On our last day in Cuba, we got up at 8 am, packed our bags and tried to figure out what to wear on the flight back to cold Norway. We spent a bit more money than expected the night before and realised that we might not have enough to pay for the casa and other things we might need on the trip back to Havana. So again we went to the bank, and again there was a long line in front of all of them. We picked the one with the shortest line, and actually managed to get money in less than 30 minutes. This was a “tourist bank” in the main street, so the procedures for withdrawing money was a bit easier.
We got back to the casa, paid our bill and gave away whatever we had left that we didn’t need to bring back to Norway (shampoo, soap, flowers, flashlight etc.). We also got a couple of sandwiches and some cold water for the trip. Just when we started to pack our stuff into the car, Pedro, José and his wife came to say goodbye. They were a bit delayed since José’s wife was recovering from back surgery, and wasn’t able to walk very fast. But they made it just in time, and we gave them a copy of all the pictures from the weekend. Instead of saying goodbye, we said “hasta luego” (see you later), which made it a little less sad. We had exchanged contact information, and hope to stay in touch until next time.
Around 10.30 am, after loads of good wishes and warm hugs we managed to leave and head towards Havana. We stopped along the highway after a while to eat our sandwiches, and shortly after that we picked up a hitch hiker. He seemed very happy with hitching a ride with a quite new car with air condition, instead of sitting in the back of an old American pickup or similar. He didn’t speak English, and was sitting quietly in the back trying not to fall asleep. About half way we stopped for a short break, and managed to talk to him a little bit. He was going to Holguin (quite far), so he wanted us to drop him of where we left the highway. From there he explained (in Spanish) the easiest way to get to Malecon, and we made it there almost without mistakes. Just as we left the highway the fuel lamp started blinking, and after a small detour we didn’t dare running out of fuel, so we stopped at a gas station, using most of the CUC we had left. That was a good idea, because they used the same car to take us to the airport later. Originally we were supposed to deliver the car at the airport, but that was too difficult for the rental company in regards to the paperwork and the deposit. So we went back to the cruise port where we picked up the car, and arrived there around 12.45 pm, 15 minutes earlier than agreed. When we got there the office was closed, and it was almost 13.30 pm when they came running back, worried that we would be late for our flight. But we had plenty of time, so we even let someone else get ahead of us in line, and just spent a little more time looking out on Havana before we left.
We arrived at the airport a little over 3 hours before our flight (they recommend 3 hours for international flights), and our driver was very grateful for the 4 AA batteries we had left in the car. We changed from sandals to more winter-friendly shoes before we went into the terminal. They were just opening the check-in as we arrived, so we got in the line early and were checked in and ready to go a lot sooner than expected. Our flight was a bit delayed, but they said from the start that we would arrive on time in Amsterdam. We were seated next to a nice Norwegian, and had a nice talk with him until dinner, and after that it was time for a movie, a red wine and trying to get tired (it was midnight in Norway when we left Havana). We were able to snooze a little bit, but were quite tired when we arrived in Amsterdam at 9 am. We had less than 1,5 hours there, which was perfect. At 12.10 pm we arrived in Norway where it was snow and -3 degrees Celsius. It’s often a lot colder there in January, so we were quite happy with that. Now the only challenge was to stay awake as long as possible, so that we would be able to sleep through the night and go back to work the next morning. 🙁