Reader Carmen emailed me with a link to a site that promotes another group of do-gooders. The Orthodox Christian Mission Center of Long Beach, California is making a trip to Cuba.
This is an exciting time for the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. As the first in what is planned to be visits to mission locations around the world, a unique trip to the country of Cuba will be held from June 3rd to the 8th 2005. This trip will allow participants to see the Orthodox Church in Cuba first hand, witness other Christian activity and explore many aspects of this Caribbean destination.
One of the more shocking things about the site is the photographs - it makes the island look like a paradise. Go take a look. Nowhere on the site do you see anything like this.
With this being a church trip, most of the activities promoted on the site are church related, but the participants are also promised trips to "Cuba's beautiful beaches."
Other activities for the group include trips to museums, visits to the local flea markets, and tours of Havana. There will be free time for individuals to explore and sightsee the island on their own.
What do they sell in a Cuban flea market? Their old rice cookers? Seriously, though, we think of a flea market as a place our affluent society gets rid of things that are no longer needed - Polaroid cameras, typewriters, old mismatched china, etc. Cuba, being a society where folks live on a pound of chicken a month, is not a society that would have what we think of as flea markets. I suppose it's just another place for tourists to buy trinkets and prop up fidel's economy. I see nothing on the site warning folks that spending money in Cuba is illegal for Americans.
Then there are the accommodations:
All accommodations for the group are first class to provide American standards of security and comfort. The group will fly non-stop from Miami International Airport to Cuba's Jose Marti International Airport and will stay at Cuba's premier hotel, the Melia Havana. The hotel offers swimming pools and three restaurants, and is located right next to the beach. Daily breakfast buffets in the hotel are included for everyone as well as lunches where each person can choose to dine at different restaurants throughout the city of Havana. Transportation around the city to all sites and functions will be aboard private comfortable coaches, and translators as well as guides will be with the group for every outing.
On another page, the church brags that the hotel is a 5-star hotel. Deposit for the trip is $1000.
Rich American religious tourists join the millionaire cigar smokers and Canadian caviar eaters while fidel tries to buy off the populace with cheap Chinese rice cookers. I thought Jesus healed the blind and helped us see.