So there I was, minding my own business in early December, when my buddy Monty emailed and said, “I’m going to Havana for Christmas. Come with me?” Monty’s half Cuban and still has family there, cousins who supported the Revolution and stayed. He goes back and forth a lot, sometimes leading architectural tours; he’s an expert in Cuban modernism. A year and a half ago, with the help of his cousins, he bought an apartment in the El Vedado neighborhood of Havana.
I had three immediate reactions: I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, and I can’t just go to Havana. I mean, we have a 60-year embargo against Cuba. The list of acceptable categories of people who can travel there is pretty tight. I’d need to have set this up long in advance…
Monty stopped me. Nope, he said. Any writer can go. Journalists with credentials have always been allowed, but also, novelists and non-fiction writers doing research.
Well, so much for the other two roadblocks. I checked the “professional research” category on the visa application and told the calendar and the bank account I’d talk to them when I got back. Christmas Day we left at 5:00 am to get to the airport, carrying door hardware, light fixtures, blankets, and pillows, to help furnish the place, which has been undergoing renovation. We flew direct NYC-Havana, and by 3:00 pm we, and Monty’s young nephew Sam, were sitting on the balcony sipping Cuban coffee.
I’ll be reporting more over the next couple of days. Meanwhile, pix or it didn’t happen. Well, it did.
View from Monty’s balcony
Waves splashing on the Malecón