Last updated on December 15, 2018
“So, when do you head out again, where are you going next?”
And that is the ten million dollar question, my friends.
Truth? I don’t know.
I have a conundrum. I’m living at my parents’ house, readjust to life in the U.S., and plotting next steps. When I left a year ago, I was supposed to return to Los Angeles at the end of this trip. I feel in my heart that’s not the right next step—I’ve felt that way for a while. Even when I left, a part of me knew I wouldn’t return to LA right way.
Two months ago, while backpacking Ireland, the last stop on my round the world trip, my plan was simple: come home, see family and friends, stay through Christmas, then backpack south through South America starting in January.
Other travelers invited me to hike Machu Picchu with them. But I have other options . . . confusing options.
I may visit Cuba next.
My dad’s best friend is a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico and he’s hoping to get approved for a permit to dock in Havana Harbor—if he does get it, then I have a ride to Cuba! If he doesn’t, then I will fly through Mexico en route to Cuba, since Americans can’t legally backpack Cuba for fun. And also, I have a South African travel friend who will meet me there no matter how I arrive, if I head that way.
The big fat reality check, however, is the fact that it’s a bit illegal for me to Cuba as an American. And by “a bit illegal,” I mean that it’s flat out against the law for me, as an American, to spend money in Cuba, though going there isn’t illegal per se . . . as long as I don’t spend money?!
Since the U.S. government still has an embargo against Cuba, gung-ho travelers like struggle to visit a country that lies just 90 miles off US soil.
And as my favorite Nepali phrase says, raamro chaina: not good.
Reading up about other Americans who have ventured to Cuba despite the embargo tells me it’s possible to fly to Mexico, forgo the exit stamp (possibly with a small bribe), and find myself wandering La Habana in no time.
Now I just have to decide if it’s worth it. I would have to bring all the cash that I would need because U.S. bank and credit cards don’t work in Cuba. But a small hiccup, it’s still possible. Is it the right next step though?
And then, as if I weren’t already feeling a bit confused as to what I want to do, I’m also considering heading back to Cambodia to volunteer at FLO. I spent time there earlier this year and enjoyed working with the teachers to implement lesson plans for the 200+ kids in the FLO program.
My truly crazy thought: Can I do all three? Head to Cuba, stay for a month or so, then fly back to Mexico, make my way to South America to meet my friends. I would then come home for the summer before heading out to Southeast Asia. Sounds doable right? Perhaps if I were independently wealthy—which I’m not, by the way! I still work remotely every single day. :)
I’m brainstorming here and would love to hear thoughts/experience/tips on Americans traveling to Cuba! Or just thoughts on where I should head next in general! :-)