Our Last Trip to Cuba #3 Leaving Miami

On the morning that I was to leave with my mom to go to Cienfuegos and say our goodbyes to ailing elderly TiaLourdes, a nonagenarian aunt who is part Saint and something I'm still figuring out, my dad gets us to the airport for 11am, over two hours early for the flight.

Finding the gate of a plane going from Miami to Cuba is a very special challenge because there are no normal airlines flights (yet) just "charter" flights with carriers whose names are not memorable.  We find our gate by eliminating all gates that have a permanent name over their agents station. There it is, and we find problem #1.

There is no line. There should be a line of people stretching at least in a circle, probably even two circles spinning inside a larger ellipsis, all carrying large gusano bags of goodies for Cuba - toilet paper, pens, medicine, socks, garlic powder, asprin, dresses for quinceneras.

There is no one in line at our gate. This is not a good omen, I think and swallow down. Omen or not, we need to go say our goodbyes, we need to do this right. Castro and the communist revolution destroyed a lot of things, but not THIS family.

My mom and I present ourselves to an agent who has a laptop and asks us a three questions before sending us to the next gate where they weighed and tagged our luggage. Last time we went to Cuba my mom and I found out about things that you should NOT bring to communist Cuba unless you want to be hassled. This time we brought one bag each.  In a minute we are tagged and sent off, admonished that the flight has been moved to 11:30 so we should hurry.

This is news to us. Our flight was supposed to be at 2pm. Weird, but OK. We race 3/4 a mile down carpeted halls covered with posters that remind tourists how awesome Miami is.  About halfway through our walk my mom offers up that we don't REALLY need to leave Miami.

I shake my head. I cancelled classes, I told my students I was going to Cuba, I'm going.

Fine, fine, we keep walking until we hit a line where they are screening baggage and passengers with xrays and wands and mammograms and all that stuff.

My mom and I are among the youngest in line.  The woman behind us is older and frail and apparently she is  traveling alone, which is why a uniformed skyjack or whatever they are called is pushing her through screening.

When we get to the front my mom puts her things in a basket. I put mine in a basket and pause to take off the earrings I bought especially for this trip - shiny thin gold hoops. Just as I lean to put my earrings in my bag the skyjack jerk shouts at everyone to hurry up, and then takes it upon himself to push allll the baskets forward on the xray screening line, almost smashing my hand between baskets.

I step into the screener, do a jumping jack and assume a yoga pose just like they asked me to, and step out. My mom goes through quickly as well. The pushy man pushes the lady through whatever she had to be screened in then pushes past us.

Yeesh, my mom says, and I feel her anger.  We were totally ready to be disrespected in Cuba, but not here, not so soon,

As soon as we've collected our things I realize I'm missing an earring and it must have flown out when that asshat smashed everything forward.  I let it go and try on my singular earring as a bracelet.

It works and I admire it for a second. Maybe I will tell my people in Cuba that earring bracelets are the new thing. Maybe. Just get me there, OK?