Havana, Cuba and Meeting with Fidel

I never got around to writing anything about my time in Havana. It was right at the end of the trip and we were all pretty world-weary from so much non-stop travel. We were able to visit Cuba because we were entered from Brazil and not directly rom the US and were were also an educational – not tourist – organization that was hosted by the University of Havana.

I spent one of my days touring some of the old forts and lighthouses along Havana’s coast. I was a bit surprised at how similar they were to other fortifications I had toured in the US. As I had throughout the trip, I enjoyed the history of it all – particularly the former headquarters of the revolution – but by that point, I was a little tired of seeing so much history. I was ready to be home.

One evening, we were invited to spend the evening – all 600+ of us – with Fidel Castro. For nearly 4 hours el Presidente droned on about nothing at all. When he opened it up for questions, he was asked about the state of healthcare in Cuba, the assassination plans on both sides during the Kennedy years. He went on and on about progress and partnership without really saying much of anything. The high points of the evening came right at the end when one of the more courageous asked Fidel for a hug – which he got – and another asked him to autograph his passport. To which Fidel relpied, “I’ll do it but I’m not sure if you’ll be allowed back in to your country!” You can’t say the man doesn’t have a sense of humor.

After the audience with Castro, we were invited to an all-night party on him. From what I heard it was quite a good time. I’m not the party type and I was running pretty tired so I took the motor coach back to the ship. I also felt the injustice of such a lavish event being held when the Cuban people went without so much. Just imagine how that money would’ve been better spent to make some real difference.

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