Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Thursday, March 1, 2007

I can't imagine a day more exactly split between pleasure and discomfort.

Everything before mid-day is a joy. We luxuriate through a final Cuban breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee at our semi-outdoor dining room, followed by a farewell tour to our early-day haunts in Centro Habana. We have a nice visit with our first host Eumelia, who gives Lucy a little stuffed horse, then we swing by Julio and Elsa's, without whom Lucy's first-week illness would have been so much harder to bear.

We arrive at their door as the housekeeper begins her day. Her stunningly beautiful daughter has helped her carry over the records. I buy almost all of the three-dozen records, most of which are mid-century, in okay condition. While I'm flipping through them, the family gets a chance to visit. Lucy is finally polite to Julio. It's taken her six weeks to get past associating him with discomfort.

A final walk down the Prado brings us to Harris Bros to purchase some rum, sugar and coffee for gifts. The rest of the morning is spent ensuring we have everything packed and possess enough pesos to pay the $75 per head exit tax. We've arranged for our nice cab driver from this morning to drive us out to the airport -- for half the cost of our first airport cab ride. Lucy gets control of the camera for the ride, wasting our remaining batteries taking pictures of the back seat. We're too distracted by the conversation with the driver to heed her; Cab drivers are some of the most interesting and candid Cubans you'll meet. It's such a pleasant contrast to our first drive where Jonathan screamed for almost the whole 40 minutes.

At the airport, I manage to sweet-talk the Air Canada agent into letting us rebook on the Toronto-Victoria direct flight. Air Canada had rescheduled us onto a Toronto-Vancouver leg, which had us arriving home after midnight instead of 9pm. Half the staff at the check-in gets involved in the Spanish disucssion about whether he should do this, as technically there is insufficient time for our transfer in Toronto. In the end, the Cuban desire to work things out (and my pleas to arrive home before the children are zombies) overrides Air Canada policy.

Here endith the good part of the day.
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