Cuba - Old Dog, New Tricks

Cuba's flag
Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana
February 20th 2011
Published: February 23rd 2011
Edit Blog Post

My New Home For The Next Few WeeksMy New Home For The Next Few WeeksMy New Home For The Next Few Weeks

But that's not my car parked outside and those aren't my pants on the line!

Old Dog, New Tricks

Cuba At Last!

I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba for quite some time, but somehow it’s never worked out.

It’s become more of an urgent need recently because I’m sure that the isolation of Cuba won’t last much longer. And when its isolation ends, Cuba will lose a lot of what makes it unique and it will become like a lot of other Central American and Caribbean countries.

I guess it’s quite hypocritical of me wanting to see Cuba in its current state. Whilst a lot of tourists might enjoy the sight of the 1950s cars still on the road, I’m sure many Cubans would like to buy a new car!

Bk 2 Skwl

I shall be staying here for seven weeks all together. I really need to do something about my Spanish so I can be more independent before I venture out into Latin America again. I’ve signed up for a fairly intensive course of Spanish lessons and I’m going to be living with a family in Havana. I don’t know anything about my host family yet; I wonder if they know anything about me? They are probably used to hosting teenagers on a gap year – I reckon they’re in for a surprise when they meet me!

Off To Havana

The start of any trip always seems to be the gruelling bit – getting to the starting point. As always I seem to have added to the time. I set out early on Saturday afternoon but take a slight detour to go and watch my football team play. I arrive in Havana about 36 hours later.

My choice of affordable flights had been narrowed down to 1 when I found out that all the other flights advertised on the internet didn’t exist at the price they were advertised at. I found myself having to get a flight from Gatwick early on the Sunday morning with Air Europa, an airline I had previously awarded the “Worst Airline I’ve Ever Travelled With” Award to. I get to Gatwick very late on the Saturday night and actually manage to find a space to get a couple of hours sleep and still be near the front of the queue when the check-in opens – I don’t trust Air Europa to issue the same number of tickets as they have seats on the ‘plane!

As it turns out my experience of Air Europa is much better this time. The check-in is reasonably efficient, I have a seat, the plane is clean, the staff smile occasionally, we don’t need armed police on the plane this time, and in another throw-back to my younger days {sleeping in airports and train stations} we get served an airline meal of “spag bol”.

I Really Must Learn Some Spanish

My need to learn Spanish is re-enforced on the flight as I struggle to read all the questions on the customs form for Cuba. The form asks all the usual questions. I can’t believe that customs authorities think that anyone is ever going to answer “yes” to the questions that ask if you have any firearms, live animals or pornography in my case!

I also find myself sitting next to a Cuban on the flight from Madrid to Havana and this is really frustrating because I want to strike up lots of conversations about Cuba, how easy it is for her to travel abroad and why she’s drinking P G Tips instead of
The NeighboursThe NeighboursThe Neighbours

There's amazing architecture everywhere you look in Havana
coffee. Unfortunately neither of us has enough of the other’s language to communicate properly!


36 hours after setting out to watch my football team I arrive in Havana. Getting through the airport is reasonably straight-forward although I’m disappointed that one of the customs officials seems to think I look like a businessman! Everything at the airport is open and, even though it is quite late on a Sunday night, I have no problem changing money.

I’m extremely tired by this point and a nice straight-forward taxi ride to my accommodation would have been nice. Unfortunately there only seems to be one taxi left at the airport and only one of the drivers has the knack of opening the boot. I find myself sharing my taxi with a young female Spanish traveller and an old, drunk, randy, Spanish businessman. I’m not sure how long the drive from the airport to Havana was but it seems to have taken for ever with the drunk businessmen hitting on the young traveller for the entire journey. The first Spanish I learn in Cuba is a succession of cheesy chat-up lines!!

Fortunately the drunk businessman is the first to be dropped off – the girl ends up paying his share of the fare just to get rid of him. But we still have to make another 3 stops before I finally get to my accommodation and almost straight to sleep. I seem to have been driving around for ever – I guess that I’ve been driving round in circles, though, and Havana probably isn’t as big as I think it is.


24th February 2011

ay caramba!
Que peudo decir? Estoy enviosa, pero espero que tengas una muy buena vacacion. By the time you get back you should be able to do much better than that - there will, of course, be a grammar test on the flight home (I've just arranged it with Air Europa).
16th March 2011

Ay caramba!
Gracias, Heather. No pienso que voy tenir muchas problemas de Air Europa consiguiendo su gramática correcta!
5th April 2011

What a nice photo of our "home" in Habana. And yes it is not your pants on the line, because it is my T-shirts hanging there to dry. Miss that place too much!

Tot: 0.433s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 11; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0342s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb