Our first day in Cuba was mostly spent just getting there, with a long wait for processing in the Miami airport. Waiting for our group to clear customs in Havana with their luggage gave me a chance to look all the old cars in the airport parking lot.
Our first stop after meeting our little tour bus and bird guide was to the home of a noted Cuban ornithologist (and author of the bird guide we would be using while in Cuba) Orlando Garrido. He talked with us for over an hour in rapid-fire English about the 26 endemic bird species of Cuba, showing us his own preserved specimens and making a few comments about the habits and habitats of each.
Then it was off to our hotel for a conversation with the former Cuban ambassador to the European Union about the history of US-Cuban relations, held on the roof top terrace of our hotel. As you might imagine this sparked more than a few questions and was very informative.
Dinner was at the best restaurant in Havana, and the food was indeed excellent, and the dining space crowded with visitors. Strangely though, the cobbled streets leading from the plaza to the restaurant were completely empty– no evening strolls in this area of the city for some reason, quite unlike our experience in other Latin America or Caribbean towns.