We spent eight days and seven nights in one of the most beautiful and historic countries in the world but at some point the adventure had to end, or so we thought. We started our final Sunday morning at 9 a.m. to do a quick final shoot around Havana to get last minute footage of the people and the city’s streets before we headed to the airport for what we hoped would be a pretty simple and quick flight back to the U.S. Boy were we wrong!
Our arrival at the airport had us all puzzled! When we arrived in Cuba, the airport was tiny and cramped so we knew something was not right. That’s not where we were! Looking around made us realize that we were at terminal 3 which is the largest airport in Havana and is used for International flights and was inaugurated by Fidel Castro and Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1998. Finally realizing we were at the wrong terminal we hopped back in our taxis and made our way back to quaint but familiar terminal 2. There were hundreds of people waiting outside for flights to arrive and depart. Once we made sure we had all arrived we started to make our way inside only to be hit with the harsh reality of Cuba’s traveling standards. (Click here for an article about traveling to/from Cuba)
Lines were extremely long and ticket counters kept closing just so the agents could get a few minutes to play catch up with tagging bags. It became pretty clear to us that we probably wouldn’t make our 2p.m. flight. Thanks to the help of our amazing tour guides from Spanish Studies Abroad, we were able to progress through the lines faster than most people but still it took some time.
Eventually we all made it through customs, but as the hours passed, the news did not change. Finally we saw that our new flight time would be 4:30 pm. We knew this would hinder our 8pm connecting flight to New York .
After what seemed like days instead of hours we lined up to catch the bus onto the runway to our plane. Our flight was through Swift Air, however the plane’s logo said Intel, but at this point we were just happy to be headed home so no one asked questions. Once seated, we were literally slapped in the face by the heat. The plane’s air conditioning stopped working. It probably would have been bearable if the plane would have taken off right away, but if you haven’t guessed by now, it didn’t! We sat on the runway for another 50 minutes before we finally took off.
Upon arrival, most had connecting flights, so everyone rushed off the plane to head through customs and to baggage claim. By the time we got our bags it was already time for our flight to New York, so as you can imagine…we didn’t make it.
Now we we’re stuck. (Not complaining! If you have to be stuck somewhere, Miami is the place to be ) Our professors got on the phones right away making plans to try and get us on another flight, but since it happened to be Easter Sunday we had no such luck. Delta was booked solid through Monday. We gathered our belongings and headed to a hotel for the night to await further instructions. As you can see, there was still a little waiting involved but we handled it quite nicely.
Finally a light at the end of the tunnel! We got flights! Now don’t get too excited for us because they don’t leave until Tuesday. Half the students leave in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. There is a bright side to this story I promise. After all of the long hours, delayed flights, standing around, missed flight and waiting for confirmations, we stayed positive and resilient through it all.
While we will enjoy our time here in the city during this unplanned stop, we can’t forget that there is still a lot of work we need to get done starting now! We are going to take advantage of this opportunity and interview as many Cuban-Americans as we can find. So while we are back in the states, we are not done filming. And the news continues – see what Fidel Castro had to say about President Obama’s visit here
Stay tuned because we will be recapping more from our trip and our progress with our documentary in the coming posts.