(circa 2000)

Before You Go:

– read Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante
– read Fidel: A Critical Portrait by Tad Szulc
– read Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life and all the articles you can find by Jon Lee Anderson
– read Trading With the Enemy by Tom Miller
– watch the films Balseros, Strawberry & Chocolate, and Before Night Falls 
– brush up on Cuba’s Revolutionary history
– learn at least some basic steps of salsa and rumba
– learn to play dominoes
– contact Pastor’s for Peace or Global Exchange about transporting medical supplies
– pack Spandex, tube tops, toilet paper, soap, protein-fortified snacks, and Vitamins

While You’re There:

– catch a baseball game
– stay in a casa particular (a room in a family home)
– eat in a paladar (a restaurant in someone’s living room)
– dance at a rumba club
– flirt shamelessly
– attend a political rally
– stroll along the Malecon
– catch a hip-hop show, especially during the Annual Cuban Rap Festival in August
– play dominoes on someone’s stoop
– smoke a Cohiba
– ride around in a ’32 De Soto
– drink a mojito and a daquiri

Don’t Forget To Visit:

– Salvador Gonzalez Escalona’s studio at Hamel No. 1054, e/ Aramburo y Hospital en Centro Habana, especially on a Sunday afternoon
– Coppelia’s ice cream parlor
 Museo de la Revolucion
– The University of Havana
– Cementerio de Colon, a world renowned cemetery

You’ll Know You’re Catching On When You:

– wear Spandex and tube tops, regardless of your body size
– have an extensive conversation about Fidel without ever saying his name
– find yourself whistling, calling out, or responding to sexy passersby
– find yourself in line at a posada, or love motel
– your hips swivel instinctively to music
– dance even when there’s no music
– can cook with no ingredients
– can fix anything with nothing
– crack jokes about misfortune
– always manage to have a good time
– resolutely declare that Cuban music is superior to any other culture’s in the world

Once You Return:

– write a letter to your congressional representatives demanding that they push to end the trade embargo