Monday, January 29, 2018

Basics for Independent Travel

Yes, you can still go to Cuba!

1) President Trump made a hard-line speech in June in Miami, but did not change much.
2) All types of purposeful travel authorized by the Obama Administration remain legal.
3) Travel with groups or on cruises is completely unchanged.
4) Hotel restrictions largely do not impact American used facilities and may have a legal work-around.
5) Independent travel by individuals, families and friends is also largely unchanged but now falls under the rewritten license category of “Support for the Cuban People” instead of “People to People”.
6) The withdrawal of 60% of US diplomats in October 2017 was connected to mysterious medical problems that affected only them and Canadian counterparts.  It is totally unknown what happened and who is responsible, but the goal of cooling relations succeeded.  Canada did not withdraw its diplomats!
7) The State Department was required by internal rules to issue a Travel Warning only because it could not provide the normal level of citizen services.
8) There has not been a single confirmed case of similar health symptoms from the 4 million visitors to Cuba last year including 650,000 Americans. No other country has issued any kind of health advisory.  The International Tourism Fair in Madrid last week judged Cuba the “Safest Destination in the World”.
9) Withdrawal of diplomats frustrated demands by Sen. Rubio to close both countries’ embassies.

How do I go on my own?

1) Book non-stop or connecting tickets on American, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest or United to Havana, Santa Clara or Holguin and soon Santiago.
2) Select from the menu “Support for the Cuban People” as the type of travel you are undertaking
3) Use AirBnB, etc. to reserve a room or an apartment (casa particular) from a private owner
4) Eat in a private restaurant (paladar)
5) Buy handicrafts, etc. from self-employed shop keepers (cuenta propistas)
6) If you need a guide, hire her or him privately
7) As much as possible, use private taxis (They are also available between cities.)
8) Whatever you do, wherever you go, be intentional and responsible that your goal is “a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people … and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.”  (The conscientious judgement of what qualifies is yours.)
9) Apportion recreational activities like concerts, dancing and the beach as in a normal work week
10) Keep a journal or list of your “meaningful interactions” for five years.

Links for local guides and places to stay

Current US government regulations

Irish links to Cuba

Petition for the end of the travel warning and all restrictions

Most cruises leave from Florida but only offer a day or two in Havana as part of a Caribbean sailing.  A new option will only visit Cuban ports.  Cubans on board will provide music, dance, cooking and presentations on history and culture.   We will organize a reasonable cost Fam trip via Havana as soon as available

Fund for Reconciliation and Development   917-859-9027

Originally distributed at the New York Times Travel Show, 1/26-28/2018

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