Disclaimer: First and most crucial statement. Information/images I'm about to present is my own opinion and/or thoughts. I haven't double checked facts, so there may be some untruths. From my perspective, everything is fairly correct. Take it as is. Also, I'm not a writer, so be wary of long tangents/grammatical mistakes and my train of thought changing willy nilly. I'm also going to give information/perspective on things in the order I personally learned.
Any story or adventure needs an intro or back story, so let's start there. Once upon a time...
A few weeks back while having a good ol' fashioned grillfest at my brother's house, a fellow Dan came on over. While we (other folk around as well) were talking about travels, Dan mentions that he'll be going to Cuba in 3 weeks. Badly paraphrased:
Dan 1: "Oh I'm going to Cuba soon..."
Dan 2 (Me): "Oh yeah? I'm coming too" <--- sarcastic toned.
Dan 1: "Yeah, I'm going with a couple. I'm sure you could come. Do you want to?"
---------------Just became serious--------------------
Dan 2: "Ahh, yeah. For real? When and how long? The other 2 are really ok with a stranger?"
Dan 1: "Yeah, we're definitely going. For real. Come along!"
Brother: "Dan 1, you better watch out. He really does do these trips..."
Dan 2: "Yeah, sky miles. I'll absolutely really be there..."
Some time passes, I ask if Dan was serious, and found out he'd already spoke with the couple. They were utilizing AirBnB (Cuba has AirBnb, btw), and 3 of the 4 beds were going to be occupied. There's my in! I start booking the ticket through JetBlue out of Orlando. Very inexpensive, and only an hour and a half flight. More winning!
Tangent 1. I don't know spanish. At all. My grandpa spoke fluently, and apparently didn't learn English until he joined the US military around 18. My parents knew a bit, but the most I retained from them was "Una mas cerveza, por favor". I'm also a fan of latin music, and will sing along phonetically, but really have no idea what the songs are about. I'm 32 currently, and the random words we learned in elementary school also never stuck. I've been to Barcelona - but my main method of communication was doing "dumb face" (the face you make when you want to portray that you're not threatening, but also very confused by the current situation) and pointing to things. Also using the few words I know in French as a middle ground. It actually worked surprisingly well, as they knew more English than I do of Spanish/French. Oh well, back to my current situation. At this point I have 5 days to learn a passable amount of a foreign language, for a worst case scenario situation. Thanks Duolingo! (Highly useful and free app, download if you haven't)
Fast forward a few days, it's now the day before I leave for Cuba with Dan and 2 strangers. (The 2 strangers. One also a Dan, the other an Andrea. (Andrea, if you're reading this, sorry you didn't get a name in the title. It just doesn't sound right) I could start another tangent about small world coincidences, but I'll save you, dear reader... this time). The flight leaves in the morning around 8 something, so the plan is to leave at 4:45am at the latest (international travel, Orlando lines, and a 2 hour drive). That day around 10pm I finally pack up and force myself asleep around midnight. 4 hour nap, and it's time to go!
Well, I set my alarm (3:45am) the few hours before, but that's not what I awake too. Fortunately my roomates were still awake so someone shuffling around in the kitchen gets me up. I check my phone, it's 4:30!!! I'm late! My deliriously sleepy brain is convinced I missed the trip. I start texting, "Are you there?? Go without me! I'm leaving now, see you there!" and quickly scramble out the door, hop in the car, and go as fast as safely possible to Orlando (I'm terrified of speeding tickets, so my fast honestly is kind of slow).
I arrive at the airport parking lot literally 30 seconds behind my traveling crew, and all works out... so far. I'm just running on no sleep and nervous energy. No biggie.