Return to the frozen north

My flight didn’t actually leave Havana until after 4 p.m., so I was able to spend the morning getting ready and doing a last walk around Centro Habana.

After convincing the hotel to let me stay an hour after checkout, I got a taxi to the airport. This time I checked in two bags so I would have no problems with my “carrion” being too heavy. I converted my remaining convertible pesos back to Canadian dollars, paid the departure tax, and went to wait for the plane at the gate. It was all very smooth.

The flight left on time, and they told us we would be back in Montreal in just three and a half hours, ahead of schedule, due to strong tail winds. So far so good. But then we took off through thick clouds and as we kept climbing higher, we remained in clouds. They kept not turning off the seat belt sign. And then the fun began. We began bumping through some areas of turbulance, and it got stronger and stronger. The pilot came on and told us to stay in our seats as we would be going through some turbulance. We began plunging and heaving from side to side. The teenage girl behind me was screaming. Soon the flight attendants were making their way up and down the aisles collecting full barf bags in both hands. I’ve certainly experienced worse, and I never actually felt sick myself, but it still wasn’t fun.

Worst of all, as it kept up, people couldn’t go to the toilets. At last it calmed enough that there was a line-up of people to go to the washrooms. And they announced that there would not be time to serve the meal. When the plane finally touched down on the icy runway in Dorval, there were cheers and applause.

Customs was easy, and they gave me no hassle over the fact that I had 51 cigars as the store had thrown in an extra beyond my limit of 50. But the icy air outside came as a shock. I had left my winter coat in my car, so only had a light hoodie to keep me warm as I waited for the bus to take me to Park ‘n Fly, and it was somewhat below -20C. It was only about a 10 minute wait, but it seemed like ages, especially as my cold was flaring up.

I got to my car, and it took a while to get it brushed off and for the worn-down battery to grind the engine to a start. The roads were icy and slippery and confusing, and I was tired and cold, and it was dark. I was hungry, having not eaten since breakfast. I began the two-hour drive back to Ottawa. By the time I made it to bed, it was past 1 a.m., but at least I could sleep in my own bed. I would have to be up early to begin work the next day.

About Richard McGuire
Richard McGuire is a part-time photographer and photography enthusiast based on Ottawa, Canada.

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