Mary Allan recalls: When I was about nine years old I had two large closets in my bedroom. One was for me, and the other one was a mystery. My mother had told me not to open the closet door as she had some valuable clothes hanging there. I was a good girl for a long time, and then I could not control myself any longer, I opened her closet!
Mommy had been a Ziegfield girl before she married my father. Her part in the show , she neither sang nor danced, but walked about the stage looking glamorous wearing sparkling costumes and having a smile on her face at all times.
Inside the closet I discovered lush, black velvet evening dresses embroidered with jewels, red velvet gowns with what my mother called rhumba skirts that were gathered at the back of the gown and produced a dramatic effect during exotic dances. There were glorious black chiffon gowns, dresses handmade of silk that made me wish I were more than nine years old. Oh, if only that collection of evening costumes could talk!
I carefully moved through the glitter and glam savoring the stories of my mother dancing the night away in Cuba among the laughter and music. One day, I promised myself, I would borrow my mother’s dresses and discover Cuba by myself.
Years passed, dresses were sold and my mother died along with my dreams of Cuba. Then, travel to Cuba was banned for American citizens. Now, much to my delight and excitement Americans can once again travel to Cuba and many tour operators like Globus, Latour and Cuba Tour Planner are offering package tours to Cuba, adding the statement “Discover its people…Go before it changes!”
A new company, Rhoad Scholar, feels that there’s no place else like Cuba in the world (my mother would have agreed as she danced the night away).
The company says it’s one of the few organizations authorized to travel to Cuba. One tour is “The People of Cuba. Meet leading musicians , athletes and artists (PROGRAM #20610 JUV). These programs are educational in nature. You’ll join local musicians in the heart of Havana along with athletes, artists and performers, dancers and entrepreneurs for an intimate, inside look at their world.
Attend a rehearsal by a Cuban dance company, and explore Ernest Hemingway’s farm, Finca la Vigia. It’s over a two hour tour, so wear comfortable shoes! The program runs through May 12, 2016 with accommodations at the famout Hotel Nacional where my mother stayed in the 1920’s.
Visas are required which Rhoad Scholar (1-800-454-5768) will provide with their tours.