Cuba Preparations

Preparations for this project started months ago. Assembling a team with people from 5 different states and 3 different countries is a complicated undertaking. We have been communicating via email arranging to ship supplies to Florida, where Rick will take them to Miami when he meets up with the rest of the team. We have water test kits, medicine, laptops and water filters we will be taking with us to Cuba. We have confirmed hotel reservations, in- country transportation, plane tickets and travel visas. We will assemble in Miami Friday evening and make our final preparations for the Saturday morning flight. We fly to Holguin airport in eastern Cuba and we will spend our first 3 nights in Santiago de Cuba. From there we fly to Havana for 4 nights. We will visit numerous sites where we will test the water, perform maintenance on the filter systems and make repairs.
The first right of passage was to find the meeting room at Florida International University. We arrived on time, parked, used our cell phone to pay for parking and then after it was too late Cordella realized the keys were in her purse and all the doors were locked. She waited by the van for AAA while Rick went to room 220 in the Green Library. He found the building, got a pass to enter using his passport and then arrived at an empty room. The woman in the closest office tried to help but could not find out where the group relocated to. As Rick was getting ready to leave the building a guard spotted him and told him the group had moved to room 835. What luck! Back up stairs, in the elevator, only to find the room numbers only go to 830. He asked for help and was told you need to go through room 830 to find the other rooms inside - 835! The lecture was just starting. Dr Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuba n Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Socialcultural Studies was giving us a private lesson on Cuban history. He covered from the Spanish American War, Bay of Pigs, Castro regime, US immigration and embargo, D17 signed by President Obama reopening relations between Cuba and the US, and relations under Prsident Trump. Most importantly he gave us a glimpse of what has shaped Cuban culture and foreign relations for the past 100 years. We had open questions and discussion at the end. Cordella arrived at the room in time to take a group photo.
After our discussion at FIU we arranged to meet at 6:30PM at Todos Los Santos (TLS) church. Our group was invited for a dinner, discussion and prayer service. TLS is the first episcopal church in the US established by Cubans. They have a strong focus on unification and reconciliation. We had wonderful meal of a cuban pork, rice, beans, plantain chips and soda in the parish hall. Several members of the congregation also joined us. After dinner we went into the church and had a prayer service of reconciliation. The service originated from the Cathedral in Coventry England, where after being bombed by the Nazi's destroying the cathedral the Dean of the Cathedral found the floor covered with nails that had fallen from the roof and they formed a cross on the floor. He loudly prayed "Lord Forgive". Acknowledging forgiveness is needed by everyone, including yourself, not just your enemies. We prayed for the people of Cuba, people from Cuba, the governments and for reconciliation. It was a beautiful service in Spanish and English. after the service our group headed back to the hotel to prepare bags and get ready to meet at the airport by 7:30AM the next day.

UPDATED: 2018-02-15 18:16:57