Carroll Chamber to return to Cuba in November

With relations thawing between the U.S. and Cuba, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce is offering what it is billing as a chance to explore Cuba before it becomes another commercialized tourist hot spot.

In November, for the third time in three years, the chamber will offer a trip to the Caribbean nation.


The nine-night trip will feature stops in three different Cuban cities and one night in Miami, and is open to anyone, including those not affiliated with the chamber or those living outside of Carroll County and the state of Maryland.

"To be able to go there now, before the actual embargo ends, it's like being able to step back in time," Chamber President Mike McMullin said.


On Tuesday, the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement to allow commercial air traffic between the two countries for the first time in decades.

"I think that's just one more step toward ending the embargo, which is why everyone should go," McMullin said. "This is the time to go."

The cost of $4,099 per person includes airfare from Miami, hotels and most food, McMullin said. Highlights, he said, will include a tour of the Museum of the Revolution, a discussion of Havana's historic architecture and a day trip to Cuba's famous tobacco fields in the western region of the country, among other things.

McMullin has been on both of the chamber's previous Cuba trips — in May 2014 and November 2015 — and said he is excited to return to the country.

"It's going to be the longest trip we've done," he said of the trip, which is scheduled for Nov. 11-20.

After spending one night in Miami, the group will journey to Cuba, where they will spend a few nights each in Havana, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba, McMullin said.

"You do get a chance to see all different parts of the island," he said.

Lynn Wheeler, executive director of Carroll County Public Library, said she enjoyed the chance to see firsthand the country's cigar-making operations when she and her husband attended the chamber's 2015 trip.

"I absolutely loved every minute of it," Wheeler said. "The people were lovely and the country is beautiful."

The group also made a visit to a print shop in the city of Santa Clara, she said, where they met employees who spend their days working on equipment that Wheeler said looked like it hadn't been upgraded since the 1950s.

"There is a great [sense] of pride in Cuba," Wheeler said. "We were so inspired with their work ethics and their ability to get things done."

John Yingling, of Crawford Yingling Insurance, liked his visit to the country in 2014 with the chamber so much that he returned for a second trip last year.


Yingling said he especially liked the feeling the experience gave him of stepping back in time. With the normalization of relations, he said he fears that aspect of Cuba could soon disappear. That's why, he said, he recommends anyone who can afford to take up the chamber's offer. He and his wife are even considering joining the trip for the third time in November, he said.

"It's just a place where everything is changing every single day," he said. "It's still an adventure."

Above all else, McMullin said, the trip is a chance for people to experience something so few Americans have.

"It just broadens your horizons," he said.

More information:

For information about the trip, go to www.carrollcountychamber.org/featured/were-going-back-to-cuba or contact Mike McMullin at mmcmullin@carrollcountychamber.org.



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