Memories of Cuba

Cuba Obama

Photo: National Public Radio 

I am so excited to read stories about President Obama’s visit to Cuba. Ever since I visited Cuba with the California Agricultural Leadership Program in the late 1990s, I have hoped that someone would find the political courage to normalize relations with Cuba.

Our group had permission from the US Treasury to visit and it was part of a three week educational trip that included Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti. We first landed in Santiago de Cuba and then spent most of our visit in Havana with a one day field trip to an eco-resort.

Cuban baseballI have many terrific memories of Cuba including drinking my first mojito. One of my favorite memories recurred regularly when we moved around Havana by bus. Several of my fellows learned that real quality baseballs are hard to come by (even though they are made in Haiti). In Cuba, children are still playing baseball in stickball games on streets all over Havana. So whenever we passed a group of children, Dan or Todd would ask the driver to stop, they would whistle to get the kids attention and then they would toss out a couple of brand new baseballs.

Every time something magical happened. The children would catch them, stare open mouthed and wide-eyed and then toss it to a playmate who would have a similar reaction. Then they would hoop and holler and thank us. We would all wave and grin and feel real joy.

I hope President Obama has a terrific visit and that progress is made toward improving relations between our countries. Just remember Mr. President, US Treasury limits your cigar imports to $100 US.

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