Yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 17), a week and a half before we’re scheduled to fly from Miami to Havana, we received emails from Marazul (the travel “agents”) asking us to confirm the use of our pre-authorized credit cards and our mailing address. A second email notified us our travel packets were going out that evening.
Well, it’s just before 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 and they’ve arrived. My level of anxiety regarding the unknown travel factor has disappeared.
A photo of my portion of the packet is below. Avi received identical papers, except with his name on everything.
1. Our tickets for our flight booked by Marazul, chartered by Gulfstream Air, and provided by Sky King. The guessing game we’ve been playing these past few days about the type of aircraft we’d be on has been resolved as well. We’ll be flying a Boeing 737 with an allowance of 44 lbs. each. I’m anticipating we’ll be at 44 lbs. combined, since we prefer to travel light. ($349 each R/T)
2. A travel contract between us and Gulfstream Air, which we have to sign and hand in at the Miami airport.
3. Our Cuban Tourist Card, which cost $50 each.
4. A paper giving us information regarding our Cuban health insurance, which we are required to purchase in order to visit Cuba. Apparently we have $25,000 worth of coverage each, with $7,000 more for transportation home in the event of injury or death. All this for $3/day.
5. Our license from the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, making this a legal trip for humanitarian purposes.
6. Information on Cuban money exchange. Between the exchange rate and the exchange “premium” (thanks to the U.S. embargo discouraging U.S. dollars from entering Cuba), there’s a 20% loss when exchanging dollars for CUC’s. We could exchange our dollars into Euros here and then into CUC’s. But it all seems too complicated, and I’m not sure there would be that much in savings. We’ll see what we decide when we read this a bit more carefully.
7. A 17 page booklet from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control titled Cuba: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions Against Cuba. A pretty dry read. Most of the material doesn’t apply to us. It just speaks about who may or may not travel to Cuba and what we may and may not purchase there. At least it looks as though Avi can bring back some music.
This weekend we’ll be getting things out and in order for packing. It seems particularly important we not forget anything we need, since we’re not allowed to buy much in Cuba.