My Daughter Nicole Discovers Cuba

One of the most exciting foreign policy “events” of my lifetime has been the re-opening of Cuba, a country only about 90 miles south of Miami but mostly shrouded from American interaction for close to 60 years.  As a school kid growing up in the 1970’s, I was always fascinated by WHY our country was forbidden to “interact” (i.e., trade, visit) with Cuba.  Sure, Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro was no political friend of ours, but this beautiful island country with the famous cigars and great music surely would be better off if we Americans could engage with it.  Following former President Obama’s re-opening of diplomatic ties, trade and tourism, people began booking their trips to the formerly off-limits land…one of those people was my 24 year old daughter Nicole!  Her previous experiences living in Costa Rica and Colombia no doubt helped her prepare for her 10 day visit; it also didn’t hurt that she’s fluent in Spanish. Upon her return home, she presented my wife Meg and I with a photo-book filled with amazing pictures from her time in Cuba: a visit to The Museo de Revolucion in Havana, the beautiful beaches of Trinidad, even the legendary Tobacco Farm in Vina Les where those world-famous Cuban Cigars are made (she brought me back one to smoke on a special occasion, even though I’ll probably puke doing it).  Nicole travelled the island with a film-maker friend; they met amazing people (shout out to their “host mother” Danya!) and heard countless stories of hope for more interaction from Americans and The United States in general. Now I’m not sure what’s more exciting: the prospect that I can now visit Cuba, or the pride I feel that my daughter was one of the first in a new generation to actually do it?

John Young



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