Ahem. *Sophia voice* Picture it. United States. 2013. High school students campaigning for integrated proms. Legislators threatening U.S. citizens with 10 years of imprisonment for choosing Cuba as the backdrop for their anniversary trip. The name of the movie? Real life. In the land of the free where we proudly tote our first and second amendment freedoms to do, well, just about anything, we find ourselves with government-imposed highly restrictive guidelines on how to travel to neighboring lands. Not because of concern for our safety, but because . . . *insert your own cynical response*. Sure, at least the complete ban has been lifted; however, the guidelines are so restrictive it will prevent most who desire to travel to Cuba to do so.
Enter us. As we’ve looked in recent months to add Cuba to our destination list, I realize that one of two things happened at the time the ban was lifted: one, I may have been guilty of reading only the first paragraph of the New York Times article missing all the details outlined in the next 9 paragraphs *don’t judge*; or two, I did not realize all that would be involved in meeting each requirement. I mean really, I as a human just want to travel to another land inhabited by humans and experience life as they know it. Of course it would include indulging on authentic arroz con frijoles (I can no longer order the arroz con pollo), sampling mojitos throughout the island, walking the streets of Havana, viewing a Cuban cigar being rolled *promise to not inhale* *side-eye*, be swept up by the conglomeration of the Caribbean, African and Spanish influences that comprise the Cuban culture and dance to some Afro-Cuban jazz. More importantly, my desire is to learn about its history specifically the lives of the portion of my ancestors, Africans turned to slaves, who were taken to Cuba as well as witness what life is like for their present day descendants who struggle and protest against what some have named the country’s ‘callous disregard’ for them. Isn’t that what many of us desire of our travels – the freedom to roam on our own and allow ‘the land’ and its inhabitants to guide us?
Today, I dedicate our Travel Tuesday segment to the day when we can tour Havana in our Havianas without a teacher having to direct our every step.