Follow along for the Busboys and Poets Travel Tribe’s Cultural Exchange trip to Cuba (July 6-13, 2022)

By Andy Shallal (@andyshallal CEO/Founder, Busboys and Poets)

We hit the tarmac at exactly 9:59. I am hopeful.

Nonetheless, my hopefulness is tested. The plane circles and circles the runway. Taunting me. Finally finding a resting spot at gate D28. The seat belt light goes off and everyone in unison pops up from their seats. There are lots of connecting flights to catch. There are kids and families headed to exotic islands. There are those who need assistance. There are those who lack any sense of urgency and should be vaporized. And then there is me. I am anxious. Sweaty. And my bladder is about to burst. I also have the superhuman task of having to leave Terminal D. Re-enter at Terminal F. And make it to my gate in under 30 minutes. To do that I have to go back through security. Shoes. Computers. Empty pockets. The family in front of me with 3 children and lots of carry on.

The man wearing shoes with too many laces. And pass 14 gates to get to my flight. As it happens, Murphy’s Law is on full display. And the human race is disappointing me. I am now dripping with sweat. It is 10:20 am. And I’ve just barely made it past security. I am sprinting toward my gate. Around the corner and past the Starbucks. Past the news stands. Past several bathrooms. Past slow-moving human herds. And then in the distance, I spot the gate number.

I pick up the pace. A tall agent is holding the rope. Anticipating my arrival. Looking annoyed. I flash my boarding pass. Smile. And hop inside the plane. The door immediately closes behind me. And I can’t believe I made it.

CharterPlane byJamesAlbright
Andy makes the charter! Photo by James Albright

With one minute to spare. It is 10:29. I take my seat in the very back of the plane. There are several empty rows and I have a three-seater all to myself. I wipe the sweat off my face. Take a deep breath. Sit back. And relax. Cuba is a mere 50 minutes away. Next stop Jose Marti International Airport

James Albright updates on his experience on the Swift Air charter flight to Havana.
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Calling All Southeast DC Artists!

We’re amping up to open the doors of Busboys and Poets Anacostia and are seeking southeast DC resident artists for a mural or mural commission! Sound like something you’re interested in? Submit an email of interest along with five to seven sample images of your work to by January 25, 2019. Artists will be … Continued

10. A visual and sensory feast.

Art percolates throughout Cuba. It shows up on the streets. In alleys. On the veranda at the Nacional. Where live music is on nightly display. Until the wee hours of the morning. It is present in the poorest parts of town. In restaurants. Where the sound of guitars and maracas fills the air. And in … Continued