Madame Noire documents travel story of Torrey in Havana

Posted: 12-Oct-15 11:34

An empowering female website designed to give space and voice to successful black women has recently teamed up with another website specialising in travel-related topics and ideas for women travellers of black or mixed ethnicity. As a result, some Black Girl Fly travellers and contributors are picked to be interviewed by Madame Noir and featured on the website for a special weekly series. Today we cover the story of Torrey and her experience of Havana as a multi-coloured city.

Madame Noire documents travel story of Torrey in Havana

A website aimed at a black women audience, Madame Noir, has recently featured an article by Black Girl Fly, an inspirational travel website for women of coloured ethnicity. Kicking off what is now a partnership between the two sites to feature a weekly travel story by a Black Girl Fly member on Madame Noir, the latter has taken out the task of interviewing one of these female travellers each week to feature them on a new series, the first of which is entitled: Black Girl Fly: Torrey Takes on Havana. This is the one we'll cover here today.

The interview-style feature has a conversational tone between Madame Noir editors and the traveller in question, who in this case was Torrey Beasley and who was documenting her recent trip to Havana.

Main questions included how Torrey, as a US-based travel navigated around the current laws to arrange her trip to Cuba, how easy it proved to do, the expense factor of such a trip and what were the highlights of her experience in Havana.

On how easy it has now become to travel to Cuba for ordinary American citizens Torrey enlightens other prospective travellers explaining:

" I started with “applying” for a license to travel through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This was done totally online. It was simple and straightforward. All I needed to provide was my proposed dates for travel, where I planned on going (which city) and my proposed reason for travel. I chose “professional research” as my reason. In the explanation I included information on visiting the University of Havana and conducting personal research through interviews with students and faculty.

About a month after I submitted my application, I received a letter from OFAC telling me it is not necessary to apply for a specific license to travel to Cuba, as long as your travel fits into one of the twelve categories (….) "

Regarding arranging travel to Cuba on her own, forgoing pre-arranged tours with a travel agency due to the expense, Torrey explained how she decided to book her own flights to Cuba and accommodation separately, routing through Mexico and using credit card loyalty points, which made it all work out much cheaper.

"My first flight was on Southwest from Chicago to Cancun. I was able to book this flight using points and only paid the taxes (…) Then I booked my flight from Cancun to Havana through Interjet, a Mexican airline. I booked through their website using my American Express credit card. (…) I had no issues with booking the flight."

Speaking of her experience in Cuba and the best moment of the trip for her she said there were two:

";…the first was having the opportunity to converse with a couple students from the University of Havana. They taught me so much about the university’s history as it pertains to Cuban history, the dynamics of higher education in Cuba (…) and what it’s like being a person of color (one student of Afro-Cuban decent) in Havana.

The second was escaping to the beach for an impromptu visit with my new Cuban friend."

Other highlights of her trip to Cuba included trying a mojito, which she describes as a must-do whether you like mint or not (she insists it’s a requirement to have at least one) eating out at a private family-owned restaurant to experience homely local cuisine and to puff on a cigar.

When asked to name one thing in Havana every traveller should see, she simply replied:

"You’d better not go to Cuba and only see one thing! But a definite must is the Plaza de la Revolución."

Talking about here experience of returning to the US and dealing with customs after being to Cuba, she was surprised at the straightforwardness of it all, no questions asked.

"Upon returning to Chicago, my passport stamps were not checked. I was not asked where I traveled. I was not questioned. At all. They took my import receipt and I bounced."


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