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…