Travel Flashback: Cuba

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I went to Havana, Cuba way (way) back in 2003, over sixteen (16) years ago.  Oh, my.

At the urging of my good friend and roommate, Tina Patterson, I went along with a tour group on a ‘cultural exchange’ pass from US State Department to attend the Havana/Latin America Film Festival – that was the “loophole” as travel was otherwise prohibited for US citizens. 

I took along my buddy Patrick (Jai Gopal) and we stayed for about a week, as I recall, at the Havana Hilton, where Fidel Castro decamped when he took over the country from Batista.  It was an amazing experience.  Once-in-a-lifetime.

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We spent about a week in Havana and another couple days in Pinar Del Rio.  It was one of those life changing trips for me, unlike any other I had previously experienced. 

106_0656Traveling to a socialist country, where there is no corporate advertising filling up the visual landscape was a drastic change to what I was visually adjusted to in American life.  Advertising here is all around you all day long.  It’s impossible to escape.

It’s in travel moments like this where I realized where we all live is a matter of latitude and longitude — there are thousands of ways and cultures where people live different than Americans do.

I’m also a huge Ernest Hemingway fan.  So getting to visit his famous landmarks (bars and hotels) and his house, Finca Veija and see his boat The Pilar, was amazing.  I never thought I would do such things.

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In recent years, Fidel Castro has since passed.  President Obama loosened some travel restrictions in 2014 (although our current President Donald Dump rolled them back).  The Rolling Stones played a gig there, too.   Time passed.  Not much stays the same.  But same things do in Cuba.

If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Cuba, I highly recommend it. 

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Havana, Cuba
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