Getting out of the country
We arrived in Cancun Thursday, and it was a crazy day!
We started in Canton at 4 a.m. with 20-degree weather and an ice storm in St. Louis and 10 hours later arrived in sunny 85-degree Cancun, Mexico. The icy weather caused our flight to be delayed leaving St. Louis, which then resulted in a mad dash to our connecting flight in Houston. It felt a bit like an episode of the “Amazing Race,” since we were split up into small groups and had only 10 minutes to make it all the way across the airport, even having to use a train to get to our departing gate. Luckily the airline was nice enough to wait for all of our passengers to arrive before taking off.
The warm temperatures in Mexico were not so welcoming at first, since we were all still layered for cold weather. This was compounded by the hour wait we had to get though customs. (Sorry no photos of this because cameras were not allowed.)
Our hotel, Hacienda de Castilla, was just off the main shopping strip in Cancun. It is a more traditional hotel (yet still very safe), and not the kind of palace on the beach you see in advertisements. It has American outlets, air-conditioned rooms and a decent pool. Being able to get into any pool in December will do for me. One thing it lacks is an elevator, which is something I did not plan on while packing.
A few of the students and I couldn’t wait to go see the city a bit and walked up to the shopping area. We were able to find a place to convert our American money to pesos. I got 120 pesos for $10.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a street vendor for empanadas for 4 pesos. They were absolutely amazing!
Upon returning to the hotel we gathered in the restaurant to eat dinner, which consisted of a chicken and vegetable soup with delicious noodles and tomato sauce, beans, steamed vegetables and beef strips with red peppers. They also served rice milk or water with dinner.
Final prep for Cuba
After dinner, Kent Miller, a professor, went over the different types of architecture we will be looking for in Cuba. He hopes that we will see some that dates back to the 1500s. And we expect to see a lot of art deco design.
David Carrothers, a professor, also spoke about Cuba’s communist system and how it differs from other countries. Students and I then took to the pool area to relax and write our reflections of the day.
All the travel was exhausting and everyone retreated to their rooms by 9 Thursday night.
We had breakfast this morning and now our bags are packed and we are headed to Cuba!
– By Jen Roberts