Fw: Travel pool report #5

From: Carol Lee
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 2:54 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO; Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #5

President Obama left the embassy at 1:26pm. Your pooler could see him from the pool bus leaving from a side entrance. POTUS had changed out of his suit and into khaki pants and a white shirt. He was wearing sunglasses and carrying some sort of to-go cup. Secretary Kerry, also wearing khaki pants, a white shirt and sunglsses, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett and others left from the same entrance before POTUS.

The motorcade arrived at the baseball stadium for the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuba National Team about 15 minutes later. Along the motorcade route thousands of people lined the mostly-residential streets. They were crowded onto balconies on second and third floors of homes and packed onto the sidewalks, spilling into side streets. There were no other vehicles on the road. The crowd tapered off toward Revolution Square and picked back up again once the motorcade moved past. An American flag is flying below the Cuban flag on the stadium. People seated in the top row of the stadium had turned around and were practically spilling over the wall to see the presidential motorcade pull into the stadium parking lot.

There doesn't appear to be an empty seat in the stadium. People were on their feet when pool walked in for a spray of President Obama and President Castro entering the stadium. At 1:51pm Mr. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia Obama walked into the stadium. Your pooler couldn't see him while he was in the tunnel but could tell he had emerged because the people seated in that area erupted into cheers. Mr. Obama waved a few times the cheering crowd, which also cheered for Mr. Castro and at one point chanted "Cuba! Cuba!" Mr. Obama was smiling. The pool vantage point made it difficult to see if Messrs. Obama and Castro entered the stadium alongside each other. By the time pool could see them, Mr. Castro was walking to their seats. The Obama family and Mr. Castro are seated in the front row directly behind home plate. Mr. Castro is next to Mr. Obama, on his left. To Mr. Obama's right are, in order, Mrs. Obama, Sasha, Malia and Marian Robinson. As they sat down some Cuban music blasted from the speakers, bringing even more festive energy into the stadium.

There are a handful of rows behind the Obamas and Mr. Castro, where U.S. and Cuban officials are seated, including Susan Rice and Secretary Kerry.

There was a moment of silence for the terrorist attacks during which the Obamas and Mr. Castro stood. No specific mention of Brussels.

It was very difficult to see from where the print pool was stationed. At 2:02pm Mr. Obama walked over to Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, and their daughter Sharon, who were seated in the box of seats to the right of the one for the Obamas and Mr. Castro. Mrs. Obama then walked over and greeted Rachel Robinson with a hug. Mr. Castro also walked over to meet her. They all spent a few minutes chatting. Your pooler could see Mr. Obama then talking to Derek Jeter, who was smiling and wearing sunglasses.

Players for each team were introduced. Each one stepped onto the field with a small child. A choir dressed in all white sang the Cuban national anthem in Spanish followed by the American one in English.

Then hundreds of birds were released from a space beneath the score board, which is old-school, pre-digital style. Your pooler is no ornithologist but thinks they were doves. The crowd cheered, there were several rounds of waves.

Before the start of the game, the Tampa players walked over to where Mr. Obama was seated. The president stood up and shook each one's hand through the net that is hanging behind home plate. He was smiling, sunglasses on, and chewing gum.

Your pooler then went to this room somewhere in the stadium to connect to the internet and file this pool report. The game is playing on a small flatscreen TV in here, with announcers in Spanish. The score is Tampa 1, Cuba 0.

Your pooler is not allowed to go back into the game so will rely on poolers who stayed behind in our seats, which are next to ones for Jose Andres, to send any relevant updates.

Once your pooler gets some reliable wifi, she will send pics off all this stuff from today.

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