9th September 2014 - Havana
Our third and final day in Havana and our luggage has arrived, hoorah! It's surprising how little you can actually get by on when you have to. It also makes me realise that I've packed loads more stuff than really necessary, but it's good to have a change of clothes at last.
Friday 7th September 2014 - Malaga to Paris
I suppose I should start at the beginning. So day one starts at 6am, arriving very excited at Malaga Airport at 7am for our 9.45 flight to Paris. The flight was delayed by an hour which meant cutting it very fine to make our connecting flight to Havana. A new experience for me in Paris seeing 'LAST CALL' next to my flight number and realising that the gate we had just landed at was about as far from the gate we needed as it's possible to be; Gate C4 to L48, or something like that. We limped and puffed our way as fast as we could to the departure gate, to be told by the attendant that she had just cancelled us from the flight! We stood there dumbstruck for a few long seconds staring through the glass at the plane, then she said 'I can put you back on'. Oh the relief! She proceeded to tap away at the computer and we were on. It struck me that if she had 'cancelled us' then they'd probably removed our luggage too. 'What about our bags?' I said. 'Erm, I'll try to get them put on, go.go, run' she said. We ran. We took our seats and the plane began to move - not much time to reload luggage.
The plane was enormous. A 777, I think. The last time I was on a plane that big was way back before the Internet was born, so the personal touch-screen entertainment centre was a revelation.
I've never been able to sleep while travelling, be it by car, boat or plane but the first 5 hours went by eating, reading and watching 2 films back to back. Finally I could tolerate no more sitting, so decided to do a couple of laps of the plane and discovered a kind of self-service cold drinks area and a huge box of mini ice-creams, to which people were helping themselves. I returned to my seat and proudly proffered said ice-cream to a sleepy Ken.
For me the second half of the flight was the most uncomfortable; desperate to sleep but unable to, fidgety through sitting too long and surrounded by hundreds of other uncomfortable people and the smell of their farts. - Get me off this plane!
Finally, we touch down in steamy Havana. My first thought was 'damp'. Everything smelt and felt damp, the baggage reclaim area, in fact the whole airport needed wringing out.
We stood by the luggage carousel in the vain hope that our bags would make an appearance, which of course they didn't because they were enjoying a mini-break in Paris.
It's funny the things that strike you as odd in a different country or culture. The arrivals hall in Havana was swarming with customs personnel all dressed in tan uniforms. Most of them were young females and all of them wearing patterned black tights. Are they mad? In this heat!
There were two little brown and white Spaniels wandering around the arrivals hall. I'm used to seeing people and their pets at Malaga airport but of course these weren't pets, they were working.
Thank God we speak Spanish. We were told to go to the 'Oficina de reclamaciones' to report our missing bags. It wasn't hopeful, it didn't look good. It seemed nobody was interested much less cared. However a list was found, our names were at the top, they knew our bags had not made the journey with us. I felt a little more hopeful. We were given a reference number and told that an Air France flight came every day and our bags would probably arrive the next day and be at our hotel the day after that. We both had a change of undies in our hand luggage but no wash kit. Ken's medication was in his hold bag, doh! Note to self; next time pack all essentials in hand luggage.
Having dealt with the lost bag situation, we were eager to leave this damp hell hole and not miss our hotel transfer. We were in such a hurry that we forgot the advice to change our money there rather than at the hotel. No time to go back now, so without a cent to buy a bottle of water we headed to our bus. Thankfully the bus was air-conditioned and we met a lovely Irish couple , 'the Kennies'. We didn't understand a single word they said.