Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lazy Girl Goes to Cuba: Part One

Viva La Cuba!
I have just returned from a thrilling adventure in Cuba. I traveled to Cuba under a General License issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Division of Foreign Assets Control. In the United States, there are 12 sanctioned reasons to travel to Cuba. My way was a People to People educational exchange program sponsored by Museum Travel Alliance.

These travel restraints were imposed on Americans around 1960 when the United States put an embargo on exports to Cuba. In 1958, Fidel Castro had engineered an overthrow of the American-supported government of Batista, and our hated foe, Communism, was imposed on Cuba.

The history is complicated, and I do not pretend to know anything except the most sketchy outline about it. But you cannot travel to Cuba and remain ignorant of the political and social circumstances of the country.
Carol on the roof terrace of the
Hotel Parque Central in Havana,
with the Bacardi building behind.
Photo by Jeanne Markel
Chris Wedge, Carol Markel and Jeanne Markel
in a vintage car in Havana.

I traveled with a group of 32 people, plus a Cuban guide, on a tour sponsored by the Katonah Museum of Art. Our tour focused on the art and architecture of Havana, Matanzas and Varadero. My sister, Jeanne, and her husband, Chris, were also on the trip.

In 2014, President Obama and Raul Castro, re-established diplomatic ties between their two countries. The Cuban Embassy opened in Washington, and in March 2016, Secretary of State, John Kerry, and possibly, President Obama, will go to Cuba to formally open the U.S. Embassy.
Cuban soldiers raise the Cuban flag in Washington, July 2015.
Yes, Obama re-established relations in 2014, but
Jimmy Carter visited Cuba as early as 2002,
criticizing the embargo.
Left to right, President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter and Fidel Castro.

Americans in Cars Getting Rum 
From the moment you arrive in Havana, you feel as if you are
on a movie set. And one of the most exciting sights are the  vintage
cars all over the streets, driven by Cubans and used as taxis.
Photo by Jeanne Markel
This symbol of capitalism survived the revolution.
Photo by Jeanne Markel
 At a little market outside the home
of Ernest Hemingway where he lived for 20 years.
Cubans are proud of their cars
and have taken meticulous care of them.

 Everyone loves riding in these cars.
You are like a kid again.
Seen from our tour bus window.

Yes, it's an Edsel.
 For our Farewell Dinner our tour had
arranged for us to ride in a fleet of vintage taxis 
to our paladar (a Cuban restaurant).
Leaving from the Parque Central we
caused a sensation with a
symphony of horn honking.
Our drivers took a grand loop on the seaside Malecon boulevard
before arriving at our destination.

Te veo pronto!
More to Come.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Carol. What great photos. I have to admit that I'm a bit envious of your trip. I can't wait to hear more about it!!