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Barbara’s Adventure in Cuba

Dear Manny and Cary,

I am writing to thank you and all your staff for the beautiful experience of my trip to Cuba. I loved it all.

I appreciate your efforts to respond to my stated interests in Cuba’s history, architecture, art, and music - wonderful, wonderful — but I find that my opportunities to speak with Cuban people are what feature largest in my pleasant memories. It is not an easy thing to talk about one’s daily life to a stranger one has only just met. I hope that my gratitude to my hosts for their openness and generosity in sharing with me can somehow be conveyed to them.

Of course, all these people have moved on to other travelers and other concerns, but if it is possible to pass information on, I enclose the following messages to them:

@ to Cary in California, thank you for answering all my questions and having patience with my negligible phone/computer skills, especially with the Cuban health form.

@ to my guide at the Museum of Fine Arts (who gave me his card, which I unfortunately lost in the wash - I believe his first name was Oriellio), thank you for sharing your knowledge with me!

@ to Lorena, what a nifty kitchen/rooftop terrace you have! Thank you for a delicious and — as Nathaly tells me — authentic Cuban lunch experience. I hope that your social media commentators in Cuba will respond more positively to your cooking posts in future :-).

@ to Annabelle, thank you for the bountiful breakfast with spectacular outdoor views. I hope that the second attempt to construct a new house goes better than the first :-).

@ to the shy tobacco farmer, thank you for the three Cuban souvenirs for my friend John. John is excitably resuscitating them (after their journey) in little bags with cups of water and apple slices.

@ to the long-suffering horse wrangler at the tobacco farm, thank you for accommodating my inexperience (but enthusiasm!) in horseback riding, for showing me breathtaking views of the mountains, and for your small-talk.

@ to Camillo, thank you for persevering in what I am afraid was a very one- sided dialog (I am a shy person). I wish you well, and, if it is not too presumptuous to say, I hope that you have found a lasting love with your husband the medical doctor, and that you have come agreeably to rest in your homeland, after all your travels.

Most of all, I would like to thank Nathaly my guide and Alejandro my driver, and to bring them to your especial attention. I found them to be a fount of information about Cuban life — helpful, resourceful, and good - humored. They anticipated my every need.

I asked Nathaly many questions, and she answered them all - from the progress of a ballerina thru the ranks of the national ballet to the organization (from staircase to cabinet) of political groups to the restaurant-dining habits (in better times) of the typical Cuban family. (Alejandro contributed information about sports.)

As I said, I am a shy person, and Nathaly’s outgoing personality and ability to draw others out in conversation were invaluable assets to me.

I very much appreciated having a woman for a guide — Nathaly was able to describe the position of women in Cuba before and after the Revolution, and, between us, we discovered a mutual loathing for ironing :-).

Nathaly coped admirably with the unexpected — my injuring my toes by tripping at the beach. When I began to fear my injury went beyond bruising to possible broken bones, she took me to the international clinic the very next day, and re-arranged my activities for that day so as not to aggravate the injury. (Both Nathaly and Alejandro had to rise very early to get me seen by the doctor.)

My most precious memory of Cuba is Nathaly’s and Alejandro’s response to my questions about salsa on the road back from Vinales. Alejandro tuned the car radio to a station broadcasting traditional Cuban music, Nathaly explained the difference between Puerto Rican and Cuban salsa, and both sang along — with evident gusto and enjoyment — to the songs on the radio. (Nathaly also played some more current Cuban music from her personal playlist.)

No one can predict the future, but if I am able to return to Cuba again, I would request Nathaly as my guide and Alejandro as my driver, for a trip to explore Cuban music further.

In any case, I was more than satisfied with my experience, and I intend to mention your agency to everyone I meet. My thanks again.


Barbara Harrison | 415-789-9398


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