Here’s what you missed since I’ve been gone: we went to AC again (meaaatballs), we went on a two-hour hike (and didn’t die! Yay!), I watched a lot, and I mean a lot, of Law and Order:SVU on Netflix (Is it me, or is the show like one billion times better sans Elliot? Sorry, superfans.), and I read some awesome mysteries about, you know, cats and stuff. And so life chugs on.
But in Serious News, during my mini hiatus the good folks at the U.S. embassy in Cuba (Whoa, words I wasn’t sure I’d ever have the opportunity to type. Pause for reflection.) raised Old Glory on Friday, the first time the flag has been flown there in 54 years. Lots and lots has been happening since the U.S. and Cuba declared their intent to normalize diplomatic relations last fall and now seems as good a time as any for a li’l update.
Travel Logistics Continue to Change But Remain Generally Confusing: While more and more travel companies are signing up to do everything from flying people to Havana to ferrying them there from Key West, one still can’t travel just for the sake of tourism. If you’re looking to go check out the island just out of curiosity, you still have to sign up through a company licensed to do so. Before you do, you might want to check out this handy-dandy tip sheet from CNN that kinda of gives you the scoop to-date. Or, you know, read my post on what to expect when you’re Havana Daydreamin'.
The Cuban Flag Goes Up in Washington: On July 20—the day that diplomatic relations were officially restored between the two nations—the Cuban flag was run up the pole in Washington D.C. in front of the mansion (built in 1917 and undergoing restoration work by a team of Cuban artisans) that used to serve as its embassy, and which will soon serve as its embassy again. Very cool. Also very cool? The embassy has a bar inside called Hemingways, where folks apparently knock back mojitos and Cuba Libres with Cuban rum while puffing on their cohibas. Uh, can I get an invite?
The U.S. Flag Goes Up in Havana: Even someone severely lacking in sentimentality, such as yours truly, has to admit this is pretty cool. On hand for the flag-raising ceremony were three U.S. marines who pulled the flag down for the last time in 1961. Also on hand was a smug looking John Kerry who does a whole lot of somber nodding and meaningful eye-closing, and also checking (with one eye) to make sure the camera is on him. (Check it out in this amazing-town video here, labeled “U.S. Flag Raised Over Embassy in Cuba” around 1:30) Wait, remember when Kerry showed up at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and was all “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty!” Oh man, golden. Wait, I’m getting off track…
Anyway, there's lot and lots happening every week as the two nations try to put the past behind them and move forward. I'll be sure to keep you posted, but for now, it's back to my cat books!