My last post was from the beach at Varadero. The weather was wonderful—as it was on almost all of our trip. We had a terrific time at the beach, then headed back to Havana on Sunday afternoon. We checked into the Central Park Hotel. Several of us took off to meet with friends or Cubans that we met during our first few days in Havana. We had plans to meet up for our Farewell Dinner at the Café del Oriente. http://www.habaguanex.ohc.cu/restaurantes/restaurante-cafe-del-oriente/
I realize the name sounds like a Chinese fast-food place, but it was actually quite nice. Many of our past farewell dinners have been held here, located on the beautiful Plaza de San Francisco. This restaurant is often used as the last meal for various groups visiting Cuba. We joined the others upstairs who had arrived earlier. At the next table our guide noticed an energized group, headed by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis. He and his entourage had just arrived in Cuba, and this was their first meal. He graciously posed for photos with our guide and several members of our group. (We later found out that he was in Cuba to discuss an emerging crisis of Cuban migrants stranded in his country. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-costa-rica-idUSKBN0TW0UZ20151214. The migrants want to go to the US, where they can claim to be political refuges. Cuba wants them returned, and wants the US to change its policy of accepting all Cubans who arrive at the border—thousands of Cubans have died trying to get to the U.S.. I think it is fascinating that a foreign country such as Cuba has a much better (and obvious) solution to this problem than our own Congress.)
After dinner, some of us ended up at a combination night club and art gallery. The next morning we rode our bus to the airport, said our “good-byes,” and flew off through the time warp back to Miami. As usual, no customs agents asked to see our licenses, and none of our group had their bags inspected. This was one of my best expeditions yet, with few glitches. My last 2 tours have been especially therapeutic, so in addition to April 16-25, I’ve decided to add one for the summer—June 11-20th.
It has been very interesting traveling to Cuba several times each year. In spite of some obviously-predjudiced articles claiming nothing has changed, it is quite apparent that rapid change is definitely happening, and the pace of this change is accelerating. I think we will eventually see that 95% of it will be for the better. Perhaps most important—this change is becoming widely understood, accepted, and supported in Miami.