Well, when I last left you, I was at the Vancouver airport boarding my flight.

Let’s see what happened the rest of the day, shall we?

Skipping the line

There are virtually no direct flights from Vancouver to Cuba with most of them either flying through Mexico City or through Cancun.

My first flight to Mexico City took around 5 1/2 hours.

The flight started boarding at 9pm and, like clockwork, the entire crowd waiting stood up and formed a ridiculously long line.

As I was about to head to the back of the line, I heard my name announced over the PA to come to the desk to confirm my documents.

I can only imagine it was because I kind of only “half” checked in for my flights online.   I was able to checkin for this flight but wasn’t able to do it for my 2nd flight to Cuba because I needed to acquire a Cuban tourist visa at the airport in Mexico first (which, by the way led to a ridiculous adventure later).

Anyway, I went to the desk and showed them my passport and online checkin and, after confirming I am who I am, they let me board the plane.

Yup, I found a way to bypass the line!

I also was randomly placed in an aisle seat near the front so double win there!

Our flight was supposed to depart at 9:30pm but, because of the icky weather, we sat on the tarmac for almost an hour before we finally left Vancouver.

A sad, little dinner

The flight included a light snack of a ham and cheese sandwich with a small salad and a blueberry muffin.

There was no choice to preorder a gluten free option so I ended up giving my muffin to my neighbor and ate the tiny piece of ham I peeled off my sandwich and the tiny salad.

I spend most of the flight passing the time by watching the new Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning only to find out that it’s only part one and you don’t get a finish to the movie.

Talk about cliffhangers!

By the time we were on our descent, I was starving.   I hadn’t really eaten anything in over 12 hours and I needed some food in me.

Mexico Airport Adventures

Oh my God, where do I start?

First of all, despite departing almost an hour later than we were supposed to, we actually landed a few minutes ahead of schedule.   I have no earthly idea how they did it, but they did.

Anyway, we landed at 3am Vancouver time which is 5am in Mexico.

I had a 4 1/2 hour layover before my next flight and, thank God I did, because it took awhile to get to my gate.

First of all, despite just transiting through the airport, I still had to go to immigration with everyone else.   The line was long and took just over a half hour to get through.

Next was a security line to xray my bags.

After that, it was supposed to be a simple walk up the escalator to what I assume were the gates but I had a roadblock in front of me.

Remember how I hadn’t officially checked into my 2nd flight?   Yeah, well, I had to make a detour.

No escalator for me!

Nope, I had to exit the security area, get a visa, check in, and then go through security again.

Oh, what fun!

Getting the Cuban visa wasn’t that hard.   A man directed me to the exact counter I had to go to and, after forking over $20USD, I had an official Cuban tourist visa.

Next step was to checkin.

Again, another guy pointed me to the counter I was supposed to checkin at.   I was kind of wary because this line was much, much smaller than the huge winding line next to me, but I followed his instructions and stood there.

In front of me were 6 people followed by 2 police officers.   I assumed the last person was being deported and the police were escorting her through the checkin process.

After waiting for awhile and not seeing the line move, I decided to try to checkin online again now that I had my visa.

It looked like I was successful so I popped out of line to ask a nearby attendant if, indeed, I was checked in.

Sadly he said no and told me I had to get back in line.

Oh well, it was alright.   I had plenty of time.

I popped back in line and a few minutes later, the entire line left with the 2 police officers.   Huh, I guess they were all getting deported.   Wow.

So, no line now.   I was next in line for counter 55.   The passenger being helped left and I went up to the counter as the attendant left.


Is she coming back?

It was here that I realized I was actually supposed to be in the big line next to me and I had, inadvertently, stood in this separate line that was obviously just the police with their deportees skipping the line.


I mean, honestly, it was an honest mistake.

Luckily, I was able to show the attendant at the next counter my online checkin and she confirmed that I had, indeed, successfully checked in online and didn’t need to stand in line.

Okay, enough of that fiasco.

Off to security!

By now it was 6:45am and I had been going through hoops for an hour and half already.

It was exhausting but I was so thankful I wasn’t in a time crunch of this experience would have been super stressful.

Soon after, I got to the front of the security line.

Like clockwork, I placed all my toiletries in a tray and my laptop in another along with my two bags.

I still had water in my water bottle and needed to dump it somewhere.

Looking around, I saw nothing.   No garbage.   No sink.   Nothing.

The guard then told me I had to drink it or leave the line and head out of security to dump it in a nearby washroom.

You have got to be kidding me!

Come on!

Well, the bottle was almost full so there was no way I was gonna be able to drink it all so I reluctantly hopped out of line and headed out.

Thankfully the guard let me place my bags and my two trays on a side table so I didn’t have to reload and unload everything again.

He also let me bypass the line when I returned so it wasn’t as back as it could have been but, damn man.

A little cherry on top of the whole experience was I forced to throw out my face wash because it was over 100ml.

Stupid regulations with liquids.   Don’t even get me started.


Okay, all is good with the world.

It was 7am and I was finally heading to the gates.

I still had 2 1/2 hours to spare…

Breakfast of champions

Once I was through security, the first thing on my list was to find some food.

I was so hungry at this point.

I also wanted to buy a bunch of water bottles to take with me to Cuba as I’ve heard bottled water is hard to come by and I wanted to make sure I had at least some bottles that I could fill with boiled tap water once I got there.

Wouldn’t you know, I found both at a 7-11 in the airport.

Now, I’m not proud of my breakfast but, you know, it’s really, really, hard to find things to eat at the airport when you have a gluten allergy.

I long for the days where you could just grab a sandwich or a burger.   Damn, I miss those days.

My new reality is searching high and low and ending up with a sad, pathetic option for food.

Well, when I saw the hot dogs sitting on the conveyer belt at the 7-11 I knew I had found my breakfast.   I scooped them up sans bun and went to the cashier.

On the bright side, I didn’t have to search high and low for food today.

Now, I want you to picture me with two backpacks, one on my back and the other slung over my shoulder, while trying to carry two hotdogs and four large bottles of water.

Yeah, that was me at 7 this morning.

I got out of 7-11 and literally walked 5 feet and planted myself on the floor next to a shop.

I was tired.   I was hungry.   And I just wanted to stop and relax for a second.

I ended up eating my hot dogs while sitting there in the hallway just laughing at how absurd the last few hours had been.

But, ya know what, it was an adventure and I’ve always said, I’m all about the different adventures I come across when I travel.

Besides, what would I have written about here if that didn’t all happen?

Oh yeah, I also bought potato chips that I thought were gluten free but the back of the bag said “con Gluten” which mean “with Gluten”.   I discovered it after eating one chip so, yeah, that happened too.

On to Havana!

At 9:30am, we were finally off to Havana.

As with my first flight, I left my seat assignment up to chance as I only really fork over the extra money to choose my seat on the long haul (8+ hour) flights.

My seat assignment was seat 9A which, while not an aisle which I prefer, was at least not a middle seat.

To my surprise, though, no one else plopped their butts down in either seat 9B or 9C which meant I had the whole glorious row to myself.

Of course it only happened on a short 2 hour flight but, hey, at least I was able to kick back and stretch my legs outs.

The flight actually arrived a half hour early at just after 1pm and soon we were disembarking into the hot Havana sun.

Man, what a difference 24 hours makes.

Once in the terminal, I quickly found a washroom to change into tshirt and shorts before joining the immigration line.

Because the airport is small and I was near the front of probably the only arriving plane, it only took a few minutes to get through immigration and out of the airport.

Taxi to town

As I exited the airport, I was almost immediately approached by a taxi driver.   Shocker, I know.

Normally I just shoo them away as I really try to avoid taxis as much as I can and try to get from point A to point B using local transit.

The last time I was in Havana, I did exactly that.   While it was a cheap bus ride (25c) compared to the cost of a taxi ($30), it was long and uncomfortable.

This time around, I told myself that I was going to free up my money a little.

I’m not going to nickel and dime everything.   I’m going to stay in private rooms mostly and eat at nicer restaurants.

And, I’m going to be taking taxis from time to time.

This was one of those times.

Before I hopped in though, I had to pickup the sim card I had previously bought online while I was back home.

My taxi driver guided me across the street to where the ETECSA office was and waited for me while the girl inside set up my sim card on my phone.


Internet shouldn’t be a problem on this time unlike the last time I was here.

The ride to my hostel was about 40 minutes and he took me directly to my front door.

On the ride over he asked if I wanted to exchange some dollars for pesos.

I was expecting this as this kind of trade is done alot on the streets as you get a much better rate than the “official” exchange rate.

My online app said I should get 275 pesos for $1USD so when he quoted me 220, my first instinct was to turn him down and look for a better deal.

And then I thought about it.

The different in exchange between 220 and 275 was the equivalent of about $5.

Did I really care about $5 that much?


I’m telling you.   It’s a new leaf being turned over!

I exchanged $10 worth and, sure enough, when I arrived at the hostel, the lady at the front desk said they do the exchange for 250.

It was 2:30pm and I had finally arrived at my casa.

As for the rest of day, check out part 3 here.

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, On My Way, Havana, Cuba
Cuba 2024
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