It was the morning of Saturday, March 14 and 41 of us had just gathered at terminal G of Miami’s International Airport to catch our flight to Havana. The day had finally arrived. After two months of learning about the political economy and business environment of Cuba from the classroom, through interesting speakers, case studies and student presentations on topics ranging from healthcare and education to the tobacco and rum industries, we were going to finally land in the island and experience everything first-hand. Expectation had built up, and in conversations with my classmates during our two-hour flight delay, I sensed a mix of excitement and anxiety to discover the mysticism of the culture and beaches in Cuba but also to uncover the realities of the lives of Cubans under the Castro regime. We knew it was a particularly exciting time to visit the island coming from the US, given the recent developments towards an eventual lift of the existing embargo imposed by the US decades ago. We knew a lot would change in the country and we did not want to miss the opportunity to explore it before it begins to open and develop. It was 3pm and after five hours in the airport we had all finally boarded our Global Atlantic charter flight bound to Havana. In 30 minutes we would set foot in the island and begin what would be an unforgettable week.
– Mario R. Graniel ’15