As I continued to travel more often to Cuba, each time moving further east and west of Havana the reality of things start to surface. All the girls and their friends were not for real, and although very friendly are hopelessly brainwashed by their government. People from the United States are never going to live or retire there, and that special girl would rarely leave Cuba. It just did not make sense to keep making these trips to such a far away place.
The Glory Days came to an end when the Cuban Government initiated a crack down on girls making trips outside their province. Girls from the country found in Havana were soon slapped with two year prison sentences with no questions asked.
President Bush tightened the travel restriction in 2004, and all of our legal loop holes for travel disappeared. The Cuba’s countered in true third world logic, and imposed a 20 percent tax on the United States dollar. While it is possible to avoid this tax by changing your U.S. dollars into Canadian dollars or Euros before making the trip all foreign cash has to be converted into a special convertible peso. So many of the political elites have access to this special currency that it has eroded the real spending power of foreign cash in Cuba.
The towns of Jaimanitas and Santa Fe are no longer special places. The streets are empty, discos are closed, and Marina Hemmingway has been taken over by Hugo Chavez and converted into a hospital for sick people from his country. Boats heading south out of Key West are often stopped and warned not to attempt to travel to Cuba.
All we can do is remember the good times we had and take it for what it is worth. It’s a shame, because of what it could have been, but in the words of President Kennedy, “they want to live like dogs so let them live like dogs.”