Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why can't I go to Cuba?

I've been thinking quite a bit about a trip to Cuba. There really isn't a legal way for me to go there. Technically, I can travel there, I just can't spend any money. Hmmm, I don't think that's possible!

Under Clinton there were 'educational' opportunities to visit Cuba and you could go there as a part of a group being educated on bird watching, biking, ecosystems, writing, painting, you name it. All that ended with G.W. Bush. What will President Obama do?

Since 1963, the United States government has prohibited Americans from spending money in Cuba (unless you are a student, journalist, Cuban-American and anyone else the government says has legal reasons to travel there). For all other tourists, unless they can figure out how to spend no money in Cuba, going there means risking a $7,500 fine even if they travel through a third country and/or pay a third party.

We allow travel to China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and many more countries that exploit women and children, conduct ethnic cleansing, censor media, reject democracy, support communism, etc. How is Cuba so much worse?

One of the bills President Obama is working on would loosen the regulations for travel to Cuba for Cuban-Americans. Under Bush, immediate family members could travel to Cuba once every three years for a total of 14 days and spend up to $50 per day. Under President Obama's bill, the definition of 'family' is expanded a bit and Cuban-could visit family in Cuba once per year for an unlimited amount of time and spend up to $170 per day.

Up next....opening up a bit more? Perhaps allowing the organizations to resume volunteering and cultural tours to Cuba with structured itineraries...allowing Americans to volunteer, teach English, or even learn about a culture....wouldn't that be nice?

In the meantime, I will patiently wait until I can legally go to Cuba and legally spend money.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

London - Here I (errr, we) come

I just booked a birthday weekend in London. We've never been there before, so this is going to be a quick whirlwind 'scouting' trip. We're already planning a longer trip during the warmer months. So far the agenda includes...

  • Take the hop on hop off tourist bus to get a lay of the land
  • Go to St. Paul's Cathedral
  • London Bridge
  • Musical or play...I'm dying to see Wicked (hint, hint)
Any recommendations for a nice birthday dinner, pub, cafes, sights, would be great!

**Update: Apparently Chuck was a little taken aback that "I" was going to London. Actually, "WE" are going to London...for "MY" birthday. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Christmas 2009 Travel Thoughts

I've been thinking about all the places I want to go for the Christmas holiday this year. There are just so many places on my List of Places I Want to Visit that it is difficult to select just one. I priced out 5 different options and because of the holidays the prices are just unbelievably expensive. I thought with this global economic crisis and a decline in worldwide tourism, I'd see some discounts, but so far no-go.

Here are the options so far:

1. Go to the US and visit family, then head down to St. John, USVI and rent a house.
2. Fly to South Africa (Jo'burg, Durban, Capetown)
3. Spend a week on the beach (Seychelles, Maldives, or Mauritius)
4. Go to Madrid, Spain, then fly to the Canary Islands for some beach time.

I was thinking about an African Safari in Kenya or Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda or Uganda, but I think we're going to hold off on that excursion.

Any recommendations or thoughts?