November 2018: Hanover Friends Visit Cuba

Author: Greg Gundlach, Hanover (NH) Friends Meeting


Photo shows 3 women, 2 men, and a boy

back row (l to r): Jenny Keller, Lisa Solbert-Sheldon
front row (l to r): Greg Gundlach, Felix Kreis, Erica Brinton, Julian Grant

Six companions on a Magic School Bus, traveling to a land with different politics, climate, food and culture. 

Our Quaker practice was different as well. We are steeped in silence, while Cuban meetings have ministers and a more scripture centered approach.

Too many memories tumbling out for me to include, but here are a few.

Open-armed welcoming from Friends; Kirenia, Walter & Esther, Emilio, Laeticia, Ramon, and too many others to list.

Two images of horse drawn carts used in Cuba

The old cars (of course) but so many horses used for work and transport

Talking with Emilio thru Jenny because their Russian was better than his English or my Spanish.

Rainstorm and lightning strike in Havana.

Photos of children playing in the streets

Felix playing baseball with children in the street

Lisa sketching and painting and Erica organizing dancing.

The joy that greeted Erica from everyone who knew her from her previous visit.

Jenny discussing the health system with Cuban doctors, and later experiencing it in action while helping Jan, an American Quaker injured in a fall.

Saint Julian navigating us thru buses, taxis, and countless situations that drew on his language skills, cultural experience, and wisdom.

A photo of a boy with paints and a mural that Friends painted

The young boy commenting that our mural had hands with the same color as his skin.

The emotions of learning the U.S. November election results.

Learning about article 68 va! (for same-gender rights) in the proposed Cuban constitution. (It was later removed from the proposal.)

Dining at Walter and Esther’s home, wonderful meals at meeting houses and in the casa particular (pastor's house).

Bus rides in Havana and across the country. Horse taxi rides. The “Cuaquero-mobile” of the Gibara Friends Meeting.

In spite of poverty, the way that people hold onto dignity and purpose, as exemplified by the professionalism of our cave guides in Gibara.

Friends across the island welcomed us to their meetings in many ways, including delightful performances by children.

The warmth of the people.

The poverty that permeated everything and the injustice of it all.