Washington column for Dec. 27

A return home to Havana

Candy Wroth, who works at the county administrator’s office, recently returned home to Cuba to celebrate her birthday. Candy, who lives in Washington with her son, James Henze, sent in this report from her travels abroad.

I came to be born in Havana, Cuba, when my father presided over Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Vedado, Havana from 1953 to 1960. We lived in the rectory (my father, mother and four older siblings) on the church grounds. Yes, we were there during the Revolution! We would travel back and forth to the U.S., visiting family in the Washington, D.C. area often, and my grandmother would take trips to visit us in Havana. Not one of my family members have returned since leaving in July 1960 – until now!

Wroth outside of her former home in Havana. Photos courtesy of Candy Wroth.
Wroth outside of her former home in Havana. Photos courtesy of Candy Wroth.

Cuba has opened up tourism to the rest of the world, but Americans can only visit on educational exchanges that take place under the auspices of an organization that promotes people-to-people contact; that’s how I was able to return. I found a Road Scholar tour (roadscholar.org) titled “The Cuban Art Revolution: Meeting the Artists and People of Cuba – an intimate and insightful look at the arts, music and dance of Cuba.” The tour would not only put me in Havana for my birthday on Nov. 9, but music, art and dance are the passions of my life. I left for Havana on Nov. 8, spending five nights there and staying at the “famous” Hotel Nacional. Two additional nights were spent in Varadero, a beach close to where I went as a child.

The Paseo de Marti was one of Havana’s many “sights to behold” on Candy Wroth’s trip to the place where she was born.
The Paseo de Marti was one of Havana’s many “sights to behold” on Candy Wroth’s trip to the place where she was born.

The Cubans I met are all so very talented in their respective fields: I saw wonderful works of art, was entertained by lively Cuban music, and the dancers were all in fine form. Havana is such a culturally rich city. The Spanish architecture, plazas and cobblestone streets are sights to behold. The 1950s American cars were everywhere, many used as taxis. I was able to briefly see my father’s former church, which is still active, and our former home. It was overwhelmingly emotional. I was there for my father, mother and now five siblings. My dream to return was finally realized after 52 years!

When we returned from Havana, my father became the rector of St. Paul’s Rock Creek Parish in the District of Columbia, where he presided until he retired in 1985. I moved to Rappahannock County in 1983, after growing up in Chevy Chase, Md.

Rappahannock County has been my home for 30 years come January, but Havana will always be my home in my heart.

Many thanks

This writer would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this column over the past year. Continue to call or email me with your news at 540-675-3338 or jan@rappnews.com.

Happy new year

Well, it’s the end of the year again, and I can’t believe how quickly it’s flown by. Jan. 1 starts a year of new beginnings, new hopes and new adventures. With each new day of the coming month, we have tasks on a list we’re keeping for the coming year. As we head into 2013, keep in mind that we may not be able to solve all the problems in the world, but we can make a difference in each life that we touch.

All the best for everyone in the new year!

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