Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label Travel to Havana

Ready, Set, Go to Havana

Over almost twenty years, I visited Havana three times, accompanying my wife along with a delegation of her colleagues from the Sundance Institute. Since the 1980s, Robert Redford, founder of the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival, has reached across the ninety miles from the continental U.S. to the island nation of Cuba, extending a hand of friendship, one artist to other artists.

Much has changed since that first visit in 1999. In that year, Cuba was still suffering a kind of emotional withdrawal, a result of the Soviet Union's collapse which denied Cuba the economic and cultural support it had enjoyed since the early 1960s.

Sixteen years later in 2015, there were dramatic changes. Colonial buildings were being renovated into luxury hotels and retail spaces. Cruise ships docked in the harbor and U.S. airlines announced nonstop service from many American cities. Encouraging those efforts, the Obama administration signaled a desire to move away from the isolationist polic…

After Fidel Castro, What Next for the Relationship Between Cuba and the United States? Whatever Happens, Travel to Cuba and Have an Amazing Adventure

A year ago we visited Cuba to attend the Havana Film Festival, the first time since 1999 when the country was celebrating the Millennium. 

A lot had changed since 1999. We were able to fly directly to Havana, without a stop-over in Mexico. We asked to have our passports stamped at Cuban Immigration instead of asking them not to do that. The old city had been refurbished, with construction indicating more improvements to come. Hotels were being built. The restaurant scene was as thriving as those in Brooklyn and Downtown Los Angeles. The music was as wonderful as before, with bands playing in neighborhood bars and radios on window sills serenading people passing by. 

There was much to enjoy. But also Havana's decay was more evident than in 1999. The old city and prosperous suburbs were bustling. Walk a dozen blocks away from the tourist areas and the streets and buildings in the heart of the city were more crumbling than sixteen years before. Only the colorful street art that took ad…