Julie Born, left, and Karen Geisler pose with some of the many souvenirs they brought home with them from Cuba, including postcards, money, cigars, rum and handmade items.
Julie Born, left, and Karen Geisler pose with some of the many souvenirs they brought home with them from Cuba, including postcards, money, cigars, rum and handmade items.

“Be prepared to step back into the 1950s.”

That what’s Julie Born says an orientation guide told her before she left for Cuba last month.

“We saw some of the old cars right away even at the airport,” she said. “And they had passed down from grandfather to father to son. So they really are 50 to 60 years old ... We were all looking for the model of the year we were born.”

A retired social studies teacher in the Rosendale-Brandon district, Born went to Cuba with friends Karen Geisler, Green Lake teacher Mary Hunter and Geisler’s sister, Kathy Lannoye, bringing a bit of Wisconsin to the Caribbean.

Geisler, a Ripon resident, agreed that the trip sometimes felt like a time warp.

“In the country, we saw very few cars,” she said. “Almost all horses and carts, and a lot of people on bicycles” ...

The visit — from Jan. 10 to 18 — was arranged through a Road Scholar program tour, which had a heavy emphasis on arts and music, they said.

“My feeling is sort of that Cuba has been suppressed for so long that without some of the other outside influences they’ve really focused on their arts and music, and they have some of the most beautiful singing voices we’ve ever heard,” Born said.

Educational opportunity, rather than simply tourism, was a driving factor in their decision to see the island nation.

“If you want to go to beautiful beaches and sit around and be waited on and jump in a pool, there’s lots of islands in the Caribbean to do that,” Geisler said. “But I wanted to go because it was an educational tour, and I was not disappointed.”

Read more about Born and Geisler's trip in the Feb. 9, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.