WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2013/2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/210435

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Page 189 of 211

JANET MENDELSOHN excursions "a different kind of vacation" and locked a half century back in time. To travel there legally, Americans no longer have to be affiliated with an academic, arts, or Writer Janet Mendelsohn captured this photo along the Malécon in Havana during her trip to Cuba government group. But, as average citizens, we are restricted to socalled "People-to-People" tours that are not classified as tourism. The trip was fascinating. On a hot day this past June, Camilo Garcia That means unlike the Canadians, Italians, and French who flock to López-Trigo, a 20-year diplomat, spoke to our diverse group of 12 the island's (reportedly) gorgeous beaches, those sand and surf Americans from all walks of life. We were intrigued, irritated, and resorts are off-limits to us. But as I discovered last June, our ability to puzzled by his frank views. He recounted "many lies and misrepresen- learn about Cuba is more rewarding because tour operators are tation by the US Department of State," as well as chapters we remem- required to weave conversations and Q&A sessions with Cubans bered from news accounts and from school, adding yet another throughout our daily schedule of cultural and educational visits. dimension to what in preceding days we had heard from Cuban artists, musicians, botanists, private business owners, educators, an athlete, and chefs about the realities of their lives under communism. Our tour operator, Gate 1 Travel Discovery Tours (www.gate1travel.com or We l l e s l e y We s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 3 / 2 0 1 4 800.682.3333), had designed an itinerary that fulfilled the US government's "People-to-People" mandate by arranging some fifteen of these exchanges in seven days. His mix of history and politics was not the only time we heard a less-than-friendly view of our country. It stimulated great conversations. No book or news coverage beforehand fully prepared us for a country that looks and feels stuck in a time warp, circa 1959, but is simulta- 188

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