Reason #673 to Drop the Embargo: 61-Year-Old Woman Already Swimming From Cuba to Keys
You know it's time to rethink US-Cuba relations when 61-year-olds start swimming between the two countries.
Granted, Diana Nyad is no abuelita doggy paddling for a taste of American freedom. As today's New York Times explains, she's an American endurance athlete who, much like local paddleboarder Cynthia Aguilar, sees the Straits of Florida as a bridge to the record books instead of a gulf between disgruntled neighbors.
But seriously people. If American athletes, missionaries -- hell, even our chefs -- are able to use Cuba to their own ends, why not just drop the travel restrictions all together?
Politics aside, Nyad's journey is pretty damn impressive. If she makes it, that is.
As the Times puts it:
She will swim about 60 hours in the churning sea, 103 miles across the Straits of Florida from Cuba to Key West. Every hour and a half, she will stop to tread water for a few minutes as she swallows a liquid mixture of predigested protein and eats an occasional bit of banana or dollop of peanut butter. She will most likely hallucinate and endure the stings of countless jellyfish. Along the way, sea salt will swell her tongue to cartoonish proportions and rub her skin raw.
The trip is reminiscent of Aguilar's successful expedition earlier this year, in which she paddleboarded from Cuban waters to Key West in 29 hours, but even harder still. Aguilar was thwarted in her first attempt by stinging men-of-war jellyfish and powerful ocean currents. Both of those could be an issue for Nyad, not to mention the sharks that infest the Straits.
Two kayakers will follow her, holding a "shark shield" that emits electrical waves to zap the ancient ocean predators.
Of course, sharks aren't the only thing keeping most Americans from visiting Cuba, or vice-versa. The United States' 51-year-old embargo is the true obstacle.
The Obama administration lifted travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans in 2009, and recently began issuing people-to-people licenses for the first time since 2003.
Who knows? Maybe even non-Cuban, non-endurance-athletes will soon be able to visit the island from Miami.