Our series of Cuba Travel Notes continues …. Stay tuned for the third post soon!
Perhaps a better title for this series should be My Ranch and Farm; Compost, Agroecology & Cuba; a Never Ending Journey. The never ending journey part comes into play at multiple levels starting when I wrote the first segment to this series about two months ago. At the time, I imagined there would be enough time to complete each new post within the span of two weeks each. My estimates were off by about six weeks! My apologies, there just wasnt enough hours in the day with an overflowing plate full of farm and school. Plus, I was still sick, so sick Id seriously considered paring my course load down to six units. Thankfully, an awesome instructor provided much needed patience and support enabling me to catch up and finish all twelve units!
Presently, there is a small window to write at least one more segment in this series that properly dates back to my child hood. May be one day there will be time to go back to start at the beginning or my earliest memories of a deep connection to nature and wild places in Goldbeach, Oregon?
Until such time, the post Cuba blog series continues with receipt of my first passport which was delayed because my original birth certificate had to be substituted for an updated certified copy that cost nearly $60. I also received more information about allegedly required inoculations and a recommendation for a physical exam. Accordingly, I flew to California for a cursory physical examination from a doctor familiar with my weakened immune system. He advised to go to the county health department where I resided to update my shots. In December, 2015 when I called the County Health Department office in Woodward, I was told to call Enid office instead. They didnt have shots to accommodate out of country travel. During the call, I made an appointment for a series of six shots they said I needed and drove to Enid a week later. (These were routine shots given to young children plus one to prevent pneumonia for those over 60 years old.) After I arrived in Enid, the county health nurse told me they were short three shots which required another appointment in week after verification that the appropriate shots on hand.
That night and for over a month following there were night chills and right shoulder pain that became my constant companions. I declined preventative rabies shot the nurse recommended after a discussion and disagreement about Cubas status as a third world country. (According to the literature Id read Cuba was a first world country with excellent medical care and an outstanding public educational system with the highest ratio of scientists in Latin America.) After the second series of three shots, the chills, fevers, and pain increased and persisted throughout the journey to Cuba.
Sometime, in the fall of 2014, my son Christopher Kanan (he changed his last name for publishing purposes) announced he was becoming engaged to his ten year girlfriend with a joint family celebration in Las Vegas. Las Vegas was where his many of his brides family resided including her grandmother. Two houses were rented and we stayed in Las Vegas from December 23rd to December 29th which included a unique cultural experience, or a colorful and beautiful traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony and party!
After returning home for a couple of days I drove back to Oklahoma City to the airport on January 2nd for a 4pm flight to Miami. The plane was delayed and arrived in Miamis enormous airport almost two hours late after 1am on the 3rd. The airport was largely deserted with the moving stairs immobilized. Not having a clue what to do, I headed to the gate where I thought our group travelling to Cuba were meeting before realizing that Id probably have to leave the secure area to check into the terminal again. So I made the decision to try sleeping in a chair where it was secure. Unfortunately, with numerous vacuums running nonstop I couldnt doze off so moved downstairs to the unsecure area where there was little seating to wait around 6 am on January 3rd, 2015.
Around 9am in the ticketing terminal I spotted a familiar face from the Virgin Islands, the Secretary of Agriculture, and a Southern SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) member. Soon after came another SARE member, an organic farmer from the Western Region (Hawaii) and a writer from Texas who was like me a member of the Texas based group, Freedom to Farm and Ranch. Once our small group assembled we were walked to another terminal to check in for our flight to Cuba which had shifted from 10am to a 2pm departure time. We were reminded that when visiting Cuba patience is always a prerequisite. Finally, we were boarded and were flying to Cuba!
We landed in Havana on January 3, 2015, and had to go to exit through customs to find our tour guide and tour bus. I found the experience confusing and frightening since although I was with a group it was separated. Plus, I had never travelled to another country before. More or less I followed a large mass of people moving towards a sign that said customs. Once through customs there was someone with a Food First sign that directed individuals towards a tour bus waiting in the parking lot outside the Havana Airport. I was amazed at the number of American planes parked in the terminal!
Once all our group was accounted for, the writer couldnt find us initially, the bus travelled to our hotel for check in. Some of us had roommates wed not met before. In my case, I was fortunate to room with a young beginning farmer from Portland, Oregon. Its been my long time observations that amongst food advocates and farmers there is no generation gap other than perhaps less an attraction to late nights with those of us a bit older. Sadly, I missed the Havana Jazz night out because I was sick. But, Im getting ahead of myself. And, since Im also late getting to the farm in order to write this, readers will need to stay tuned for the third section in the near future!
Thanks for reading!
Kathy Moore, Owner
Anichini Moore Ranch & Farm
Phone: (405) 823-8295
Founder: OK Composting Council