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

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, March 2, 2007

Everything amuses me this morning. Toilet paper can get flushed away. I can drink water from the tap. The newspaper is in English. Bagels for breakfast.

I catch myself saying to Stephen and Alison that we may have stayed too long in Cuba. Certainly I didn't anticipate using all our medical supplies up. But beyond the stress of various illnesses, I think once we lost our nuclear family rythm -- began eating out for dinner with our parents and lost the shelter of our nightly routine-- we lost some of the natural recuperative power the casa particular system provided.

Six weeks ended up being just a bit too long, especially after this flight delay. I can see it in the attitude in a few of my last journal entries. I can certainly see it in the drained demeanour of the family when they get up.

We spend the morning repacking again. Our bottle of 15-year-old dark rum has exploded in one of the bags. The glass has disintegrated into tiny little shards in its plastic bag, so that I might not have noticed the damage without the smell of rum, which permeates all the contents.

Our limo from Alison's place on the Danforth to the Toronto airport is a curious experience. It's minus 3 outside -- 33 degress colder than our cab drive yesterday at this time to the airport in Havana. Beyond the stark winter scene of snow and bare branches rolling past the windows, I'm affected most by the absence of people, the vast wasted space in this city. We drive the highways for 45 minutes across town and the cityscape just seems so... lonely.

There's no shortage of people at the Air Canada check-in counter. Our flight in two hours has already been delayed, as have almost all the flights, by more than an hour. We deposit ourselves at the end of an intimidatingly long line. So much for my ambition to do a less busy mid-day trip.

Cubans handle line-ups better than Canadians, but we still have some pleasant little connections with our fellow detainees. One family from Victoria are just getting back from a stay at Varadero. Like us, Maria and Mike travelled with their kids and their parents. But Maria's mom is from Cuba, so it's a different kind of perspective they have. Her mom became almost the official bank for the staff at the hotel. Tourists frequently tip in their own currency, and Cuban banks will not exchange coin, so Cubans have to rely on the kindness of foreigners to do the transaction. This confused me my first week, when I'd have Euros and Loonies waved in my face. Why is this Cuban offering me $2 CDN?!

Just writing about the last day makes me tired, so I'm going to skim the next 12 hours. Despite rude and kind gate people and fog, we eventually cross the continent to the Pacific and run the length of the Vancouver airport, strong-arming through security to take the last 3 seats on a Dash-8 for home. I guess they figured since it was 3-hours delayed already, another 5 minutes wasn't going to hurt. It's another 48 hours before our bags catch up with us in Victoria.
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