Glimpses of Cuba Two Generations Apart, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

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Ed and I at a bus stop for tourists east of Havana.
A new bridge. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon.
A new bridge at tourist stop. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon.

It has been awhile since I have blogged; a lot has happened. I think I’ll start with Cuba.

One of the stories my father relays to me with great relish is his 1954 Stuart High School senior trip to Havana, Cuba. Can you imagine that? A senior trip to Cuba? My dad grew up on Riverside Drive in Stuart, Florida, in the 1950s, on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

With a broad smile and sparkling eyes, he tells of magnificent buildings, music, art, restaurants, and night clubs in the Port of Havana, and “lots of fun.” “In fact one of the students had so much fun, he was sent back to the Stuart!” My dad laughs out loud, with thoughts of the “good old days.”

My father’s Stuart High School’s class traveled with chaperones before Fidel Castro’s 1958 rise to power over Batista and later the embargo and tumultuous history that the world has watched unfold for over a half century.

My husband, Ed and I,  traveled for very different reason during a very different time. Two weeks ago we left on a journey with the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida and we were classified by the government as”pilgrims.”

Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row far right.
Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row one from far right.

Our journey was led, by Bishop Leo Frade of Miami and his wife.

The trip took about fifty people, including other priests, to Havana, Cardenas, Lemonar, Bolondron, Metanzas and back again to Havana. We visited churches that were rebuilding since the communist government allowed them in the 1990s to once again worship. They had few resources but great spirit.

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Group in Old Havana square.
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It was a great education for me. If I had to describe the experience in one sentence I would say: “Governments are corrupt not people.”

To see the smiles and hear the appreciation of those we met along the way, to think about all they have endured, to realize more than ever before how much I take for granted.

I have visited  poor countries before. I lived and taught in Berlin, Germany in 1990 just after the Berlin wall came down and East Germany was emerging from the brace of communism…I think what was so different for me about Cuba, is that it is so close to home. The flight took less than an hour. It ‘s climate is much like Florida, Cuba is geologically considered part of North America.

Although most of the buildings were falling apart, it is a beautiful, beautiful country…So here are some photos. May the next generation of Thurlow’s see something better, but may the smiles and the warm spirits of the Cuban people stay the same.

With our guide.
With our guide.
Church in Limonar
…Limonar at the church.
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…..There was no roof.
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….The priests.
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…School kids in uniform. Cuba is highly literate.
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…Old American cars still running…
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Havana
Havana.
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…Fixing up old buildings
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Last night dad and I take out his souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
Last night my Dad and I took out the souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
School bus from 1954 senior trip.
School bus from 1954 Stuart High School senior trip.

Cuba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

About Jacqui:

Although born at Travis Air Base, California, Jacqui considers herself a native of Stuart, Florida, having moved there at eight months old. Her father’s family, originally from Syracuse, New York, has lived in Stuart since 1952. Her mother is a 5th generation Floridian from Gainesville.

Jacqui is journalism and German graduate of the University of Florida, and an education master’s graduate of the University of West Florida. She went on to teach both English and German and after a serious accident of breaking her neck, started selling real estate. In 2008 she ran for the Town of Sewall’s Point Commission and has served since 2008; She is former mayor. During this time she saw the opportunity to help showcase the work of a locally formed river group, the River Kidz, and this has been her passion ever. She incorporates youth/river education into her political work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Jacqui is the treasurer/secretary of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; has chaired the Florida League of Cities Environmental and Energy Committee; was chair, and long time member of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; is an alternate for the Water Resources Advisory Commission for the South Florida Water Management District; and a board member for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation. She also serves as an (ex-officio) board member for the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund, and is head administrator for the River Kidz.Jacqui is a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Jacqui’s reach involves not only local, but state and federal government. In 2013,  she served on Senator Joe Negron’s panel for the Select Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee. In 2014, she actively supported the elections of both Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who have both been strong supporters of Indian River Lagoon issues. In 2015, she is part of the Florida League Cities Treasure Coast Advocacy team. Jacqui received the Everglades Coalition’s prestigious 2015 “John V. Kabler Award” for “Grassroots Activism.” Most recently she has been recruited as a fellow by the University of Florida/IFAS’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute Class XV.Jacqui is running for Martin County Commissioner District 1, 2016.

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