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Published: June 29th 2017
Travel day back to Havana and the United States! Kirsten gave everyone an 8 am call to be ready and packed. And to our surprise, the minors were packed and ready. We had breakfast and waited for our 9 am ferry. Trying not to sweat our butts off. We had texted our cab driver who took us to the port on Wednesday to confirm that he could still take us to Havana. We got nothing from him so Kirsten got the receptionist to book us a taxi to the Havana Airport. We were still worried that our original guy might show up and were relived to not see his car when we got to the parking lot. Our new driver had Megan’s name and our room numbers on a piece of paper and we were excited to see a regular taxi, with A/C. As we are loading our bags into the trunk we hear a horn honking, Chester looks back and sees our original taxi driver honking for us. Oh crap. Chester immediately tells Kirsten she has to talk to him, and she replies no, that Chester needs to talk to him. So Chester takes the bullet and explains that he never confirmed with us that he could take us. We show him the texts and say sorry. Kirsten even gave him $20 for showing up. We were actually relieved that it turned out ok, and that we were traveling to the airport in a modern car with AC, a Hyundai. Our driver was very proud of his car. Since Kirsten didn’t want to be frozen by the time we got to the airport, Chester sat shot gun. Our driver did not speak English, so Chester did her best to communicate with him with her limited Spanish. He played lots of Cuban music for us, songs we had heard all week and knew everything in the videos too. We were told the drive to Havana takes about 3 hours depending on the car, driver and traffic. Our driver got us there in 2 hours even with a stop to get gas, a stop to urinate by the side of the road, and a stop by the police. Chester kept her eyes closed most of the trip and he was driving too fast for her liking, but at least she was comfy and cool.
We were not expecting to be at the airport 3 hours early, but we were ok. Relived that we had a great trip, we were at the airport, through immigration and just waiting for our flight. The minors were super excited to use their wifi cards and completely ignore the majors now that they could snap chat or whatever they do on their phones.
As a whole, the trip went smoothly, until you try to get out of the country. After three hours of sitting and using the worst airport rest rooms in the world (although Kirsten said Baghdad had the worst airport bathroom—people used the facilities even though there was no running water—gross) Riley’s phone gets a text that our United flight to Houston is delayed! F*&$! We were so close to an easy escape. So, we sit for another few hours waiting for flight back to Houston, hoping we can get through customs quickly and then we will be running for our gates to make our flights. Kirsten and Chester are in first class and board first. The key to making our connections in Houston are the minors getting their bags in the overhead and not checked. With some sweet-talking Kirsten gets them on the bus with first class. First obstacle obverted. Luggage not checked. Door closed about 2 hours late. But with some hustle enough time to make connections. But then we sit on the runway for at least another hour.
We landed in Houston 30 min before the Omaha flight leaves and 45 min before Denver. Chester and Kirsten are off quick, but they decide to let all the people in wheel chairs off before most of the rest of the plane. The minors come off 15 min later. Chester looks at Kirsten and gets her permission to go and see if she can catch her connection to Denver. Kirsten runs with the minors through immigration and customs and all were doing an OJ to the gate. Kirsten was out of breath and had to take a breather but waved on the girls to get to the gate. They arrived just as the agent was closing the door and walking down the jetway. Flight missed. Chester made it to the Denver connection, but as the girls are 2 weeks short of being 18 years old they could not get hotels on their own. So, Kirsten takes one for the team and watches her flight leave with Chester on it. But to rebook, she must wait until her flight to Denver leaves so she can say she missed it.
Kirsten and the minors finally get to the hotel about midnight and there is a line to check in. Kirsten hits her wits end and when 2 old ladies from the UK cut in front because they are “sick” Kirsten is not pleased. But when she sees them at the bar when she gets done checking in, she just loses it as only Kirsten can do. But it’s been a long day in her defense. We got a bit of sleep but had a 6AM wake-up to catch flights home Sunday AM. Kirsten has not patience for a hotel shuttle so Riley and Megan get to take their first Uber to the airport. Once they are through security, Kirsten lets the minors know they are on their own now and heads to her gate. All made it home by lunch the next day.
This was an amazing trip. It may sound like it isn’t but we really enjoyed the culture, the people learning about the history and the island in general. It has a long way to go to be a destination and the only thing holding that back is the government. It was more 3rd
world than we were expecting and the food was not what we had hoped. If you want good Cuban food, go to Miami. The food in Cuba has no flavor at all and too much oil. The people were amazing and so friendly. The opposite of what we were told to expect. We would recommend going to Cuba to anyone, but it is not a place we need to go back to multiple times. Once is enough.
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