Two New Things to Read

One's on the web, the other's a book.

Enjoy Where is Cuba Going? by John Jeremiah Sullivan, in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It's long and meandering, in a good way. Sullivan is as flummoxed by the Florida Cuban community and the embargo as everybody else is, except the Florida Cuban community and anybody who has to navigate through them toward election.

Just one thing – he writes:

"Barack Obama was going to open things up, and he did tinker with the
rules regarding travel, but now they say that when you try to follow
these rules, you get caught up in all kinds of forms and tape."

Since his wife is Cuban, he can enter Havana under rules that are different from the ones we used on our visit a few months back, so he wouldn't have any experience with the new rules. For the record, there is a little more paperwork than, say, flying to Paris, akin to the kinds of things you have to file to visit, say, Belarus.But it's no big deal.

And staring down the epic Cuban Embargo had us anxious and alert re-entering Miami, but immigration couldn't have been more bored to see us. We might as well have brought along those Cuban cigars I left behind.


I've also just been reading, and recommend Chasing the Devil: A Journey Through Sub-Saharan Africa in the Footsteps of Graham Greene by Tim Butcher. Tim Butcher is a former British newspaper reporter and war correspondent now living in South Africa, who has that knack for travel in places you probably don't want to visit.

His previous book, Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country, in which he retraced Henry Morton Stanley's 1870 trek, was harrowing. In the new book Butcher sets out to cross Sierra Leone and Liberia. There's a particularly frightening section, and touching tribute, to two friends killed while reporting in Sierra Leone in 2000.

It's good stuff. Both Butcher books are worth a read.