mercredi 21 novembre 2012

A DIPLOMAT GOES HOME TO CUBA


A DIPLOMAT GOES HOME TO CUBA
I was the first one to board the short AA flight to Havana in Miami. As I would explain to you later, I do not wish to be the first to disembark at my destination.
After an extremely productive week with the Lakota, where else to relax and rejuvenate the mind than my beloved San Cristobal de la Habana?
Called the Agency in Miami and they were courteous and accommodated me on this flight to HAV.
I arrived at the Terminal D of MIA, fairly new and was surprised there were no large lines at the CUBA check in counter, normally teeming with overweight Miami Cubans with their obese luggage! (Bultos).
Was able to greet one and all, including the Porter, who has worked at the same job for the past 13 years, he had migrated from Santa Clara many years ago. My ticket was handed over and my friend checked me in, with a joking tone, Sr Embajador!
Many years ago when direct travel to Cuba was much more difficult (had to go to the airport 5 hours before and your papers were checked by Treasury Dept. agents!), impatient Cuban Americans, with their luggage larger than ever “bultos”,”chorrizos” would object if any one was given any sort of preferential treatment. I did not particularly like the prospect of standing in line for hours, and my friend would call me over the head of the line, over the objections of loud Cuban-Americans. Then he would announce, he is the Egyptian Ambassador to Cuba! I would courteously bow to the people in line as befitting of an Ambassador under Hosni Mubarak. So the joke stuck.




This time he checks me in and writes Diplomatico on the ticket, so the lady who assigns the seat (from American Airlines) would know which seat to assign me.. Today it was 4B
That is where I am sitting now.
The reason for the rather quiet lines at the check in has something to do with Obama whose Treasury Dept. has issued over 140 licences for group travel by Americans to Cuba! There were two large groups of Americans, one Jewish and other not, who were going to Cuba, to learn about the Cuban culture. They all had paid over 2000 dollars for this privilege of being among the Cubans. Hotel, dinners, ballet etc. and meeting with some professors or artists.
I am happy that the Yanquis can see the truth and beauty of Life in Cuba, rather than depending upon the extremely conservative views expressed in the American Media, especially in Miami. It used to be rare to see Yanks on this direct flight. Since Obamas ascension, the rate has increased and in fact on this flight the majority of the travellers were Americans, rather than Cuban-Americans who can travel freely to Cuba. Cuba welcomes all people.. All nationalities. More immigration changes are on the way and before long you would be seeing, well off Cubans from the island taking this flight to come and visit their relatives or go shopping in Miami, like many other Latin Americans do.
I have some good friends in the Cuban Diplomatic Corps and I admire them for the tireless task on behalf of this Little Island. But I have never claimed to be a diplomat of any country, even though I am often mistaken for one.
The results are usually good.
Upgrade to Upfront and on long flights it does make a difference.
{60 year old Jeep with a Lada Engine fit for any Ambassador! was waiting for me at the Terminal 2 of Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba}