Update on Legal Travel to Cuba

On the Road Again and Cuba Bound

It’s been a long 15 months in the U.S., with little opportunity to travel, but that’s about to change. By the time you read this, I will be in Cuba, a place I have long dreamed of visiting. Having lived in both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, I am no stranger to this part of the world, but Cuba has a mystique like no other Caribbean island. Antique muscle cars, polished to a deep sheen, rumble down boulevards like deep-throated lions sizing up prey. Sensuous salsa tunes float into the street from dim and smoky music clubs. Crumbling buildings, painted in shades of peeling pastel, are a photographer’s paradise.

Map showing my travel to Cuba with Discover Corps, showing the destinations we will visit

Map showing my travel to Cuba with Discover Corps

You may be wondering if legal travel to Cuba is available for all U.S. citizens. The answer is yes and no. On January 16, 2015, regulations governing travel to Cuba were amended by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Twelve categories of travel that previously required a specific license are now allowed by OFAC. These include categories such as family visits for persons of Cuban descent; journalistic activity; professional research and meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic, and other competitions and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; and humanitarian projects. Travel for general tourism, however, is still not allowed.

I will be traveling with Discover Corps, an organization approved for group travel to Cuba. Discover Corps crafts itineraries that immerse guests into the daily lives of local people. Of course, we’ll wander the colorful streets and stroll along the Malecon seaside walkway in Havana, visit Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in the fishing village of Cojima, and tour the museum at the Bay of Pigs. But we’ll also eat in locally owned paladars, visit a museum dedicated to making Cuban rum, learn basic Cuban dance steps, and meet a recognized Cuban dance troupe. We’ll also visit a community-based art project and enjoy a people-to-people exchange with members of the Cienfuegos Choir. Discover Corp’s goal is to create mutual understanding and peace, and they do so by creating as many opportunities as possible for its guests to interact with Cubans face-to-face.

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming trip. For me, it will be the opportunity of a lifetime, especially since I will be seeing Cuba before the tourism doors are thrown wide open to Americans, which will irrevocably change it. Stay tuned for many featured photos and stories about the experiences I have and the people I meet over the next 10 days.

Disclosure: I will be a guest of Discover Corps during my stay in Cuba. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Map photo courtesy of Tuchman Beaches Guide

8 Comments on “On the Road Again and Cuba Bound

  1. I followed along. 🙂

    It’s been a tough year for you. Really glad to hear you’re returning to what you love best. What’s next?

    • Hi Mike: Yes, it was a tough year, but very, very rewarding. I will be eternally grateful that this vagabond lifestyle I chose allowed me to care for my father in his final year. And now, I am crazy excited to go back on the road. Just returned from Cuba and in two weeks I will be traveling full time once again. Amsterdam first, then a Grand European tour with Viking River cruises, then I’ll wander around parts of eastern Europe I haven’t yet visited (Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania), before spending a month in the fall in Greece. Late fall will take me to Nepal for a couple of month, while winter will see me in Thailand and Myanmar. After that, who knows? And it will probably change a dozen times as I travel. It always does. Hope you are well and loving life!! xoxo

  2. Dear Barbara,
    I’m glad you are doing what you love again. It sounds as though things are going well. Even though Kevin wrote you concerning your Dad I find I wanted to let you know how sorry I am. Yesterday,after we returned from CA,I was walking in the neighborhood,and passed your Dad’s house. I realized just how much I would miss him sitting out under the Oak tree greeting all the passers by. He was a special friend and fun man. I really enjoyed our spontaneous conversations over the last few years we have lived here. I truly think of him as one of our really good friends. Since my family and Dad are very similar to yours, I can understand just a little how you and your sisters are feeling. I am really sad that we could not attend the memorial services for him and for you and your family.

    Enjoy your travels with that sense of renewal.

    Sincerely,
    Diane Willis

    • It is I who should be thanking you, Diane. You and Kevin were wonderful friends to Dad and I will always remember your many kindnesses. I really hope I get to see you again before I hit the road again permanently in May 19th. Xoxoxo

  3. Have such a fantastic time! Cuba is #1 on my list since part of my family comes from the island and there’s a bridge named for my Great Grandfather I’d love to visit. Sadly, my current employment situation makes traveling there much more complex – so it will have to wait for a full relaxing of restrictions or a future employment situation!

    • Hi Adina: I’m just back from Cuba and what an experience it was! I do hope you get to visit sooner rather than later, as it is a given that the culture will change once millions of Americans begin flooding into this tiny island.

  4. We are here in Duck, NC, in the house you introduced us to back in 2001. We have just returned from watching the sky over the Atlantic morph from blue to pink…and following the dolphins making their way up the coast.
    You are such a part of our lives-past and present- and we can’t be happier for your new adventure! (John wants you to know how jealous he is!!) Do you still have a personal email or should we continue to contact you this way? (ie., did you receive our Xmas poem?)
    Love you much!!
    V and J

    • Hi J and V. You can still reach me at [email protected], or [email protected]. Yes! I got your Christmas poem, but so much stuff fell through the cracks, as I was caring for Dad during his last few months. Cuba is scintillating – check out DiscoverCorps.com if you’re interested. In the meantime, enjoy those great OBX sunsets. Love you guys too!!!!! Xoxo

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