Friday, November 20, 2015

Cuba - part 12 (last night in Havana)


Last one!

We made it back to the hotel in time to freshen up and take the bus to our farewell dinner. Earlier in the day we tried to make reservations for Cafe Parisien, but were discouraged. It was really frustrating. Many in our group were going to the Tropicana, but it was both more than we wanted to spend and a longer show than we wanted to go to with having to rouse at 5:30 for our flight home. Oh well. We are good sports. We went to dinner with the group.

At the dinner I saw TV cameras. I later learned they were for the "heroes" who had been released nearly a year earlier. Four of the five were dining there, too. 

We sat with Stephanie, my new role model. Rum was constantly offered to us. I put a drop on my tongue and decided that was enough. 

Our table

I was making small talk with Luke next to me. I asked what he was doing after dinner and he said he was going to Hotel Nacional de Cuba -- the one with the Parisien Caberet in it. Really? The one we were talked out of getting tickets to and was told we had to buy tickets in advance. Oh pooh! He then said the bus was going to drop them off and that they did not have tickets, either. Oh...that changes life.

We pretty much showed up as the show was starting. Not only did we get seats, we got seats on the floor real close to the stage. Not only could we buy tickets at the door, we could use our credit cards. I didn't since between Martha and I we had enough money for the show and to get us through the next morning. I later learned when Don told the credit card company I might use the card in Cuba the best they could do was code it that I was in the Caribbean. In other words, it might have been rejected. 

Our tickets included one drink. Before I had a chance to order a water, this was brought to me. It has rum, curacao, and lemonade in it. I tried my best not to inhale it since I was so thirsty.

The show was a complete "when in Havana" kind of show -- it was a Cabaret with about 24 dancers and six musicians. A much smaller version of the Tropicana, but we were up close. The show is a "fusion of Indoamerican, Hispanic, and African cultures that led to Cuban culture." The costumes were colorful, and the singing was all in Spanish. The biggest downside is that the tables are really crammed in together so there is no room to move about, but I was very happy with my seat and for once not annoyed about being crowded.

The show was about two hours long -- a good length. There seemed to be dozens of costume changes. The action was non-stop.

After the show we were encouraged to go on the stage for a dance contest. One lady from our group took the challenge. I didn't catch her name, but she had a lot of fun. She was continuing on for the 8-day tour.

We piled back into cabs for the ride the hotel. Four hours later we were due to wake up and head back to the airport, only to learn the flight was delayed by two hours and we could have had a great breakfast at the hotel rather than a pretty awful sandwich in a Styrofoam box without even a bottle of water (they ran out). Many suspect that sandwich made them sick for days after the trip. The experience in the Cuban airport was mind-numbing. They have a couple of Duty-Free shops, a small bar, and a giant room where everyone waiting for a flight waited together. As flights were called, people lined up to wait for shuttle buses to take them to airplanes (all of the planes were easily walking distance). In the airplane I was assigned the last row and did not have a window. The flight had just enough turbulence that the fasten seat belt sign never came off, which meant I had a quiet flight not having to listen to the bathroom door keep opening and closing.

Back in Miami we had an American meal at TGI Fridays with many glasses of iced tea. Martha and I called our loved ones and caught up on three days of emails, news, and a little social media. The time passed much quicker in the Miami airport than it did in Havana. At the airport I was upgraded to the exit row and even ended up with TSA Pre-Check Status. 

Don picked me up at the Philadelphia airport and I chatted non-stop about the trip. What a whirlwind! It was a nice ending to the weekend away

All pictures can be found HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment