Before we could leave, we had to declare our reason for going to Cuba (we chose "support of the Cuban people") and have them check our visas. Then we could get our boarding passes stamped "Cuba Ready"
Waiting at the airport
Arriving in Cienfuegos
When we arrived, we were waiting in line to have our passports checked. First Milena's niece was pulled out of the line and taken into a small room. She came out a few minutes later, and they asked me to come in. They asked me a few questions including how much money did I have with me (they do not take American credit cards and ATM machines don't work with American debit cards, so we had to take all cash with us). They asked what my job and salary is. They asked why I was there, and I tried to explain that I have been friends with a Cuban family for over 30 years and wanted to see where they came from, but I'm sure he had no idea what I was talking about, so I said "Tourist." All of these answers went onto a blank piece of paper and he just continued to ask questions until a woman came into the room and said something in Spanish and they let me go. Once I was I got out of there I noticed that my group had made it through customs, but Milena's mom was there, chatting someone up. They asked Milena's mom if I was with them, and she said "Si" so I was free to go. Once I got on the other side, everyone was freaking out and asked what happened. I asked Milena's niece (also white) what they said to her and she said, "They just looked at my last name (which is Cuban) and let me go." It was a good story. I have no idea what they will do with that plain white paper with a few tidbits of information about me, but that was the only trouble that we had the whole trip. We were a little worried about traveling to Cuba after someone made an announcement that Americans are no longer allowed to go to Cuba, but then didn't make anything official, so we didn't know what to expect. But everything was fine.
The first of many classic cars that we saw.
Milena's youngest posing by the pool.
Street in front of the hotel
Milena's brother bought this beret and cigar before the trip and couldn't wait to do his Che Guevara pose. His mother was sufficiently freaked out to make it worth the trouble.
More to come...