February 21, 2011

Return from Veradero, Cuba endurance test

Just got back from Cuba at 3 am this morning and still trying to catch up on sleep, email, messages and such. Exit from Cuba was an endurance test - worst in 7 trips to Verradero. The bus was 40 minutes late picking us up. Then a long line just to enter the airport terminal - a first. Inside was sheer madness with long winding lines with no one to help direct anyone - and the airport couldn't begin to accommodate the criwds. They just keep building new hotels with the same old airport. It's just one huge hall with agents at the front of lines that cannot possibly hold the number that are bussed in. (Reminded me of Ottawa airport after an ice storm when all flights had been cancelled the day before and thousands of people were lined up for regular and extra flights.) Most people trying to get on the Ottawa flight were sure we'd never make the plane -- the usual line jumpers put everyone on edge. Extra agents from Sunwing flights already checked started checking our flight, which finally got things moving ever so slowly. Then to another line to buy the "exit tax", another line for customs, then a line for security (I had to take off my belt, still set off the alarm, but still had my water bottle in my bag). Then we had to get in another line to get on the plane - which involved walking downstairs, across the tarmack (with large holes to fall into). Wait again to get on the plane. I counted 7 lines before we got in the air. A few tired people said they would never do it again. Two weeks of relaxation completely undone in 9 hours (hotel to home). Last year we had to be at airport at 6 am and then 5 am to start back but the airport was quiet at daybreak - apparently all the European planes fly overnight which makes for the huge crowds in the evening. All those new hotels but same old airport facilities just makes no sense. Fleeing the revolution couldn't have been worse! The only good part is we were fairly sure we would not be shot or thrown into prison!