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The way we left Cuba

The plane began its descent over the last 90 haunting miles of sea that divides Cuba from the United States, a sea that might be the largest graveyard in the world. Out my window the sunset glazed over the surface of the ocean and glinted off the slits and nicks of wave-creases like fresh wounds. Up and down the plane I heard the slap of blinders yanked down over the windows while the rest of us eagerly took in the view. It’s this last homestretch that always fleshes out the tourists from the locals on flights to the island.

There are plenty of tragic and inspiring choices, but the most obvious legacy Castro will leave behind is the broken family.

As the plane touched down at Jose Marti Airport I still wasn’t sure I would be allowed to enter Cuba in the first place. I had spent my last trip a few months earlier conducting illegal interviews with the country’s most famous boxing champions, men who had turned down millions and were only willing to discuss it if I paid them under the table. Of course there was no official way to have these interviews given the sensitivity of the topic. The state security had started following me after the first interview. All the Cubans I was working with couldn’t understand why we weren’t being arrested. But we kept going until we landed every interview on my wish list. Then it was just a matter of getting that material out.

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