From January 23-25, 2003, the Semester at Sea ship was docked in Havana, Cuba. We spent one full day at sea prior to arriving - during this time we attended our Cuba "bootcamp" - an entire day of Core where we learned all about Cuba. We also killed some time playing Spades (this would become a tradition), having a salsa dance party the night before we docked, and settling into our rooms.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
"Our first interport speaker spoke about the history of Cuba. The next speaker spoke on the more recent history of Cuba, including the embargo. The third speaker talked about the effects of the embargo on the Cuban people."
I feel super fortunate for having gotten the opportunity to go to Cuba. At the time, the only way in for Americans was on an educational visa, which is what we entered the country on. It was recommended that we not get the Cuban stamp in our passport because of the issues it could cause every time we reentered the US. A document was given to each of us, should we choose to get the stamp, that would explain why we had been in Cuba.
Not long after (2005 I believe) all visa access to Cuba by Americans was revoked, and students could no longer go on an educational visa. Since, travel has been opened a bit to Cuba for US citizens, provided they travel with a travel group or company that has the proper visas.
Cuba: Day 1
Thursday, January 23, 2003
"Bright and early with Rhiannon (my roommate) this morning! Up at 5:30 to watch the ship pull into Havana, Cuba. The sunrise started red and purple, growing into a rainbow of colors. A gorgeous sunrise over a smoke filled horizon."
|Sarah, Rhiannon, and I awaiting sunrise|
"We got our passports and took our first steps into Cuba."
"We headed to the welcome reception at the University of Havana. We got to choose between 3 lectures - I chose one on US-Cuban relations. After, we had some lunch, and then my friends and I went to watch a salsa band that had appeared on stage. A Cuban guy came up and asked me to dance, and I quickly learned that Cubans salsa a little differently than the Spaniards."