Tag Archives: Maite Hernandez

One Westporter’s Wondrous Cuba

After a welcome thaw in US-Cuba relations, much about the island 90 miles from the Florida Keys is once again uncertain.

Hurricane Irma inflicted severe damage. Mysterious illnesses have afflicted American embassy personnel in Havana. President Trump has pledged to roll back President Obama’s policies of openness.

Which, says Maite Hernandez, makes this the perfect time to visit.

The Westporter’s parents were born in Cuba. When Fidel Castro took over, they fled to Miami. They soon moved to Puerto Rico, which reminded them of home.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

Maite grew up among her parents’ Cuban friends. She learned to love their food, and heard stories about their homeland.

In 1997, she and her siblings visited Cuba for the first time. She felt like she was home. She met cousins who had never left the island. Immediately, it felt as if they’d grown up together.

She returned twice, in 2011 and 2013. Every time she leaves, she feels as if a piece of her heart remains.

Westporters are curious to learn more about Cuba. They’re fascinated by what they hear: the 1950s cars, the art nouveau and art deco architecture, the beautiful beaches.

Cuban architecture …

They tell Maite they want to visit before things change. Yet, she says, they don’t know how to go there, or have concerns about political implications.

She has an easy answer. Her brother Sixto is the founder of Cuba Travel & Scouting; she’s the Northeast representative. Utilizing family connections, the company offers tours that don’t adhere to government-imposed choices of sites, hotels and restaurants. Each tour focuses on Cuba’s rich history, natural beaaty and architectural wonders.

Westporters who have traveled to Cuba appreciate the experience. Emily Blaikie calls it “one of the most magical places I have ever been. The people are lovely. So are the sights and sounds. And the food is delicious.”

“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” Maite Hernandez wants her neighbors and friends here to know that — despite all the bad news recently — a wonderful world awaits them, just a short plane ride away.

… and a classic car.

Westport’s Cubans React To Thaw

Yesterday’s announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro of a new relationship between their 2 nations surprised Americans and Cubans alike.

The news was particularly stunning for the small number of Westporters with Cuban heritage.

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux is a 1983 graduate of Staples High School. She grew up here, but her parents are Cuban. She says:

I think it’s time, but I have very mixed feelings. On the positive side, this gives hope that it will open dialogue to address issues in a diplomatic level.

On the negative, it will give the Castros a lifeline at a moment when they are desperate due to Venezuela’s crash due to decline in oil prices. There are also no concessions regarding the human rights of the Cuban people.

Tony Hernandez is 80 years old. He was born and raised in Cuba, but left in 1960. He says:

I feel that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba’s communist regime is a very positive step. It ends 53 years of isolation, and simultaneously eases all the vicissitudes and misery the Cuban people have been suffering.

His daughter, Maite Hernandez, says:

I  just read that 7 million tourists are expected to visit Cuba, as opposed to 2 million in the past year. On the one hand, the flow of visitors and the money they bring will definitely boost the economy of Cuba, at a time where they have run out of countries to support them. I just hope this will translate to a better economic level for the local Cubans.

It remains to be seen whether  human rights issues will be addressed. There can be no compromise regarding this matter. Otherwise this move by President Obama will be seen as political, with the only purpose of securing himself a place in the history books.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

Roy Marmelo’s Very Happy Birthday

Roy Marmelo turned 45 the other day. His wife, Maite Hernandez, threw him a surprise party at their Westport home.

Maite Hernandez and Roy Marmelo

Befitting their heritage — he’s Portuguese, she’s Cuban — it was an international affair.

The guests represented 15 nationalities: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, England, India, Israel, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, the US, Venezuela.

Especially Brazil.

Roy and a Brazilian dancer.

As one guest commented:

“We couldn’t all fly to Brazil. So Maite brought Brazil to Westport!”

Indeed.