About to Leave Cuba

Slate of departing flights out of Terminal 3 of the Jose Marti Airport in Havana

Luis Rondon Paz

HAVANA TIMES – This is the first time I travel abroad, quite an adventure and experience for a Cuban who has only had the opportunity to see part of the world via Internet.

But it’s not the same seeing the world from a computer screen as a live experience with the chance to meet people, see their culture, and learn other ways of life. I’ll be in the city of Prague, Czech Republic studying in an intensive Video-Journalism workshop.

The procedures for obtaining a visa for the Czech Republic compared to the Consular Office of the United States of America, were as different as night and day, for example:

When I called first by phone to the Czech Embassy in Havana to request the visa interview, I learned that all the information I had sent electronically to the organization which offered me the scholarship in Prague, were in the records of the Consular Office. They also informed me that everything related to the documentation required for travel to Europe was covered.

I only had to wait a week for the interview.

The day of the interview, I found myself in the company of several people from different regions of Cuba who obtained a scholarship in Prague. We were greeted by the Consul, who with kindness and exceptional attention received our passports and immediately guided us step by step as to the procedures for obtaining permission to enter the Czech Republic.

Despite the sweetness of the consular officer, and being a totally different embassy, in my mind remained vestiges of the humiliating experience at the United States embassy in Havana last May. So it was natural to feel a little uneasy, until the Consul told me to come back in a week to pick up my passport with the visa.

Today July 8, I am traveling to Prague from Havana, an 11-hour plane flight to Moscow and then two more hours to the city of Prague in the Czech Republic.

To be continued…

7 thoughts on “About to Leave Cuba

  • Perhaps you’ve forgotten about all the planes that Americans hijacked to get to Cuba until the Revolution stopped taking them in.

  • Yet interestingly enough, the Gulfstreem not withstanding, no one is taking a to raft to float to Cuba, it’s the other way around. Why would that be?

  • This is not the forum to debate whether or not the US is “falling apart” or not. This is Havana Times. But the fact is the US economy is the most robust economy of the larger countries in the world. The USD is at an all-time high against most other currencies. Personal and property crime rates are lower than they have been in 40 years. You should check your facts. Your anti-US bias is not based in reality.

  • You make me laugh. You say your country is “excepcional”. Is that meant as a joke or what. Get your head out of the sand. Do some reading. Watch some news. Dead bodies everywhere! Guns galore. Not much “excepcional” in that. Seems like the place is falling apart.

  • Hardly an apology. More like an explanation. However, if an apology were warranted, I have no problem with that. The US is far from perfect. What makes us excepcional is that we we air our dirty laundry for the world to see and criticize. We accept the criticism and make changes where we can. Cuba would do well to adopt such a policy.

  • Why must you always apologize for the United States???

  • It would be interesting to note how many people seek visas to travel to the Czech Republic in comparison to the US. On top of that, a comparison between how many foreigners visiting the Czech Republic overstay their visas and fail to return home versus foreign visitors to the US. I would bet that the differences between the two countries would begin to explain the different embassy experiences.

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