Previous participants in this occasional travelogue know that I usually include pictures along with the text. In this case? Not possible due to dodgy internet connections. So all I have to offer are words and this image of the Cuban flag. Enjoy anyhow. Don’t know if I’ll be able to send more than this and one more.
Farewell to Miami. Milling around with the tour group, a most compatible group of folks, a couple of which expressed enthusiastic interest in my books and gobbled up some book marks, which of course certified their good taste.
Airport business taken care of, we were soon enough flying over the water, gazing down on those 90 miles traversed by so many refugees—and they’re still coming. Some still aren’t satisfied to stay and others aren’t happy to allow them to leave, so into the clandestine boats they go. The weather was calm, the sea was clear. Looked like you could even swim it okay if you practiced. Thought of those who had perished on all those leaky rafts.
To the flesh they once bore,
Drift with sandy tides
Singing of lives fled
Then, Havana airport. Passports, etc. a breeze. However, we could have gone back to Miami and returned in the time it took to retrieve our luggage. Nevertheless, we are fully suitcased here at Hotel Nacional, a landmark with a storied history of guests including stars, politicians, and gangsters.
Also, incidentally, guides and plaques to tunnels and barricades connected with the 1962 Missile Crisis. Apparently they were scared even more shitless than we were.
We had heard that all these grand palaces were crumbling old ladies, allowed to deteriorate under the Castros, but this one has been kept up for royalty. Not only in great repair, but with an air of luxury about it.
We had a great dinner–the size of those shrimp!–Then walked along that immortal sea wall, the Malecon, we’ve all seen in a dozen movies and read about in more books than that. Cuba, I think, has always been a part of my life all my life, whether in literature or film or in the news, so here it was spraying sea foam on me. And there, right beside the sea, a mighty tower commemorating the sinking of the Maine and thanking us all for helping them get rid of the Spanish. You’re welcome, Cuba, and have a good evening.