Sunday, October 31, 2010

Buenos dias a todo en los Estados Unidos de La Habana!

Vedado District of Havana
Good day to all in the US from Amy in Havana! I experienced some Internet connectivity issues yesterday, so please pardon the delay in blogging.

What a warm, inviting city Havana is! After a smooth landing at Jose Marti International Airport about midday on the 30th, the AAUW delegation settled into their rooms at the Melia Cohiba Hotel (in the Vedado district of Havana on the Malecon, the city's seawall). In the evening we enjoyed a delicious Cuban meal (chicken, black beans, rice, fried plantains & French fries with coffee and dessert) at El Aljibe Restaurant in the Miramar district of Havana. Muy bien! We also set our clocks back one hour last night when Cuba switched from daylight savings time to its winter schedule.

Today's plan: bus tour of Havana, visit to an open-air market, lunch in Old Havana, an evening at the Cuban ballet, plus dinner and a show at the Tropicana tonight. (Professional meetings start tomorrow, Monday, November 1.)

FYI: Rita, one of our delegation guides, worked 24 years for the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC) in the foreign affairs section. She traveled widely to various world conferences (in Nairobi and Beijing, for example) and to several countries to study the status of women around the globe. She said that her work with  FMC changed her life, showing her that women worldwide share many basic concerns and challenges. Rita is a lawyer and has a master's in sexuality. In addition to leading tour groups, Rita still does consulting for FMC and CENESEX, Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and Research. She also teaches criminal justice at a university.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some scribblings before departure

AAUW is breaking through barriers once again! This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to research gender equity and women's roles in Cuban society. Most of the AAUW Cuba delegates (including the Coloradans in the group) will fly to Miami tomorrow, staying overnight and then arising early to catch our charter flight to Havana on the 30th. We will fly back to Miami on November 4th.

FYI:  Did you know that Miami is the only U.S. city planned by a woman (Julia Tuttle)? This fact appeared when I printed out my boarding passes for my flight from Denver to Miami via Chicago.

Some background on U.S. citizen travel to and purchases in Cuba: Entry is restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Treasury Department.  Each member of the delegation must be in compliance with the General License issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control authorizing full-time professionals to conduct a full-time schedule of non-commercial research activities in Cuba with the likelihood that this research will be publicly disseminated. Purchases by our AAUW delegates are strictly limited to informational materials (books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, paintings, sculptures, etc.) and to expenses directly related to travel and sustenance.

Hoping to post from Havana on the 30th,
Amy Blackwell

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AAUW Colorado goes to Cuba!

Approximately 50 AAUW members are going to Havana, Cuba, to research gender equity and women's roles in Cuban society, October 30 - November 4. Included in this delegation are Coloradans Amy Blackwell (Douglas County & Lakewood) and Charlotte Tyson (Longmont). Amy (That's me!) is the designated blogger for the Colorado contingent. And she's hoping to have daily Internet access to let the folks back home know about our research findings. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!