Oh how I wanted to travel to Cuba and that wish finally came through. I usually take time off after Thanksgiving so I decided to head to Cuba via Mexico solo. Air travel from the USA to Cuba was not starting until Monday, November 28th and I did not want to wait until then because I only had three (3) days of paid time off remaining – yes I had a busy year. So I decided to use my holiday time to route thru Mexico starting Thanksgiving evening. Travel on the holiday is much cheaper than before or after so it worked out very well. .
I was off to Cancun on Thanksgiving evening via Delta. The airport was pretty much empty. No line at TSA but I now have my Global Entry so it really doesn’t matter. The flight departed on-time – nice 2 hour flight. Passport control and customs in Cancun were also a breeze. I arranged airport transportation through my AirBnB so I was at my condo in time for dinner. The weather was perfect, nice breeze and not too hot
The next day, Friday afternoon, I was back at the airport for my adventure to Cuba. I was flying Aeromexico and was able to check in and print my boarding pass before I left the USA on Thursday. All I had to do was purchase my tourist visa. The cost of the visa is $25 dollars. You can not use a credit card for the purchase.
The Visa has two sides, one for arrival in Cuba and one for departure. You fill out your name, country and passport number. Cuban passport control stamp the visa instead of your passport. If you make a mistake completing the visa form you have to purchase a whole new one – so pay attention!
At the Cancun airport I met several other Americans eager to see what Cuba had to offer. Most were mainly interested in playing golf, laying on the beach and buying cigars unfortunately. I was nervous about how much money to bring because once in Cuba I would not have access to use my credit or debit cards.
Arrival in Cuba – lots of people!! The line for passport control was not bad. Once at the counter you had to remove your hat and glasses for a photo (no smiling). They then stamp your visa and you go through a gate. Once past the gate the line for immigrations was long. Prior to getting to immigrations you had to scan your belongings. They only had two scanners – OMG.
Once past the scanners you were handed an immigration form. This process is usually taken care of on the flight. This caused packets of people huddled around trying to rush to complete the form. Hopefully this process will change soon. After you completed your form you handed it to the immigration officer and were able to leave. Those who checked their luggage had to wait for that to arrive before they could leave. Cuba is very short staffed so getting your luggage can take up to two hours. I was so happy I did my usual of carry-on only.
So I am out of immigration and looking for my Airbnb host. I find her easily. She takes me outside to change my currency then we are off to the casa for the weekend. The casa is in Habana centro which is about 30 minutes from the airport. Yuneisy, did not speak English very well but her Husband, the driver, did so all was good.
See my later posts about the casa and details on Habana.