Bridge Differences with Legal Travel to Cuba

Man with Cigar in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 2003opens IMAGE file

Man with Cigar in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 2003

Cuba was my forbidden fruit and in 2003 before President W. Bush pulled the cultural licenses enabling Americans to visit with licensed operators, I had to find a way to legally visit. opens in a new windowInsight Cuba was the solution and I traveled with them for an extended weekend in Havana on a people-to-people program.

Travel Bridges Differences

As travelers, we know a large part of the travel experience is interacting with locals and other travelers to broaden our knowledge and understanding. Trips to Cuba allowed Americans to interact with Cubans, exchange ideas and learn more about each others cultures. When we connect with other people we realize how similar we are than different. This is all part of nurturing pockets of peace to bridging differences rather than dividing cultures.

Why is this important? Because when we get to know someone and better understand them there’s less hate. Would wars erupt if we better understood each other?

Having participated in Insight Cuba’s people-to-people program, I found it extremely beneficial in understanding the oppression Cubans live under but also how they have adapted and survived. How else could they keep cars from the ’50s and ’60s running without access to automotive parts? I found some Cubans to be happy and content while feeling the frustration and skepticism from others.

I was disappointed cultural licenses to Cuba were pulled the end of 2003 because it meant fewer Americans could legally visit which meant fewer Americans could learn firsthand what it’s like for Cuban citizens. It also meant fewer Cubans were meeting fewer Americans and learning about our ideology.

And keep in mind, citizens of other countries can legally visit Cuba. The Caribbean country welcomes more than a opens in a new windowmillion visitors annually with Canadians and Western Europeans topping the list.

Good News! Americans Can Once Again Legally Travel to Cuba on People-to-People Trips

Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. travel policy to Cuba relaxed a bit earlier this year. opens in a new windowAmericans can now legally travel to Cuba with licensed operators on people-to-people programs with the first trips departing in August. This means the cultural gap between America and Cuba can be bridged with a better understanding of each others ideas.

What can you expect? I imagine it will be similar to what I experienced eight years ago. Check out my post, opens in a new window“What It’s Like Visiting Cuba on a People-to-People Program” to read my first-hand observations about the program.

Several companies have requested licensing and have received permission from the U.S. government to run people-to-people trips to Cuba. As previously mentioned, I traveled with Insight Cuba ( opens in a new windowwww.insightcuba.com) and they’ll be running trips in August and accepting reservations now. An organization I traveled to Afghanistan with also offers trips to Cuba. They’re called Global Exchange and they offer a host of Reality Tours to Cuba ( opens in a new windowwww.globalexchange.org). They are also accepting reservations now.

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Author: Solo Travel Girl Admin

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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