Day 10 - Sept. 27

Posted October 20, 2015 12:31 p.m. EDT

The agriculture delegation hosted by the North Carolina Farm Bureau arrived in the afternoon. They were tired. A storm came just as they were scheduled to land and forced them to circle another part of the island for hours. Any sort of excitement over Cuba seemed to be overshadowed by mere relief for landing.

On top of that, the airport in Cuba is unique and can be overwhelming for tourists. When travelers arrive, they are met at the door by the heat and humidity of the island and eager Cubans waiting to be reunited with visiting family members. The crowds are huge. The hugs are tight. The tears seem endless.

A few members of the delegation trickled out into the mass crowd before the rest of the group came out together. One of them approached me.

"Hi Leyla. I'm David. I'm with the delegation."

"Oh hi," I said.

This is when I realized I had gotten used to being in Cuba. Without thinking, I hugged and kissed him on the cheek, as is customary in the Latino culture. It certainly wasn’t the way I should have introduced myself in a professional setting to a member of the North Carolina agriculture delegation. I thought, Oh no, what did I just do? I smiled and thanked him for making me aware of their arrival. But I was mortified. As I met the rest of the delegation, I had to remind myself, go back to handshakes.