Mrs. Dillon Travels to Cuba


Francisco Acuna, Reporter

“We wanted to go somewhere that had beautiful blue water beaches with white sand… the thought of Cuba came to mind and we both looked at each other thinking, that’s it!” said librarian Mrs. Dillon, explaining how she and her daughter Haley, who is a Sahuaro alumni from class of 2004, chose Cuba as their destination. This vacation was planned in favor of milestone birthdays that both had turned within the past year and a half. Cuba served as a perfect destination for the mother-daughter pair since the two are adventurous travelers who wanted to use their Spanish skills. Although relations between our nations have improved with Obama’s visit to Cuba in March of 2016, restrictions still apply to Americans traveling in Cuba. There are only twelve reasons an American is allowed to travel in Cuba, such as religious purposes, journalism, family visits, and education.“You can’t just go sit on the beach and work on your tan,” explains Mrs. Dillon.

Mrs. Dillon went to Cuba through an Australian company called Cuban Adventures. Cuban Adventures puts together no more than twelve people in a group with a local Cuban tour guide, where you stay in what are called Casas Particulares for a cultural immersion experience. Casa Particulares are homes of Cuban families, which are comparable to the situation in Air B n’ B and Couch Surfer, where you stay with a local family who has a space/room for a guest to rent. Since Mrs. Dillon was receiving a culturally educating experience, she was able to use people-to-people as the purpose of her trip. “It also gave us some confidence in traveling there since there’s not very many hotels ready to accommodate you. It’s really just in the beginning stages of tourism in Cuba,” says Mrs. Dillon. Typically in a Casa Particular the host makes breakfast for his/her guests. Mrs. Dillon speaks fondly of her experience with traditional Cuban breakfasts, “Every morning we had a beautiful spread of fruits – strawberry, pineapple, guava, plantains… as well we would have a very traditional breakfast called a tortilla which is an egg that is cooked flat and is about the size of a corn tortilla.” 
Not only did the mother daughter pair visit the capital city Havana, taking in sites such as El Malecon and La Habana Vieja, the two also traveled to less busy not tourist-ran areas.  “Soroa was the most rural place we went. It was beautiful with palm trees and green hills,” says Mrs. Dillon. Soroa is where Mrs. Dillon and her daughter celebrated New Year’s Eve. She had a very traditional experience in a Casa Particular with a family that roasted a pig for a feast at midnight. One Cuban New Year’s tradition is stuffing clothes with hay to look like a mannequin or scarecrow, and at midnight burn these sacks of hay in the streets symbolizing goodbye to the year and a greeting to the year ahead.

“On the way back home we had to spend a night in Cancun which wasn’t bad at all,” says Mrs. Dillon about the grand finale to her vacation. Cancun is a beautiful city known around the world as a destination for travelers for its beautiful beaches along the yucatan peninsula bordering the Carribean Sea. During her night in Cancun she went swimming in the Carribean under the stars. All in all, Mrs. Dillon had the experience of a life time, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She came back with a new perspective, and memories that will last a life time. “It made me question what I always learned in the United States about Cuba and the revolution, and that Castro’s intentions may have been because he was trying to overthrow Batista but somewhere it wasn’t executed as he imagined…. unfortunately people suffered, but it opened my mind to considering that there may be another side to this story,” says Mrs. Dillon.