About fifteen years ago, I was part of
a Youth Delegation that
traveled to Cuba. Having just finished
my undergrad in Latin American Studies,
traveling to Cuba was an exciting journey
that took me out of the text books
and into the real world of Cuba.
In early 2015 President Obama
made it more flexible for
Americans to travel to Cuba.
Although Americans are NOT
allowed travel to
Cuba for tourism purposes,
they can now travel under one of the
12 allowable rules.
I took the changes in our laws
as an opportunity to take a group of
Americans for a week long excursion to Cuba
"Baila en Cuba" (Dance in Cuba),
which included daily Cuban style
dance workshops and nightly Concerts
with the best Cuban bands.
After arriving in Cuba, simple words
could not express the excitement
and anticipation of experiencing
Cuba and the Cuban people once again.
The sites, sounds, tastes and
the joy of connecting with the Cuban people
laid out the canvas for an experience
that would never be forgotten.
On our third day of salsa classes we
performed in front of the iconic
in attempts to break
the World Guinness record for
longest group performance of a
Cuban dance known
We were befriended by many
dancers from Cuba,
Mexico and Venezuela
which added to the melting pot
of our culturally diverse dance group.
While we were waiting to perform,
it began to rain and many people
left and we didn't meet the minimum
number of dance performers to break the world record.
The friendships formed proved to all of us
that the journey
and friendships created were
more fulfilling than the possibility of achieving
the world record.
The overall experience with this recent trip
to Cuba has left myself and
my new friends with
thoughts and memories that will last a life time.
It is the Cuba I remembered and more.
I'm counting the days when I can return to
Cuba to relive the memories and create
new ones with friends new and old.
The day will come soon (July 2016)
when I can immerse myself in the beauty,
the customs, the culture,
and the excitement of Cuba
and the Cuban people,
Melissa loves to travel and has traveled to over 30 countries. Some of her favorite places include Greece, Brazil, and Cuba.