Mad As Hell About Cuba
I came back from Cuba mad. Not about my time spent in Cuba, but the weeks leading up to it and the 30 minutes in the airport after we landed back at LAX. You’ll be surprised at why I’m mad…but I am.
When I came through immigration at LAX after being in Cuba, no one interrogated me like I expected. I got only 2 questions. Where are you traveling from? and Do you have anything to declare? That’s it.
Even when I said I was returning from Cuba, the immigration guy didn’t even bat an eye. No sideways glance, or a double check of my passport. He didn’t ask to see my receipts I so carefully collected, or the itinerary we are supposed to show that proved we spent 6 hours a day ‘Supporting The Cuban People’. It didn’t phase him.
But it made me mad as hell.
There is so much fear around traveling to Cuba. Right? If you’re reading this now, I bet you probably think that you’re discouraged from traveling there. That there are restrictions, or difficulty getting a visa, or even worse, that Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba anymore after Trump’s big announcement in August 2017.
Right before we left my mom called me to tell me she was worried because she thought we weren’t allowed to go. And to be honest, until I went, I was a little nervous about making it into the country…or back out. It was all a bit of mystery.
There’s not much information available…and ‘they’ like to keep it that way. I’m not 100% sure who ‘they’ are, the US Government, the President, the Republicans or the Democrats, or maybe even the Russians (they are always to blame), but somehow most people have the impression that we’re not supposed to go.
It makes me sad.
It makes the Cuban people sad too as they wait for the planes of tourists to arrive. Cuba had a boom for a short period when Obama lifted some of the restrictions making it easier to travel to Cuba, and you can see how the people responded and created small businesses everywhere. Restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, tours and so much more started popping up at a greater rate…but from what we could see, and based on feedback from the locals, business is way down since August 2017. Restaurants go empty. (Alaska Airlines is no longer flying direct flights from LA as of January 22, 2018)
Americans want to go to Cuba. Cubans want Americans to visit. But there’s misinformation and fear preventing both, and that makes me mad. I want to help people experience Cuba. It’s good for Cuba and it’s even better for Americans. We need to travel more, and there are only a few opportunities to travel to developing countries like Cuba before Starbucks and McDonald’s invades.
I’m not bashing Starbucks.
It’s true I’m not a regular customer but I admire the company for so many reasons. And, there were a few times I would have killed for a Starbucks in Cuba…but, going to a country where you can’t have everything you want at a moment’s notice really challenges our commercialism, selfishness and causes us to slow down and appreciate the things that take time to make, like basic meals and grande coffees without whipped cream. (That’s a whole other blog post.)
I can’t wait to share more of our adventures in Cuba. I truly want to ‘Support The Cuban People’ like my visa required me to do. I love my fellow American travelers and I want to do anything I can to make it easier and more accessible for you to visit Cuba. Stay tuned, I’ll share with you everything I know…so you can go.