Day 2

Everyone slept like babies after our BIG Italian dinner at BasilCo.

We woke wondering if the magic of the night before had changes our view of the airport . . .

. . .  from our room . . .

not so much! Although it was a ‘little more attractive’ basked by the light rose color of the rising sun. Hopefully the morning views through our shutters in Cuba will be an improvement.

Time to enjoy one last “American breakfast” before we make the jump to Cuba. Not sure what breakfast there will be like.

 We all assembled at Gate G for what was to be a several hour process of checking in at Swift Airlines, our flight provider to Cuba.11Our happy group waiting . . .waiting . . .waiting12Lots of Cubans ahead of us waiting to fly to Cuba too. They all have been busy shopping. Lots of big screen TV’s heading for the island . . . also a bubble wrapped electric bike this gent is returning with to theisland. Karen was very interested in it because Michael and her both have electrics!13The process actually went very smooth. Jon collected all of our passport, tickets and the goodies and we were processed as a group . . . 16Then it was on to the luggage . . .18 . . . where Barb and Tom got the prize for the ‘Lightest Load of Luggage for a Two Week Trip’. Tom says he may not even use everything in his backpack!!!!!14 . . .   the number of bags were counted . . . 15 . . . and collectively weighed. We were all under the individual 44 pound bag limit, including ones carry-on.

We had two hours to kill until our 2:30pm departure so we had a group beer fest at Chili’s and were ready to go at 1:30pm.17Unfortunately, the plane was not. Pushed back until 4:00pm! Time for more beer!!!!

Now 4:45pm and the waiting is starting to take it’s toll . . . Karen was the first succumb!
Our flight was finally reannounced for 4:30pm. The original plane had a ‘mechanical problem’ and needed to be replaced. Then a new crew had to be found.
20Our new ‘wheels and wings’.

21We were finally in the air for the short 1 hour flight to Cuba and flew over this lake . . .

22. . . on our way to Camaguey

23The jet had an exit through the tail of the plane and since Cindy, Greg and I were seated near the back of the plane we headed out through the tail. Cindy and Greg were of first of our group to hit the ‘terre firma’ of Cuba  . . .

24… followed by Mike and Carol.

25We all change our dollars and Euros at the airport currency exchange for the tourist version of the Cuban peso, the Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC. One CUC equals about $1US. We met our first ‘private entrepreneur’, Raul, at the gate of the terminal selling beer for 2.5CUC. It was our first investment in helping the economy of Cuba!

26We met our guide Eliseo and bus driver Alberto who would be accompanying us for our entire stay in Cuba. The plan had been to go to the hotel first and then out for our arrival dinner but because of our delay in transit we went directly to dinner. A good move because we were all starving! Vino, beer and soda . . . no ice please!

27On the walk to the hotel Bobbie discovered on of the better maintained bicycles we saw on the trip. Just as all the automobiles seem to be of 1950 ere so do the bicycles!

30We had no more checked in when Barb and Tom met Peter at the bar in the hotel. A happy go lucky chap, We would run into Peter and his group from the UK several times during the coming weeks. Here they enjoy the first of many, many Havana Club 7-year aged rums we would enjoy during the week served ‘neat’. (no ice!)

28We checked into the rooms to find them pretty basic, sort of frozen in time from the early 1970’s Holiday Inn era. But always very clean!

29Then it was time to head down to the outside courtyard bar for several more rums and assorted drinks. A representative of ICAP, the Cuban Friendship organization joined us for a drink.

31Alberto and Laurie enjoy a daiquiri . . .

32. . . while we enjoyed several rums!