This past month we were blessed with making our second trip to Cuba! To say it was just as incredible as the first is an understatement. This time, though, we added a little bit more travel to our excursion. We spent our first 3 days in Havana catching up and spending some long awaited time with our Cuban “family”. We love being able to spend time in their home, chatting, laughing, eating, and just “being”. As usual, we spent some time in Vieja Habana and this time we actually did a fair amount of exploring on our own. Our 3 days there ended quickly as we boarded the Viazul bus for Camiguey, one of our favorite spots. We love Camiguey for it’s people, the beauty of the city and the immense history. How surprised we were when we got off the bus and there were about 12 of our Camiguey “family” there to meet us! Our time was spent, again, chatting, catching up, eating, exploring, worshipping with the people there and praying for them. Our hearts are heavy at times for the people of Cuba, but they fill our hearts with love, laughter and everything that they have to give. But, our next adventure began in another 3 days. Off we were on Viazul to Santiago de Cuba. We’ve not been there before and we were excited to see what it was like. The bus ride was beautiful through the mountains and valleys of sugar cane, tobacco and coffee farms. Santiago is beautiful with a harbor area that is becoming an up and coming spot. The view of the city and countryside from the top of the main cathedral is breathtaking. A day at a mission church in took us into the Sierra Maestra mountains where the revolution began. Another day took us to a beach side mission. Both incredibly breathtaking as the next. Our time in Santiago allowed us also to explore the cemetery where Marti and Castro are both buried. We arrived in time for the changing of the guard. It was similar to our changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but in my opinion, far more precise and regimented. We spent our time getting to know the people of Santiago and the churches we were working with. We spent time praying for them and for the city as they spent time praying for us. But, our adventure didn’t end here. We were saddened during our trip because of the horrific plane crash that took place the day after we arrived. Then they had more rain and flooding than they have had in 30 some years. Not even a hurricane produced as much damage, flooding, loss of property, and deaths as this years rains did. Of course, the main part of the weather was taking place right in Central Cuba, where we needed to travel through on our way back to Havana. It was an interesting trip back to say the least. We ended up driving through flooded roads, horrendous downpours, detours, we think at one time the driver may have been a little lost and of course, no wi-fi, which meant no way to connect with our friends in Havana. Eighteen and a half hours later we arrived in Havana, tired, hungry and thankful to put our feet on the ground there. We were blessed with having our friend from Camiguey with us the entire time in Santiago and part of the way back. We could see the difference between this visit and last year, with more products available in the stores, tons of rebuilding and new construction, a wider variety of choices of both food and drink in the restaurants. The people of Cuba are loving, generous and make you feel as if you really belong, even when you botch the little bit of Spanish that you may know! They may laugh in jest with you and then they will speak English to you!
It’s an experience visiting Cuba. An experience that lingers for a very long time in our hearts and in our souls! We are anxious for our next visit!