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.”
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.
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.