the hoofindex - rewind to the previous trip (beaching at Varadero) - fast forward to the following trip (visiting snr hoofs in Holland)
Day 18 - Hoof on the amazing race
On the plane we reflected on what was ahead for the Hoof and Hoof'ess. It was a day we likened to the tv show called The Amazing Race. We were flying from Havana to Cancun. We had an hour and a half between flights. This meant going through immigration to enter Mexico, collecting bags and going through customs, then checking into our next flight before it cut off which is usually about half an hour before takeoff. Then get back through immigration to exit Mexico for an American flight with all those additional checks. Then fly from Cancun to Houston going through the same in Houston with a transfer time of two hours before we fly onto Los Angeles. No worries huh?
So we landed in Cancun, and were quickly off the plane... frustrating thing was that we had to wait in the airport terminal bus until everyone was off the plane. To increase our frustration while most waited on the bus, the final few who were continuing on the plane to Mexico City were given boarding passes at the stairs. Each time the plane hostess had to look through the pile of boarding passes and check it against each passport. Meanwhile not knowing how busy it was inside the stress was increasing as we were worried we weren't going to make our connection. The terminal was less than 50 metres away and as Kiwi's we thought we could have just walked it.
Hoof'ess favourite plane - the Fokker 100
Finally we were off in the bus to the terminal - all 30 seconds of travel time. Then jumping off the bus we were about 6th in the queue, waiting as some security guard stood in the door blocking our way forward making sure no illegal immigrants got passed. Remembering back to last time we came through and the absolute chaos Cancun airport was - we were beginning to think we wouldn't make it. Already 20 minutes out of our 90 minute time had evaporated. Given the minimum 30 minute check in, we both were thinking we had 40 minutes left to get to the check in desk. The guard finally started letting us in and we bolted. Racing to immigration with our Spannish forms (hoping we'd filled them in right) we were about 2nd in the queue, and then switched into a newly opened booth. All sweet and we were racing off to the baggage claim. Both of us needed to visit the little boys/girls room - so a quick refreshment stop. The Hoof was first out and raced to the baggage - fortunately someone efficient was on this morning, already the bags were out and on the ground. So grabbing the bags I waited by the screening x-rays for the Hoof'ess. Then when she came back we were through no worries and I grabbed both packs, threw them over each shoulder and started to hike quickly out the doors. We had to actually leave the airport building, walk down the road a few 100 metres before going back into the airport building at the departures area. Racing up to the Continental desk there were no queues - they must have all already checked in and gone through! Once done we went to the "Into USA" security line and got checked over. Then we were through into the duty free area and gates feeling much better. Finally looking at our watches we had 30 minutes before departure - no worries, we managed to get through everything in 40 minutes. Must be a record for Cancun... possibly even the world!
After a quiet flight through to Houston we landed knowing this was our second quick turnaround - due to being the first landing within America we had to go through the full customs check and pick up of our bags - despite them being checked through to Los Angeles. However this was a continuing flight with Continental so we were not particularly worried but decided to move quickly. We should have been move worried, after standing about an hour in the immigration queue we still had a way to go. Finally we were through - stress levels were high and we had about 25 minutes until the plane was leaving, and boarding had already started. We started to really hurry, grabbing a cart and our bags from the carousel and jogged towards the security lines. A security guard flagged us to slow down... we thought we can't, we're going to miss our plane. We raced through arrivals security with no queues in 5 seconds and then we had to hang a right for transferring passengers, with 20 minutes to go we dropped off our bags at the transfer baggage station. We were somewhat concerned whether they would get our bags on our plane given they had 20 minutes to get it to the plane before it departed. Then with a little more than 15 minutes before departure we were at another security station for departures along with 30 others... no pressure. We sweet talked the large secruity lady to jump the queue and with about 12 minutes we were out of security and on the hunt for our gate. We were starting to feel more comfortable, until we discovered we were in terminal C, and we needed terminal D. Okay, Amazing Race again - we were off down the corridor past the C gates and towards the D gates with the Hoof'ess still carrying her shoes as there was no time to put them on again after security. With about 5 minutes to go we arrived at Gate D7 - there was about one person still sitting in the lounge so we just went straight to the air bridge, and a few seconds we were down the bridge and in the plane. About 2 seconds later the gate closed and the plane moved away. After a big sigh we were in our seats ready for our 3rd flight of the day.
Irony was that we were then stuck in what is best described as a airplane traffic jam. Out our windows we could see about 9 planes queued behind us and about another 4 out the side queued to our left - let alone those queued in front of us. Stuck there for about 30 minutes we were finally off to Los Angeles. Not long until we could go to Tony Roma's - since early on in the Cuba trip when our tastebuds started to desire something flavoursome we had been teasing each other with the prospect of Tony Roma ribs - possibly the best ribs in the world.
After a 3 hour flight we were back in LAX - and heading back to our favourite LA backpackers - Tradewinds. All this went smoothy and we were happily sitting in our room ready to head out to Tony's place. Then a meow... neither of us reacted at first but there was another meow. The Hoof thought that the Hoof'ess may have smuggled one of the Cuban resort cats in her pack! Meow... where is that coming from. Then out ventured this grey cat which had been locked in our room. Not another cat... and guess what, the Hoof'ess has already made a new friend.
Another damn cat... and this one won't leave the room!
Then it went psycho, all it wanted to do was lick Hoof'ess hair... joy.
Finally I dragged the Hoof'ess away from her new best friend (although had to leave it in our room because it refused to go out) and we headed off to Universal Studios and Tony Roma's. The Hoof'ess has never been to Universal so it was a must visit - the place is true Hollywood showmanship - bright lights, fancy shops, restaurants, bars and plenty of people. Best way we decided to get there without paying a fortune was the Metro Trains... undergound in earthquake prone LA... not sure about that! Additionally we were staying in Inglewood, there's a 2 Pac song about Inglewood isn't there? Taking the underground from Inglewood, through south central LA... interesting choice Hoof.
After about one hour and 15 minutes we finally reached Universal Studios, we didn't get mugged or worse in south central, and no earthquakes while we travelled under Hollywood. Needless to say after travelling so long in trains we were absolutely starving - our stomachs were about to go on strike. Once we got there, the trip was forgotten. If you've never been to Universal City, and checked out the Universal City Walk its a must do, especially in the evening. This place must have its own Nuclear power station because it is soo light, astronauts probably can see it from the space station. There are lights everywhere, imagine the Los Vegas strip condensed into a smaller walking mall.
The Hoof'ess was walking through like a Possum in headlights, not knowing where to look she was in facination.
After looking round for a while we found Tony Roma's - and headed straight in for some ribs! We were starving and absolutely monstered them.
Now that we had refueled the machines, we walked round a little more and headed into Abercrombe and Fitch for a look. The Hoof'ess loves this shop, and decided to purchase some goodies!
Hoof'ess with her Ambercombe goodies outside the Universal parking building.
We decided we couldn't be arsed doing another 75 minutes in the trains through south central and Inglewood in the dark so we took the train to central station and taxied back to the hotel. Much simplier and we were home in 30 minutes... a little better than the trip in!
It was 11pm and we decided before we went to bed we should make use of the free WiFi internet and upload Cuba - so after some issues we got most of the content up for Cuba, bar a couple of photos which just didn't want to work. Atfer the hassle of this update the Hoof decided it was time for a rework of the site to make it easier to navigate and upload. Incidentally it took a while to rework the site but the upload of the entire new site in Holland took less than 30 minutes! The Hoof's website skills must be improving!
Next day we were up early again, a 8am flight so no rest for the wicked. Nothing too exciting except that after 3 airport departures and probably 8 security checkpoints the previous day, today I got stopped - they wanted to check The Hoof's bag. They had seen something. The security lady hunted through my bag on a mission, out came Hoofy with a questioning look, the books, laptop parts, camera bag, checked the camera bag, mp3 player and headphones, documents, etc. Then finally she found what she was looking for. For Cuba we had bought some hand sanitiser, had been very useful but I had forgotten it and left it in a small front pouch. Oh well, Cuba was finished and we were off to cleaner countries!
After a quick stop off in Washington DC we were flying over the Atlantic towards Schipol airport in Holland.
What happened when we arrived in Holland?