We’re leaving today… but not yet.
First there is packing and reflecting before a long goodbye.
Packing is easy. We have much less to take home than we brought. All the gifts and Sunday school materials and the sweets and toothbrushes have been replaced by Havana Club, cigars and Che Guevara t-shirts.
We’re joined by the moderator of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba’s youth organisation. I’m sorry, but I can’t for the life of me remember his name!
We talked a little about their youth work activities and presented him with a celtic cross, hand-made by a member of Angela’s church in Nairn. Our young people also collected their remaining spending money, more then 100cuc, and gifted it to be used to help in youth activities.
For the rest of the time we have a lazy morning. Some people went outside, topping up their tan, or in my case still trying desperately to get one. Others are inside playing cards or chatting quietly.
Lunch is a surprise, well not really… it’s rice and beans.
After lunch we are joined again by the moderator of the Synod and for the first time by the minister of Luyano Church for an evaluation.
There are few complaints but a few suggestions, mostly about planning. The response… this is Cuba. And they are right I suppose.
The things that frustrate about Cuba are the things that define it.
There seems never to be a plan… but that means that the people are relaxed and spontaneous.
It’s hot and humid… but that means that life is slow and never rushed.
The poverty is obvious… but that means that people concentrate on each other rather than their possessions.
The political situation is oppressive… but that makes Cuba the peculiarity that it is.
The group (left to right) Eilidh, Jen, Anaitza (our host), Matthew, Alison, Erik, the Moderator, Shona, Katie, Rob, Avril, Me and Dyana (our translator). Angela took the photo.
Luis and our Cuban friends took us to the airport, one final ride in the bus along the potholed roads of Havana.
Check in took ages and wasn’t helped by the only impatient person we met on our whole trip, our check in person. And then it was time to say goodbye but I think we were glad to be heading home. The flight was the usual East-bound transatlantic overnight flight. The flight was full so there was no chance to spread out and get some sleep. Just a doze after watching Angels & Demons. Breakfast was the strangest breakfast ever… chicken, honey and mustard wrap. Seriously Virgin, a croissant and a coffee would be a whole lot better. Even the staff were embarrassed.
There is much about Cuba I like. I love the architecture, the sun, the vibrant colours and the people. But for me the highlight was something we brought with us. The group of seven young people we had the pleasure of travelling with were warm, open, friendly and funny, a credit to their church and to their country.