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Ist Arrival at Los Corales

9:00a.m. Friday morning the 10th of January, we leave the house for Cuba. A bit of farting around last minute stuff, then on the highway. We get to the hotel in Mississauga where we will park the car for the week just after 11. We pay for our room (where we will stay the night we return) & catch a shuttle to terminal 3 at the airport. Arrival at Terminal 3 is at about 10 to 12. We take the bags in & decide to check them in right away. No line up to speak of so it only takes a few minutes, Bonus. Apparently my carry on is too heavy so I have to remove my MP3 player and some batteries & put them in my pockets. What's the difference? Go figure. Anyway, we now have 3 hours to kill before the flight leaves. We stop & have a bite to eat (we brought some cold pizza & pop from home) then window shop for a few minutes. Not much else was happening so we decide to go through security & to the departure lounge. Nancy breezes through; of course they want to see her digital camera. I go through and BEEP BEEP BEEP. I go through again, same thing. I take off my belt & go through again, same thing. Then he has to sweep me with the wand. Finally all clear but they want to look in my camera bag. They open every camera & pouch & finally decide I'm not a threat so they let us go. A brief walk to the departure lounge, then what? Well, the bar is open, so why not. We meet several other travelers there & everyone is in a jovial mood after consuming several $6 beers. Our flight is called & we board. That went quick! (It's now 3 p.m.) We cool our heels in the plane for 20 minutes or so & finally take off about 3:20. Over 6 hours since leaving.

The flight is non-eventful, the seats far too narrow & small, incredibly uncomfortable. The movie is a chick flick, Sweet Home Alabama. Corny. I get bored about 2/3 the way through & stop watching. The meal is Pasta, my absolute favorite (dripping with sarcasm here) and we finally land at Cayo Coco at about 6:30p.m. or so for an hour & a half layover. It seems it's a two-stage trip. First to Cayo Coco, where everyone debarks, then we get back on with other people going back to Toronto. At Santiago, we will get off, & other people will get on going back to Toronto, so on the way back we will be direct. The Cayo Coco people were direct on the way down, but have a stopover on the way back. Anyway, we meet these two guys from Chicago in the waiting room at Cayo Coco who are going to part of the same hotel as us. They buy us a couple of beers & the stopover passes quickly. We line up to leave then find out the rest of the plane is already boarded & waiting for us, so we hurry past the line (we were in the wrong line) & there are about 6 or 8 of us who were late so we didn't feel too stupid. I mean, when they announce things all you hear is this unintelligible garbled noise over the loudspeaker system, barely audible over the noise of the crowd. Anyway, another 45-55 min. in the air to Santiago. We land at about 9:00p.m. or so, give or take 10 min. and line up to clear Cuban customs. We breeze through after having our passports stamped and get our bags. We then breeze through the second part (where they can inspect your bags, where I was detained last year) & out to the tour bus. We cool our heels there as it seems someone is having a problem with customs. Guess who? Our American friends, who they completely rip apart & charge one guy $150 US importation gift tax. LOL. Kinda looked good on them. (Snicker) Well, it's only 62 km to the hotel, but the roads are very narrow & twist & wind, so it takes an hour or so. We arrive at the hotel at about 5 to 11.p.m. We grab a couple of rum drinks from the bar to celebrate out arrival & put the 14-hour journey behind us.

Filed under Adventures in the Caribbean, Sep 9, 2005
 

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