Your man in Havana
Rob & Frances Lythgoe
Fri 11 Mar 2016 16:50
Officialdom in communist countries are something that anyone would be naturally wary of, and so we were of Cuba. We needn't have been. The officials were very quick, friendly, super efficient and wouldn't even accept a drink from us. We were boarded by the Guarda Frontera (Coast Guard), customs, immigration, health department, agriculture department, a vet and the harbour master. Most of them were on the boat before we had even finished securing our shore lines on the quarantine dock. I missed one, we were also boarded by drug enforcement, which was a delightful cocker spaniel whose name we can't remember. His handler took him round the boat and in to most of the more easily accessible cupboards; he was a lovely little chap.
For reasons that we don't understand we had all of our emergency flares taken from us. They gave us a receipt and we will get them back when we leave, but I'm not sure what they thought we might do with them. We then had our satellite phone 'decommissioned', satellite communications are illegal in Cuba. When I say 'decommissioned', I mean a plastic bag put over the handset and brown tape wrapped around it so that we can't see the numbers on the handset! Again, Im not sure what they think a visitor might do with a sat phone, start a revolution maybe in which case they may take down the cellular and land networks to stop all communication? I can see that a sat phone is outside of their control and so a bit scary, but if I were minded to start another revolution I don't think that the plastic bag and the sticky tape would stand in my way! We also lost one apple to the agriculture ministry because it was decided that it might have a worm in it. It was placed very carefully in a plastic bag and removed from the boat. We both passed our medicals and were free to move Alia Vita to her berth further inside the marina. All quite entertaining really.
That afternoon John and Elaine arrived from the UK as planned. We had a night on the boat and the following day left Alia Vita for our pre-planned land tour of Cuba. So far it is VERY interesting. I'll let you know how we get on.