US President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba was a good excuse for 1,300 journalists from around the world, 100 foreign correspondents on the island, and more than 400 Cuban colleagues to have a good old get-together. 

It was not the first time we were seeing each other - many of us go way back. We covered Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francisco. 

In the press centre, hugs abounded and sometimes, exchanges of presents: "I brought you some delicious Colombian coffee", "Come to ours for dinner - we've got lobsters fresh out of the sea", or "Try this matured Dutch gouda". But the social gatherings were only going to happen "after the mulatto has gone". 

The only hostilities you could detect at the press centre in the Habana Libre Hotel were between some journalists from Cuba and the US. 

'Journalists from different planets'

Half a century of feuding has also - or maybe particularly - left a trace among the journalists. What divides us are the thousands of reports, editorials and documents that discredit the adversary. For some, that was Cuban communism, for others, it was North American imperialism. 

And what was funny was that it was "them" who had the monopoly on press passes to the events during the visit - for the rest of us, there was hardly ever any space.

It was the Cuban government and the US embassy managing the invitations - and they were telling their journalists when the lists were going to be printed so they knew when to put their names down for the events.

"Every time I go to put my name down, there's a queue all the way around the block," Nitza Kakoseos, a Swedish documentary filmmaker I first met in Cuba in the 1990s, told me. 

US and Cuban journalists seemed to be from different planets - different even from the rest of the pack.

For those from the north, the most important issue is human rights. Even before Obama's arrival, they managed to make world news out of 50 people protesting - a protest which happens every Sunday in Havana. 

At the press conference, they asked Raul Castro about political prisoners but not one interrogated their own president about the prisoners the US is holding at Guantanamo Bay. I mentioned this to a US colleague and his response was "we hoped that that was something our Cuban colleagues would point out".

But they didn't - they are so complacent that they couldn't even confront the "leader of the empire". In their defence, I should say that during the whole event, there were members of the Ideological Department walking around the press centre - this is the apparatus that controls what it thinks each Cuban outlet should publish and even, I imagine, the questions that were to be put to Obama.

'Waiting for the next big story' 

Despite everything though, journalists from the US and Cuba did have some things in common.

Those from the US asked some of us veterans about the repercussions we thought Obama's words would have on the Cuban people.

I can't help but think that they were still hoping for a miracle like the one they hoped for during the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1998, when they didn't even know that most Cubans aren't Catholics; they have an Afro-Cuban faith known as Santeria. 

Their Cuban counterparts, after treating Obama with kid gloves, then rushed out to try to counteract the empathy the US president had sparked among normal people. 

Even in the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, they published a very aggressive article entitled Obama at the Great Theatre of Havana - or the great theatrics of Obama in Havana. 

The fear that the US president's words could inspire Cuban journalists seems as disproportionate as the hopes being projected by their US colleagues.

In the meantime, the rest of us journalists from elsewhere tried to make time to meet, eat cheese, the fresh lobster (the cheapest in the world) - but the Rolling Stones put a spanner in the works and we had to hit the road again. We were not able to get together this time round - we might just have wait for the next big story.  

Fernando Ravsberg has been based in Havana for more than 20 years. He used to author BBC's long-running 'Letters from Cuba'. He runs www.cartasdesdecuba.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera