The Ambassdor from Egypt and an Upgrade to First Class
Journeys to Cuba almost border on the surrealistic. The flight was supposed to leave Miami for Havana at 0300 pm and it said on the ticket, one has to present at the counter at 1100 am.. crazy.. but inexperienced travelers might do that. I arrived there at 1 pm, to find that the line at check in was still very long that I can expect 90 minute wait. Psychologically I had prepared for all delays for this short flight that separates two countries and most importantly two psychologies as different Pluto is to Mars…
First check in is to check your documents. Obviously there is a relaxation of the restrictions. The man behind the counter looked my passport and casually asked, you have the licence, right? I was a little surprised and responded, no I am an Academic . the answer was, that is enough. No further check. And back to the last of the line.
Fortunately the gentleman who actually weights the luggage, since the charter company makes a lot of money on the weight of the luggage. No Cuban will go home with just 44 pounds of free luggage and shell out hundreds of dollars to take extra goods for friends and relatives and wait patiently at both ends to reach the arms of their waiting friends. He saw me and motioned to me, putting up just a finger , meaning do you have only one piece of luggage. It is so very important to know the tricks of this direct flight to Cuba which is forbidden to all Americans who are not Cuban amercans…
My friend motioned me to come forward to the front of the line a full 90 minutes away. There were protests from those who were standing in line.
So he announces in a loud voice, This gentleman is the Ambassador from Egypt to Cuba, and quickly checked me in and passed me over to the lady sitting next to him who was assigning seats.
I had replied to this compliment by saying, yes ambassador plenipotentiary.. The lady next door might have heard it and not understood the joke of it, in any case, when I was handed the boarding pass, she had put me in seat 1B, which happens to be one of the eight first class seats in this aircraft, with the greatest advantage of no one sitting next to you and also no one with their heavy handbags nudging against your stomach. I noticed that three other seats were occupied by a diplomatic type (the real ones) from Brasil.
Welcome to Cairo
I said as I was leaving the ABC charters check in area..
I was thinking not of Mubarak but of the greatest jewish philosopher doctor, Maimonides who made El Kahira his home in the 13th century.