homestay Andy had the awful realisation that his phone was missing. We turned our room upside down multiple times, called the taxi company and then searched our room yet again before accepting that it was probably gone. We don’t think it was pickpocketed: rather that maybe it was left it in the tray after going security on arrival. We have our fingers crossed that it may have been handed into lost property and we’ll check when we go back, but we won’t be holding our breath! After all this time travelling, to have our first big loss occur in the last week and in a country with virtually no internet was a bit of a blow.
Our time in Cuba was to be mostly on a G Adventures tour. We’d been (rightfully) advised that internet was scarce and organising anything was difficult, so we thought a tour would be the easiest way to visit. We were also really looking forward to meeting a group of people that we’d get to know more closely over the week, rather than just through a night or two in a dorm room. Cuba was our last destination before Canada and one of the places I’d been most excited for: so I was very much looking forward to the week ahead!