With relationships normalizing for the first time in 50 years, many are hopeful and expectant of a return to travel between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba.
Key West, FL – On July 20th, for the first time in five decades, the two nations of Cuba and the United States took the first steps towards normalizing their relationship. Each officially reopened their embassy in the other’s country and announced plans for more formal services celebrating this dramatic switch in the near future. Although there is still a lot to work out, diplomats from the beleaguered nation 90 miles south of Key West, Florida are excited about the future.
“The significance of opening the embassies is that trust and respect that you can see; both sides are treating the other with trust and respect,” said longtime Cuban diplomat and analyst Carlos Alzugaray, speaking on the 20th to reporters outside the newly reopened Cuban Embassy in Washington for a story first reported by the Associated Press. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be conflicts — there are bound to be conflicts — but the way that you treat the conflict has completely changed.”
Another change that many people around the world – but especially Americans – are eager to see is the removal of travel restrictions between the two nations. As part of the 54 year trade embargo, almost no travel has been allowed. That change has residents of Key West anticipating the future.
“It’s time to rebuild what Key West and Cuba had,” said Key West City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, himself a native of Cuba who spent his first ten years there. He recently had the chance to visit since he left, as part of a humanitarian trip, and is eager to go back adding. “I am going to represent the city officially this time. And I would also like to call to have a Havana delegation come to Key West.”
Iconic airline Pan Am’s first international flight was between these two southern island cities, and although many people certainly expect air travel to be part of the future, others are looking to another blast from the past and are hoping that ferry service resumes between the nations. Regardless of how they travel, people working and living in Key West agree that it will mean a lot more tourists, and excitement.
“There is such a connection between the two islands that people are itching for the opportunity to travel back and forth,” said Norman Vogel, owner of the Key West restaurant the Roof Top Café. He has yet to visit but said he would make plans the first minute it becomes an option. “The opportunity to take a day trip, or go for a long weekend, and experience how each city and island influenced each other is one that can’t be passed up.”
Vogel’s idea of a day trip obviously would include an airplane, but for Commissioner Yaniz, his thoughts are definitely nautical. “With today’s technology and the boats that I’m hearing about, [it’s] four hours, four and a half hours to Havana,” Yaniz said. “Just enough time to have two mojitos, dance a little salsa and you’re in Havana.”
Roof Top Cafe is located at 308 Front Street, just above the Agave 308 Tequila Bar on the utmost Southern point of the United States, Key West, Florida. For group events contact the Event Coordinator at [email protected] For general information on Roof Top Cafe, visit the website at www.rooftopcafekeywest.com or call the restaurant directly: 305-294-2042.
Jack Terry, MarketersMedia
August 7, 2015
Jack Terry is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who has lived in Key West for several years.