Regarding “Travel restrictions may hamper Tampa’s air service to Cuba” (Metro, March 30):
Your staff writes that “due to the embargo, Americans never see the real Cuba as the government controls the itinerary.” I was fortunate to visit Cuba for a week last year on a cultural exchange program that included five nights in Havana. According to my Cuban friends in Tampa, I did see much of the “real Cuba.”
It was an eye-opener to see the way people live with such limited resources. I had the chance to talk to many Cuban people who worked in the hotels and other stops along the way and get their local points of view. I saw people begging at the Che Guevara monument when our bus arrived. We stopped in villages to view artwork, a school of dance, several farms and a historic cemetery. Along the way, it was obvious that the majority of Cubans have a very poor to minimal lifestyle.
We ended our seven-day tour in Cayos Villa Clara Key. I was surprised to stay in a five-star resort on the beach there filled with Canadian tourists!
I understand there are places that the Cuban government does not want tourists to see. With the extensive deteriorating architecture in Havana, plus what we saw along the roads, I had seen enough to get the general idea.
I am a seasoned traveler, and this experience will be one that I will never forget. I do believe these cultural exchange programs will allow the visitor to experience the negatives and positives of this country, and if you should get a chance, go!