Cuba, Day 1: From frost to incredible warmth

May 14, 2015
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The day began with frost warnings up in the Arrowhead and the car heater on high for the drive to MSP. And it wrapped with the lovely humidity of what feels like a mid-July evening in Minnesota, set to the soft crash of Caribbean waves.

We’d been a little worried about receiving a less-than-welcoming welcome at the Havana airport, based on our tense relations with Cuba. But there was only the usual visa- and form-checking as in any international airport, no scowling guards, no guns—and then we were through doors and onto the sunny, palm-tree-lined Havana streets.

After only a day here, I realize I have too many headlines of tense US/Cuban relations archived in my head; of Castro throwing barbs at American presidents, and American presidents throwing them right back. What gets lost in all that political bristle are the beautiful individual faces I saw today. So many smiles at the visiting Americans, so many wishes of welcome to us, everyone hoping that this trip—the first of an American orchestra here in years and years—represents one small start for something miraculous to happen between our two countries.

Photos by Nate Ryan

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Old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan
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The Hotel Nacional, Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

More photos from Day 1 in Cuba