Friends Made Through Ebay

[ 24 July 2016 - Sunday ] 

A fabulous coincidence occurred a couple months ago...

Whaaaa?  You're from Ann Arbor too?

In trying to get a start, any start, on my research I decided to look on Ebay for “images of Havana” hoping maybe I’d find some interesting historical posters or the like.  I stumbled upon these amazing old slide photographs of some of Fidel’s soldiers and immediately wanted to buy them as they seemed really cool and far better than most the other things I was finding.  Looking for a place to request to “Buy it Now” instead of the “Place Bid” I poked around the listing information and then the seller information page when I suddenly saw that the seller was located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Of all the places what were the chances?!  I emailed the seller asking if they would consider listing the photos as a “Buy it Now” option and “Oh by the way, since you live in Ann Arbor and I live in Ann Arbor would you mind if I asked you a few questions about Cuba….?”  A few weeks later I was meeting him, Tom, and his wife, Carmen, and his sweet daughter at Cafe Feliz to talk “Cuba.”  Turns out Tom has been traveling to Cuba for 17 years and it’s were he met his now wife Carmen.  They continue to travel to Cuba with their daughter each year to visit with Carmen’s family.  They are both a wealth of knowledge on both the logistics of traveling to and around Cuba as well know a lot about the architectural, political, and cultural histories of the country.  Tom’s been collecting photos (like the ones he was selling on Ebay) for years and has actually donated a large number of them to the University of Miami where the archives are available to view online!

** I must interrupt myself to announce that Idris Elba is sitting with his British posse not 20 feet from me on the patio of the Hotel Nacional! Although, I actually had no idea who that was until Carmen and Tom said that they saw him in the lobby earlier and then showed me a picture of him from Google.**

If that first coincidence wasn’t enough there was another one coming.  Tom, Carmen, and their daughter were leaving for Cuba a few days after our meeting in downtown Ann Arbor but our trips to Havana overlapped by three days.  They told me that they were staying at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba for the last few days of their trip and asked if I wanted to meet up.  Of course I said yes!

We made plans to meet the evening of the 23rd on the patio of the Hotel Nacional and then go for dinner where they would introduce me to a few friends they had in the city, but the evening of the 23rd came and I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I sat at the bar and then on the patio for over three hours (don't feel too bad for me, I was reading and drinking a beer) but eventually hunger got the better of me and I decided to venture off hotel grounds to get dinner.  Maybe when I got back they'd be there, but I still couldn’t find them.  I went to my room, showered, and started to feel super lonely and pitifully wondering what the heck I was going to do alone for three weeks in Cuba?!  Deciding the only way to combat loneliness was to be around people I went downstairs to the patio, had half a beer, finished my book, saw that the clock read 9:30 and decided it was time for bed, haha.  To be fair I was awake at 3:30 to catch my flight that morning. The next morning, just as I was about to accept the fact that Tom, Carmen, and I weren't going to find each other who did I see at breakfast?!  My missing Ann Arborites!  And thank Jésus that I did find them because I seriously wouldn’t have been able to go on the Great Casa Particular Quest without them!  I mean, I know I would have figured something out on my own but probably not without a panic attack and major desperation.

Tomorrow: The Great Casa Particular Quest