My visit to Cuba was a mixture of emotions. It was fun, cool, sad, confusing, complex, exciting, stimulating. I left wanting to learn more about Cuba, to better understand both sides of American and Cuban politics, to see more of Havana and its crumbling architecture, to experience its music and art and speak more with its people.
As residents of the United States, my husband and I traveled to Cuba on a people-to-people visa, the same type of visa on which Beyonce and Jay-Z traveled to Cuba the week after us. This particular visa, re-instated by President Obama, does come with specific requirements, mainly a full-time schedule of educational activities that include interactions with Cubans and very little time to be a tourist. I think we managed a much needed hour nap on a beach once during the whole week while visiting the colonial city of Trinidad.
I read with interest the comments from our Republican representatives in Florida, who oppose the people-to-people visa. They believe the visas are being used wrongly and bolster an awful regime that is repressing its people. I can’t recall what during our week there would have bolstered the Castro brothers. I think more about how we may have bolstered the Cubans we met with our questions about their government, history and culture. I know I am thankful for the opportunity to experience this beautiful Caribbean island first-hand, to see for myself how socialism and communism work or don’t, to hear the other side, to form my own opinions.
How about you? Any interest in going to Cuba?