Sunday, May 17, 2015

A New Adventure - Chasing Sunsets in Cuba

This is me...
This is me and my backpack ready for a new adventure...
This is me, my backpack and my bicycle ready for a new adventure…
This is a letter from the US Treasury Department providing authorization for me to travel to Cuba.

And so the adventure begins… Chasing Sunsets in Cuba

The goal is to bicycle an estimated 1200 km (750 miles) from the East coast to the West coast of Cuba following the setting sun. I plan to document the changing times and attitudes on the island nation and do some location scouting for possible film projects.

From elementary school, I remember history lessons about Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Over the years, I have heard stories of Castro, Che, Communism, baseball, music, salsa and beaches. 

In December of 2014, I was talking with a friend about travel and the discussion evolved into a discussion about Cuba. We both agreed that it would be cool to travel to Cuba and see for ourselves what the country was like in it's current state and before it changed. What were the people like? How had the country evolved socially and economically? Was it an island paradise or an island prison?

However, it is not easy for Americans to travel to Cuba because of the cold war politics, lack of diplomatic relations and an economic embargo that has been in effect since 1961.

On December 17, 2014, US President Obama and Cuban President Castro announced the beginning of the process of normalizing the relations between the US and Cuba.

What I discovered was that the process of normalizing relations could take some time… which was both good and bad for me. It was good because it meant that I might be able to travel to Cuba before the relations were normalized, before an influx of tourism and before the culture changed. It was bad because it meant that it would still be difficult to legally travel to Cuba. 

I conducted some research and found out that US citizens can travel to Cuba under two scenarios. 

First, there are organized cultural tours called people to people tours. I've never been a big fan of organized tours. I've always found independent travel more interesting and enjoyable. 

Second, US citizens are able to legally travel to Cuba if they fall under one of twelve categories with examples such as: family visits, government visits, journalism, education, humanitarian projects, professional research and a few other options.

I decided that I would apply from the Department of Treasury for permission to travel for professional research. The objective would be to familiarize myself with the country and see if I could research any interesting stories that could possibly be turned in a full length documentary. I would also be doing some location scouting.

I hope to provide ongoing reports.

Wish me luck!



1 comment:

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