Glimpses of Cuba Two Generations Apart, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Ed and I at a bus stop for tourists east of Havana.
Ed and I at a bus stop for tourists east of Havana.
A new bridge. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon.
A new bridge at the tourist stop. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon. The ocean to the east…

It has been awhile since I have blogged; a lot has happened. I think I’ll start with Cuba.

One of the stories my father relays to me with great relish is his 1954 Stuart High School senior trip to Havana, Cuba. Can you imagine that? A senior trip to Cuba? My dad grew up on Riverside Drive in Stuart, Florida, in the 1950s, on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

With a broad smile and sparkling eyes, he tells of magnificent buildings, music, art, restaurants, and night clubs around Port of Havana, and having “lots of fun.” “In fact one of the students had so much fun, he was sent back to Stuart!” My dad laughs out loud, with thoughts of the “good old days.”

My father’s Stuart High School class traveled with chaperones before Fidel Castro’s 1958 rise to power over Batista and later the embargo and tumultuous history that the world has watched unfold for over a half century.

My husband, Ed and I, traveled for a very different reason during a very different time. Two weeks ago we left on a journey with the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida and we were classified by the government as”pilgrims.”

Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row far right.
Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row one from far right.

Our journey was led by Bishop Leo Frade of Miami and his wife.

The trip took about fifty people, including other priests, to Havana, Cardenas, Lemonar, Bolondron, Metanzas and back again to Havana. We visited churches that were rebuilding since the communist government allowed them in the 1990s to once again worship. They have few resources but great spirit.

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Group in Old Havana square.
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It was a great education for me. If I had to describe the experience in one sentence I would say: “Government is corrupt, not its people.”

To see the smiles and hear the appreciation of those we met along the way, to think about all they have endured, to realize more than ever before how much I take for granted.

I have visited  poor countries before. I lived and taught in Berlin, Germany in 1990 just after the Berlin Wall came down and East Germany was emerging from the brace of communism…I think what was so different for me about Cuba, is that it is so close to home and I know some people who lost everything.  Also, the flight took less than an hour. Cuba’s climate is much like Florida; it is geologically considered part of North America.

Although most of the buildings were falling apart, it is a beautiful, beautiful country…So here are some photos. May the next generation of Thurlows see something better, but may the smiles and the warm spirits of the Cuban people stay the same.

With our guide.
With our guide.
Church in Limonar
…Limonar’s church.
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…..There was no roof.
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….The priests.
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…School kids in uniform. Cuba is highly literate.
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…Old American cars still running…
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Sugarcane has a long history in Cuba that is very ties to the U.S.
Sugarcane has a long history in Cuba and  is very tied to South Florida in the U.S.
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Havana
Havana.
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…Fixing up old buildings
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Last night dad and I take out his souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
Last night my Dad and I took out the souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
School bus from 1954 senior trip.
Photograph my dad saved of the school bus taken from Stuart to Miami in 1954.

Cuba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

8 thoughts on “Glimpses of Cuba Two Generations Apart, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Such an informative synopsis of your Cuban mission trip! Clever comparison of your two generations, Jackie. Is St Mary’s assisting in the rebuilding of the churches in Cuba?

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  2. For a year I rode back and forth to work with a guy who was a prisioner in Fiedel Castros prison. I believe he said his name was Lorenzo—He said it was a biblical name that ment Lazeras in Spanish. I allways just called him LC. His father sent him into a barracks to put a bomb and when he was caught his father fessed up and they shot him and threw LC into prison. He said he was 10 years old. He said he believed he survived because being small he did not require much food. It was if he could never say enough how much he loved America. I guess America saved his life. I think everyone should read about the Ukraine famine and realize it takes 3 things to survive—FOOD—WATER—SHELTER—and you never let any government or person get control of any one of these things or they will show you whos the boss

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  3. Just like our state government showed us who was the boss by dumping sewage into the lagoon after everone voted NO they could not use gill nets to catch ALL the fish

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