After the ‘bun-rush’ around the breakfast buffet in the dining room on the first morning, I’ve taken to ordering a plate of papaya and a cup of tea in my room before starting the days. Fortunately, Edmundo doesn’t like early starts, so this gives me some added lee-way to get my pictures and notes of the trip ‘on paper’.
Our rooms are comfortable, overlooking the ‘central park’ of Old Havana. Internet access is fairly fast but I’m only just starting to remember to log out after each usage to preserve the precious hours on the pre-paid card.
On our arrival in Havana three days ago, all airport staff are wearing face masks for fear of Swine Influenza. The only form we have to fill in on the plane is for Health check, and one bright spot for me is seeing the lady who scrutinises the forms wearing a white nurse’s uniform, complete with white shoes and a white nurse’s hat! Some old customs die hard. The airline terminal is dimly lit. The baggage retrieval is chaotic with only one carousel in operation for flights arriving together from Paris, Cayman, Cancun and Mexico City, but we get through. In this melee, Edmundo’s childhood memories are of a bustling international airport in Havana, larger than the one in Miami at the time.
After rising at 5 a.m. in Miami and negotiating the bedlam of check-in and security at Miami International Airport on the busiest Sunday of the year (we should have known better than to travel on the weekend after the Christmas holidays!); then in Cancun having to retrieve our bags and catch a shuttle bus to the right terminal; and stand in line again for check-in while lifting our heavy baggage so many times through x-ray machines and the like, we are pooped. We decide to eat in the hotel and discuss our program for the week with our guide.
All we’ve had to eat today is peanuts on both flights. I’m hungry and we head for the Steak House. The shapely dining room hostess greets our guide, not us! He is a fashion photographer and this young lady has been one of his models. We are off to a good start and are offered complimentary champagne while Edmundo orders some sausages and the very Spanish de piquillo pimentos to pick on. We don’t know where, or in what period, we are in in this dining room of red and gold flounces, and polished wood.
We take off on foot for the first sightseeing expedition of Old Havana. . . . pictures tell more than a thousand words . . . please click on the slideshow and view the photos in full screen and follow our first day.