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That time I almost missed Cuba

In 2016, after a year abroad I went back home only to realize that I wanted to leave again. The final destination would be Canada but I had a couple of stops planned first: Cuba and Mexico.

After several months of wait and preparation July 10th 2017 finally came and it was time for me to head over my first destination: Cuba. I’m usually pretty good with organizing my trips, but my head wasn’t really into it for this grand departure so I waited until the very last minute to do a lot of things or even completely forgot to do some.

That is what happened to my touristic authorization for Cuba. While looking for information about whether or not I needed a visa, the only thing I memorized was that I didn’t need one. The part mentioning that every french person wanting to stay in Cuba for a maximum of 30 days needed said touristic authorization just passed in front of my eyes and disappeared into the abyss of my brain.

I merrily got to the airport ready to board the plane, only to be refused access because of that missing authorization. I really thought that I would miss my flight and would need to buy another ticket. I gave myself about 2 minutes to freak out and then decided to see how Google could help me. Luckily I found a website saying that it was apparently possible to get the paper at Jose Marti airport, but it was un unnecessary risk to take because the airline was most likely not going to let me board the plane.

I decided to give it a try anyways and share the info with the airport agent. She was not very receptive at first and would still not let me go. So I just stayed on the side while everybody else was allowed to get on the plane, until I was the last person left. At that point I really thought this was it, but her superviser called her and I don’t know what was said but she let me in.

I was still a little worried about the situation and thought I could take advantage of my 7 hour layover at Moscow airport to try and figure it all out. Turns out all was well for the Russian authorities so there was not much I could do. All I could do was wait and get onto the next plane. So after a long and uneventful wait, I was indeed able to board the second plane without any issues.

12 hours later, I finally got to Cuba. Upon arrival I was a little if not a lot stressed out by that touristic authorization deal. I was already seeing myself at the counter buying a return ticket for Paris and messing up the rest of my travel plans. Fortunately, that fear of mine never came true. When I arrived at the passport control booth and told them that I didn’t have that specific paper I was just sent to another counter to get it. After paying 70€, I was able to go through and officially set foot on Cuban ground and think with relief: let’s the adventure begin!

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