In December of 2008, I flew to Cuba for the first time, not knowing what to expect. At that time it was harder than it is now to get an entry visa, so I applied and was accepted to give a talk at a Cuban teachers’ conference. I paid my own way, of course.
The reason I wanted to go to Cuba so much was that I’d been writing to a Cuban pen-pal for a couple of years and wanted to meet him. Julian was an English teacher like myself, so we always had something to talk about. We spent every day of the conference week visiting places in and around Havana. During my second week there, I took bus tours to provinces east and west of Havana.
Cuba was a revelation: not only the cars, but many other things as well were left-overs from the fifties and sixties. People seemed to be living on a shoestring, yet they were also lively, well educated and healthy. What was going on here?
I had to come back and see more.