As my buddy and I backed out of my driveway I asked that we both double check that we had our passports.
When I looked more closely at mine my heart sunk. Expiration Date 08 April 09.
We drove to the airport to see if there was a means of getting a temporary passport for immediate travel. No luck. Not only was it "Sunday" it was "Easter Sunday". The lady at the passport services office (a private company) stated that they have a 2 day express service for $450. She said that I could go to one of the passport offices for a face to face interview but it still would require overnight processing.
My buddy agreed to go forward to the Bahamas and then to Cuba. I figured that Cuba had slipped away.
I was mad and depressed at this point. It was all my fault for not more closely inspecting my passport beforehand. Now this oversight is going to cost me dearly.
If I went to Miami, Philly or Washington DC on Monday I would not get my passport till Tuesday. I would miss my connecting flight for that day and would not get into Cuba until Wednesday. A one day trip. I was not worth it.
Then I figured that it would be best to have my passport in hand just in case my buddy got in trouble in Cuba. My options for obtaining a passport were:
- Miami - No appointments available until Tuesday
- Philly - Fly up on Monday morning for a 11am appointment, wait until Tuesday, fly back
- New Orleans - They have appointments on Monday morning but I'd have to drive 7 hours down
I thought that I would have to spend the night in New Orleans as I waited for my passport to be processed. As fate would have it - THEY DID "SAME DAY SERVICE"!!! They told me that I could come back at 2:30pm to obtain my passport. This was an important piece of the puzzle. With no passport the flight schedules to the Bahamas would be irrelevant.
As I waited for my passport I did what I always do while in the Big Easy: Purchase a copy of the "Louisiana Weekly" - the most biased newspaper in the nation!!
No time to read the paper though. I went to lunch and pulled out my laptop, trying to find a flight to the Bahamas by 12 noon on Tuesday. My option was to find a flight from some city in Florida where I would drive from N.O. or drive back to Atlanta and take the earliest flight. The problem with Florida is that I would have to go and retrieve my car. More money!
Airtran had a flight that departed Atlanta at 12noon. This would cause me to miss the 2:30pm flight to Cuba on Tuesday. I also learned that I had enough frequent flier miles on Airtran to leave from Atlanta to some city in Florida. I would need to find a flight from FL to the Bahamas that left early enough for me to make the Cuba flight.
Turns out that Delta has an 8:45am flight to Nassau and there were seats available. The lady even told me that I had enough Skymiles to pay for the ticket. This was going too good at this point. I could fly to Cuba on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.
After she booked the flight she asked me for a credit card. WTF? "Why do you need a credit card? I thought I had the miles to pay for it?"
- $150 Emergency Booking Fee
- $20 since you talked to an agent instead of booking on line
I hauled it back to Atlanta, getting in at 11pm. I left extra early to make sure that I was at the gate when the flight to the Bahamas pushed back.
I arrived in Nassau, Bahamas and had a two hour wait for my flight to Cuba.
I noticed a few things while in the Bahamas:
- The airport pay phone - They wanted $28 for a 3 minute call to Cuba with $5 per minute afterward. No thank you. I am not giving you my credit card number lady
- Wendy's: While I was standing in line I observed the accent spoken by many of the young Black male workers around the airport. It sounds like they have some Dutch influence to their English.
- Internet Cafe - The Bahamas has fast Internet connectivity to the USA, just as does Jamaica
- $60 change fee
- $42 departure tax
I boarded my Russian made turbo prop plane and headed toward Cuba.
I was only one day late.
The original plan was to spend the night in Nassau and catch the Monday afternoon plane. I caught the Tuesday afternoon plane.