Posted: Feb 12, 2009 9:09am ET
I ran into a fan in the Iberostar Hotel lobby as I was waiting to get picked up by a friend to go out for the day in a boat around Varadero. I think he was Canadian, if I properly picked up his accent.
“Hi,” he said. “I just wanted to tell you that I love your work.”
That was really nice of him. And I felt really happy. It was a good way to start the day. He said that he was there for a week just hanging at the beach, enjoying the sun and smoking cigars. The Iberostar, as I wrote in my last blog, was not really my thing, but it was great to see a fellow cigar smoker enjoying it all.
Americans may be enjoying the same in Cuba sooner than they think if a new bill one day makes it into law. It’ s bill HR874IH, which was introduced on February 4 by Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.). It is called the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act.” And it states, among other things, that “the president may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, the travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel.”
If I am not mistaken, similar legislation in both the House and the Senate have passed a few years ago, and a proposed law was agreed on in Congress, but former President Bush vetoed it. I know that most legislation never makes it out of committee but I think this one has a very, very good chance, and if it ends up on President Obama’s desk, it is not going to get vetoed.
That’s why I found the construction in Varadero all the more impressive. There are a half dozen more hotels being built as well as an enlargement of the marina at the end of the island. Right now it holds something like 300 boats, but in the next three years, about 1200 boats will be able to dock there. There will be high-end bungalows to stay in and a 300-seat fish and steakhouse. The large building at the beginning of my video is the restaurant, which is supposed to be done at the end of the month.
My amigos that work in Varadero say that the area is getting ready for Americans arrival. New hotels are being built. Old ones will be upgraded. The service is here and it’s beautiful and safe for the Caribbean.
“Just think of it,” one said, as we were having a lunch of lobster and shrimp while drinking delicious chilled whites from Marques de Murrieta, the excellent Spanish winery, on a gorgeous beach about 30 minutes from the marina. “You could leave from Miami in your cigarette boat in the morning, be here in two hours for lunch, smoke a cigar, and then drive back.”
That sounds like paradise to me. The future is closer than we think.
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