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Sea breezes reminded me of the time my husband and I took a freighter trip in the Caribbean. There were only 3 passengers and we were two of them! We sailed around to various islands and got as far as Venezuela. At every stop we were able to get off and visit whatever place we were at. Sometimes the lovely captain arranged a taxi or some other form of transportation to take us into the city, as the commercial ports were not set up for tourists. It was a lovely way to travel, although not available to anyone 80 years old or older, so I’m glad I got to do it while I could. Nice memories.

I’m planning a 2 weeks trip by cruise in October to tour around Europe. I’ve wanted to go to Paris since I was 9 or 10 and I mentioned that to my oldest son about a year ago. Then he started sending me paypal money as gifts for “my Paris trip”. I figured I’d better plan one! I’ll have one full day in Paris and have booked a shore excursion that will let me see all I wanted to see there – except the Mona Lisa. I’ll see the Louvre, but won’t be going inside. I still travel and mostly by myself. Sometimes a grandchild might go with me. Last year I went to Australia and New Zealand (also a cruise) by myself for almost 3 weeks. I had an awesome time!

I sincerely wish I were off to some place far away. My plan to see all seven continents did not get realized as I missed Australia. There were also quite a few countries to which I dreamed of going but didn’t make. However 40+ at last (and final count as I am now 87) was a fair score. And I did make Antarctica in my 70’s. One of the first was China and I’ve been to most of Europe and a good bit of South America and Africa. This summer will be very exciting though as my youngest daughter’s debut novel (Cursed-launches on 6/25) will bring her to Philly from LA for a few book signings, and in October, my baby brother (he’s only 84) an Arizonan for the last 50 years or so is coming to spend a few days with me. So–I m a happy camper.

I made it to Cuba a couple of years ago while people to people cultural exchange tours were still allowed. I could write a book but you can read a tour book. I want to talk about the people and the way they live. All jobs are given by the government and paid by the government in a Cuban only currency which cannot be exchanged and cannot be spent in tourist stores. A ration book monthly provides some basic foodstuffs but never enough.

With Raul Castro in charge a bit of private enterprise is now allowed. People with houses in town are turning the front room into a barber or beauty shop or a tiny market. People with big homes on a square turn the downstairs into a complete restaurant which can accept the Cuban tourist money.

Property cannot be bought or sold. Whoever was living in a place after the Revolution became the owner. A maid still in the family’s mansion after the family escaped to the US this maid became the owner of the house and could move in 20 of her relatives.

Our lovely Cuban guide whom I’ll call Maria was divorced with twin 3 year old girls whom her mother kept when she had to travel. Due to shortages in nearly everything she had trouble getting tooth paste soap and various foods. The shortages varied Day to day and month to month. Maria is considered fortunate to work in tourism because she gets tips in Cuban tourist money or hard currency from other countries. This means she can sometime shop in tourist shops where supplies are much better.

I’d like to tell you about one more family. The young husband inherited a two car garage with la yard behind it. Inheritance is the only way to accure property. He and his bride moved into the garage and worked on it as they could. Construction materials are very expensive and rare. They now have a six year old and a baby nearly a year. The wife has to return to teaching after a year. The husband works a government job and goes to tourist school at nite to try for a better paying job. They also sell occasional bags of coffee from her family’s farm. The husband buys single cigars given daily to each worker in the cigar factory. He collect the Cigars and boxes them then sells the box when he can.

In the six years the family has lived in the garage they have made the garage the living room, built two small bedrooms with blankets hanging for doors. The small eat in kitchen has a sink refrigerator and a hot plate. A bathroom which we didn’t see is off the kitchen.

These are the type stories you don’t get unless you are there. the Cuban people were friendly to us and are working so hard. I would love to go back but politically that is not feasible now

I hope some of you will share some of your stories.