Trip Reports

Jamaica to Cuba – Part 3

Written by Xavier Murphy

Today is our last day in Cuba. As usual we went to breakfast. After breakfast I had to change some Euros at Cambio before leaving. While in line I was questioned by a German tourist who asked if Jamaicans are prejudice. He was afraid to go because someone in Germany told him Jamaicans are prejudiced. I assured him we were not and that it was safe to go to Jamaican.

I did some lone walking as we had time before our transfer to the airport.

While walking around I met a young Cuban man. He was about 20 years old. He saw my Jamaican shirt and said “Jamaica Mon”. He said he liked ganja. He asked if I wanted Cuban cigars. Not sure how we ended up talking about basketball but we started talking about the NBA playoff games. He told me the Boston Celtics were his favorite team. I was unable to watch last nights game in the hotel but he was able to with a dish at his house.

He then started to tell me about a music festival that was happening that night.  Unfortunately, I would not be there to see it. I had a burning question I needed to ask. It was how the houses are distributed. I saw some really nice homes and some run-down ones. He said his family had lots of land and owned factories pre-revolution. He said post revolution everyone is equal and everyone has an opportunity to get a home. They pay a small amount each year for the home. The look on his face said it all. I could tell that he did not like the idea of his family wealth being no longer in the family. At the end of the conversation he asked if I had a few pesos to spare.

On the way back to the hotel I met Jorge who also noticed my Jamaica shirt. He was a primary school teacher He told me he had a Jamaican friend who dated a Cuban lady. He told me his friend was having difficulty marrying her and bringing her to Jamaica. He said he would love to visit Jamaica but it would be very difficult so he is not even going to try. I asked if he got a formal invitation from his Jamaican friend. He explained that even with an invitation it would be difficult because he was classified as a professional. He said it would be difficult for him to visit. He did not seem to be willing to go in to anymore details. He was looking around to see who was listening. We talked a little more about the architecture in Havana. I asked him if he would love to take a picture together but he declined.
The driver that took us to the airport drove like a maniac, but got to the airport safely.

Even though there were no smoking signs in the airport, everyone including the airport workers smoked. The room specified for smoking was empty as everyone was outside smoking.

We experienced a power outage while waiting in the Cuban immigration line.  Immigration was smooth for me getting out of Cuba but my wife got the third degree exit interview. They took the visa cards and we were on our way to the waiting area by the gate. I had more time to scope the airport to realize how small it was. There were just a few gates all in one area.

We were hungry so we went to the Club Havana concession area. It was the only food place. They hardly had anything.  I was surprised because it was the airport but then again Cuba is going through a rough time. We asked them to improvise. My wife had and some tomatoes lettuce and an apple. I had pizza that tasted like hot dough with spaghetti sauce.

My wife had to go to the bathroom before we settled on a seat at the gate. She came back to report that the toilet paper allotment was monitored. She said the bathroom attendant asked her a question in Spanish of she could not understand. The bottom line is the attendant stopped communicating and handed her 4 squares of toilet paper. There was no toilet paper in the stalls. I guess the toilet paper shortage is at the airport.

While waiting at the departure gate we saw another Jamaicans.com board member arriving in Cuba.  We greeted him through the glass wall separating the arrivals and the departures.

After we boarded the plane and everyone was seated an Eastern European sounding gentleman seemed to have an issue with someone coughing near to him. He moved to the row of seats parallel to us. The male Air Jamaica flight attendant kindly told him to get to his assigned seat.  The man started arguing. The Flight attendant kept his composure and sternly said to him “Let’s take it outside”. This shut the man up and he promptly move back to his assigned seat for the take off.
Lift off was on time. We got our last look at Havana. The flight back to Jamaica was smooth without any drama.

Jamaica
Upon arrival I was picked up by a cousin and we were too to visiting relatives in Portmore. It was my first time going on the new causeway. We also took the back route to by pass what we used to call the “Old t-junction” at Passage fort. We went by the Forum Hotel. I thought “what a waste”. It used to be such a great place to hang out when I lived in Portmore.

We left Portmore and were off to Kingston to visit my wife’s relatives.  I had not been in Half-way tree even though I have visited Kingston during the past 3 years. We always seem to bypass Half-way tree. I was surprised by the new bus station.  We made 2 stops in Kingston before our final destination for the night.  It was late night before we went to bed and we were going to be on the first flight out.  It is always worth it when you can see family and friends. We are sure we will be back through Jamaica as we make more trips to the islands in the Caribbean. Next stop is Dominican Republic (We went 2 months later. Here is the trip report).

About the author

Xavier Murphy