On this second day of the cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, we were scheduled to have Cuba on the port side of the ship for most of the afternoon. I went a bit geeky.
At 11am, I went to the front desk to ask them what time we would be closest to Havana. The best they could do was to tell me what time we would see the island.
As the day progressed, I kept checking and eventually, there it was, veiled behind the low clouds, Cuba. That island where in the 1950s TV’s Ricky Ricardo took Lucy and in movies, Sky Masterson took Miss Sarah Brown.
It is that island the US State Department says we Americans cannot go without special permission. It is that island of Fidel, Raul and Guantanimo Bay.
I made a special point to get The Child and explain to her the significance of this island. The stories of the Bay of Pigs and the nuclear arms crisis of John Kennedy were met with maximum “I don’t care” face that a teenager is capable. I dismissed The Child and let her go back to having fun.
I wanted a momento, something to prove that I was in this place. So like that geeky, techo, runner nerd that I am, I rushed down to my cabin and got my Garmin (yes, I brought my Garmin on a cruise, what of it?). I let the satellites mark the position of The Disney Fantasy and I let that be my souvenir of my time near Cuba.
After I got my bearings, I pulled up a deck chair, ordered a beverage, put my Ibrahim Ferer music on my iPod and watched the island pass by. I saw Ibrahim and some of his Buena Vista Social club friends at UCLA a decade plus ago. It was as a fantastic night of music and merriment.
As the island drifted by, so did my mind drift to the politics of the US and Cuba. Our 50 year old-economic sanctions haven’t done the Castros in yet. Granted, Castro has done horrible things and the imposed sanctions were a reasonable response, but maybe it’s time to do some type of fence-mending, some type of normalization of relations?
But was it arrogant of us to ask Mr. Gorbachev to tear his wall down before we tore down ours with Cuba? Would any American politician risk raising the ire of the Cuban-Americans population by reaching out to Cuba? Probably someone who doesn’t meed to carry Florida. Do we need another Richard Nixon? Will there be a person with such clout in our lifetime?
“Remember the Maine!”
I vividly remember that paper that I did for Mrs. Rizzo on the Spanish-American War back in High School. I see the New York Times microfiche at the UNLV library where I did most of my research. I remember taking notes and inserting dimes into the microfiche viewer to get copies of the ancient paper.I think about the 252 men killed aboard the USS Maine. That ship was the first US Warship commissioned. It took 9 years to build, and was in service for 3 years before being struck by a mine in the harbor of Havana. I was really proud of that paper. I think about Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. I imagine them taking the hills I see in the distance.
Ibrahim begins to sing Silencio on my iPod and I stop thinking so hard. The song is quiet and as peaceful as I wish to be on this vacation.