Quick trip this past weekend. Herald of Truth works with a young preacher in Cuba; this man has been invited to speak at several events this fall (Harding Lectureship, ACU Summit, etc.), so we’re working on getting him a visa to come to the States. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana requested to see the original letters of invitations for each event. Sounds simple enough, but the plain fact is that the U.S. and Cuban mail systems aren’t working together right now and other delivery companies balked at taking the materials. We finally decided it would be easiest just to hand carry them.
My travel took me through Cancun. It’s always interesting to me how excited people get when you mention Cancun. They seem to forget that:
- being in the Cancun airport is no more exciting than being in any other airport
- Cuba is a Caribbean island with beaches every bit as nice as they say the Cancun beach is (I wouldn’t know firsthand; outside of the Cancun airport, I’ve only seen the Marriott Courtyard hotel which is near the airport)
I left Abilene early on Saturday, doing my best to make it to Cancun in time to catch a 2:30 Cubana airlines flight. Both my flight from Abilene and Dallas went smoothly, so I got to Cancun right on time. Immigration and customs were no problem, so I got to the Cubana counter before noon.
When I checked in, the agent said, “Your flight leaves at 2:30, but check here at 2:00.” That seemed strange. A 2:30 flight should be boarding by 2:00. At the least, I should be through security by then. So I asked if I’d heard right. “Yes, there is a slight problem with the plane. If we can’t fix it, we’ll have to bring another one, which will mean your flight won’t leave until tonight.”
Yuck. Naturally when I went back at 2:00, they informed me that I should go to the gate… at 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. They also provided me with 100 pesos in vouchers (which is about 8 dollars. I picked up some bottled water to have in Cuba). I had no interest in leaving the airport, so I retreated to a place where I could at least access the Internet via my iPod touch. There was plenty of time to kill.
About 7:30 I wandered by the gate area and saw that an estimated departure time had been posted — 12:40. Wow! Eventually they gave us another voucher… some juice to drink there and more water to carry.
Finally a plane arrived. It wasn’t a Cubana plane, but one from T.A.C.A. (an airline from El Salvador). Having flown on Cubana in the past, I didn’t mind trading a broken-down Russian jet for the modern one we got to fly on. We touched down in Havana at about 4 in the morning.
Immigration and customs took a while. As would happen in any country, someone flying in on a tourist visa and only planning to stay one day catches the eye of immigration officials. My belongings were searched well, and I was questioned rather vigorously for about half an hour. Finally I got to leave the airport.
Tony Fernandez was there to pick me up; poor guy had been waiting all day. We drove to Matanzas, and I arrived at my hotel at about 6:40 a.m. Church was at 10:00, so I at least had a few minutes to rest a bit. I slept until 9:00, then jumped in the shower.
I noticed the water pressure was a bit weak, but I’d seen worse. The shower head could be taken off the mount and lowering it increased the pressure. No problem… I’d shower on my knees. With the trickle that was coming out, I was able to lather up thoroughly, both with soap and shampoo. That’s when the trickle disappeared. No water. At all. Not in the shower. Not in the sink. None.
There I was, covered in soap, and the only water in sight was in the toilet. Would I…?
Then I remembered Cubana’s generosity and the bottles of water in my bag. I could get more. This was an emergency. It was a bit chilly, but I was able to rinse off with one of the bottles and still had some left for brushing my teeth.
Church was great as always, and I got to share some time with dear friends at lunch and supper (with a nap in between). I didn’t dare stay up too late, since I had a 7:00 flight the next morning. That meant leaving the hotel at 3 a.m. At least there was water on Monday!
The return trip was pretty uneventful… flooded airport in Cancun, long lines at customs in Dallas, but everything was on time and I made it back.
So that was my weekend. How was yours?