Alright, let’s do this. I’ve procrastimicated long enough on transcribing my……hold on here…..11 pages (!) of journal from Cuba. How does one count pages? I counted by the amount of flphsh sounds I heard turning the pages, you can almost double if you’d prefer your pages numbered. I went to Cuba on December 1st and returned to the Dominican Republic on December 8th (allegedly, for all intents & purposes* this is a work of fiction – Jaaaaaanet Napolitano looking at you). I wrote in an Ubaldo Jiminez on the Rockies-themed composition notebook that I named
Gossip Girl journal because I’m a man and do not name inanimate objects (I miss you Leo, stuffed teddy lion). I am writing everything as-is except for minor spelling and grammatical errors, and some excerpts which I may deem too racy for public broadcasting – but I’ll tell you that a part is missing when it does happen so you get the he’s so mysterious vibe. This is my story. *Cue Law & Order theme music*
*Who else thought it was ‘intensive purposes’ until they were about 12? Also, I thought ‘made you look’ was ‘major look’. Hukt on Fonix wurkt 4 me.
I leave for the airport at 9:15am via public transportation and arrive before 10:30, while finding out the express bus to Boca Chica takes one right to the terminal entrance from Parque Enriquillo (for 75 pesos, ~$1.80).
I find Cubana Aviación’s desk, empty, wait – they must start check-in two hours before flight departure. That’s okay, I wait. Read book, getting anxious, my ticket says Terminal 3 and there are only Terminals A & B here…
10:50 I ask someone again, they direct me to a group of young workers for Swissport behind a check-in desk. They see my ticket, check my passport, ask me if I was contacted. “No, why??”. “Emely Tours (my booking agent) should have called you, there’s a six hour delay.” Mierda. Someone’s picking me up in Havana. I go to Swissport’s office, they call Emely Tours for me. Emely Tours did call… the phone I lost a month ago. Fine, time to find e-mail access. First to the Claro shop (Dominican Verizon). The lady directed me to the information desk and the girl there let me shoot off an e-mail to my Cuban contact, Ramón, telling him to coordinate my pick-up accordingly. Now, the wait. Also, a Cuban in the Swissport office told me that this happens almost every time, sometimes delayed a whole day. I am glad I made my return trip for three days earlier than my flight to the states.
4:40 Ah communist efficiency. Check-in is at 6:30, flight slated to leave at 9:35 now, getting in a little after 11PM. There’s an intimidating dude at the info desk now, I’m not sure my charm is going to work on him – I’ll hope the people picking me up have the patience of Buddha. It’s 4:40, I should have landed an hour ago, I should be walking the streets of Havana talking like Hunter S. and seeing stuff – I’m going to have to squeeze the juice out of the Chinese tomorrow [this doesn’t really make sense without a picture attached, I’m glad I kept the picture. A little footnote: the word for orange in some parts of the DR is china, hence the joke]. Back to reading/sleeping. At this rate I’ll finish Infinite Jest today and start Ham on Rye.
8:20 I’m through security, at the gate where it says “Havana 21:35 ON TIME.” Security actually asked me if I wanted my passport stamped – “No, thanks” with a sheepish smile. From the first delay this [Cuban] gentleman and I kept running into each other, and we ended up at the same bar after security. I saw a Budweiser, but a $7 price tag told me to wait for the states to get price-gouged out of my face. He told me only good things about the country of Cuba. He’s actually from Tenerife [nowhere near Cuba] but has a woman here [Cuba] and works most of the time for hotels here. The houses cost $30,000 now, but you have to be Cuban (like his woman). Not a bad place to have a life, I’d say.
December 1 – 10:45pm Caribbean, in air
PRECONCEPTIONS : I’m thinking about this on the plane – all my expectations for this trip to Cuba and my hopes and dreams for how cool and different it’s going to be, and how pointless all these expectations are to have. It will not turn out the way I think and on December 8 I will have no idea what I thought I thought about Cuba right now. Still with me? This came up in my exit interview yesterday – whether my experience was better or worse than I expected. I had a horrible rambling answer because I didn’t know what to say. Before I arrived [to the Domincan Republic], what I knew about Santo Domingo fit on a Wikipedia page, and probably was dominantly centered around the Average Temperature chart. Where am I going with this? Oh, yeah…
In every novel experience I’ve had, I’ve left with a knowledge that I knew nothing beforehand, at the very least. My fears of robbery, language and cultural barriers, boredom, over-my-head-edness, and exchange rates get proven vastly unfounded and overblown. In the end, I find out people aren’t really that much different anywhere, a smile and appropriate flirtation and a valiant attempt to sound local will get one 95% of the way with people, and I’m never as alone as I expect to be. As much of a solo traveler that I am, I find it too incredibly predetermined (not right word) [didn’t change word, still don’t know what to say] that I’ll meet good people along the way. The cities and places turn out to be so much more alive than photo galleries and articles describe (funny how that works), and I depart with a sense that I’ve accomplished something that I can’t quite even place yet. Best hopes for this trip, but going to take out the expectations this time around.
Watch me get robbed and spend the whole time alone because nobody likes me and they changed their official language to Portugese.
[Then comes my signature because I’m an ass who thinks he needs to sign something when it’s obviously his own handwriting in his own notebook that nobody else is going to see]