At the crack of dawn this morning, US students traveling to Cuba had already driven to BWI, checked in baggage, made it through security, grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich, boarded our connecting flight, and landed in Charlotte. Yes, it was early. However, the lack of sunlight did not darken our growing excitement. The first sight of the Cuban homeland drew a gasp of awe onboard flight AA 801, where 19 students and 3 chaperones eagerly peered out of the nearest windows. I for one was quite relieved to have finally reached our destination in Havana.
After collecting our luggage and avoiding any confrontations through customs, we met our CASE guide, Matt, and stepped outside into Cuba. We then immediately proceeded to strip down into shorts and t-shirts due to the shockingly warm air. 30 minutes later we were stepping off the bus and into our homes for the next three nights, Paradise Hostel. It was then that we realized we were extremely hungry from our travels. Matt introduced us to our Cuban guide, Dayan, who took us to lunch and helped us convert our dollars into usable Cuban pesos. We then returned to the hostel for an hour of free time filled with intense card games and genuine bonding.