We're lurking here at dusk tonight on a trendier-than-we-are South Beach in Miami, imagining the people we'll be with for our group tour to Cuba. Due to the restrictions I've written about, we'll be two of a party of nineteen for a weekend in Havana, starting tomorrow.
We're due to meet in a pre-dawn queue at concourse G Level 2 at the Sky King charter desk. Since we're new at the group tour thing, it's fun to consider how our group will get along. Here are my predictions, and we'll see how they stack up when we get back.
The short version is, all of us will become BFFs, compete in bitter high school personality politics, or something in between. I bet against the BFF scenario. Really, this group travel thing is so new to us that I don't know. Heading for our 106th country tomorrow, we've never once traveled with an organized group.
We've snickered alongside them, mind you. Especially at the little Asian packs that huddle together at every monument worth its salt anywhere in the world.
Besides us there will be seventeen. So I'll say, oh, seven of the seventeen will be somehow Cuban-related. No more, because relatives of Cubans have other avenues to visit the island. So the Cuban-related ones will be people, maybe, whose late mother or best friend was Cuban. The rest of us will be Americans, or mixed Latino/American couples. Of these remaining ten, all will be fairly well traveled, since Cuba takes some determination for Americans to see.
None of these people will be from anywhere besides America, since everybody from anywhere else in the world can already go to Cuba and needn't go through this Person to Person process. The Americans may come from anywhere across the country, all funneled through here in Miami, and no one will be on their first trip abroad. This package is priced to rule out youngsters, so our seventeen new friends will be mostly 40-plus.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio calls these trips "outrageous tourism, which, quite frankly, borders on indoctrination of Americans by Castro government officials." He may have my tender, indoctrinatable mind in mind. But I doubt it.
Anyway, I'll bet there will be at least two or three who will be acolytes of the revolucion. And the Castro fans – well, it's too late for the Senator to reach them. I suspect they'll thrill to the iconic Che signs and come back laden with revolutionary memorabilia.
Not saying there's anything wrong with that. I may do the same, especially if I spy a nice Che beret kind of thing. It'll go well beside my small collection of Afghan pakols, those caps that look like rolled up burlap that you'll find on the discerning Talabani, and which required determined hunting in the Istanbul Grand Bazaar.
Did you know they're adjustable to head size, by the way? I bought my collection of three in the shop of a gentleman who explained how to make your pakol larger or smaller. He assured me the finest pakols are made in Kandahar, where all his were from. You truly can buy anything in the Istanbul bazaar.
But I digress.
I imagine our indoctrinee(s) as female, and we'll have to see which of the other leftish stereotypes they'll display. While we're political, here, there will surely be at least a couple of crusty old conservative bastards and their wives, since our country is full of them nowadays, and it'll be fun to try to surreptitiously set up conflict between them and the Che girl(s).
In any group of seventeen I guess there are sure to be one or two complainers. Somebody will be too hot because, by George, it's 84 degrees. Somebody else will be on the trip unwillingly.
"George was determined to come down here. I told him he was crazy. They don't have toilet paper down here! Didn't I George? I said, who wants to go to Cuba? But did he listen? Did you George? George never listens."
So this will be fun. Maybe. Our plan is to be quiet, and be nice. And see what happens. Check back.