On Monday, September 14th, during its regular meeting at The Beekman Arms, the Rhinebeck Rotary featured a presentation by longtime Rotarian Ed Tobin on his two-week trip to Cuba with Global Volunteers, where he taught English to teens and adults. Mr. Tobin had visited the country in the 1950s and said that this visit “did not disappoint. Cuba is a wonderful place with wonderful people.” He showed slides of his visit and offered entertaining, humorous, and informative commentary.
Mr. Tobin began his talk by explaining the unusual practice of paying an exit tax before entering the country because currency had to be converted to the local currency which is not available anywhere else. Foreigners pay 100 times more than locals for a cab ride than Cubans, who use Cuban Pesos. That said, life in Cuba is inexpensive. Hotels, rum, and cigars cost far less than in the States.
Mr. Tobin showed slides of the varied forms of transportation used: vintage American cars, of which there are very few, horses and horse-drawn carriages, homemade buses, pedi-cabs, bicycles, and a train that runs on one track. “It’s 1910 travel,” Mr. Tobin commented and went on to describe the business scene. Cubans may choose a business only from a government-approved list. Many choose one with “benefits.” Tobin gave the example of a cigar factory worker paid $18 a month to make 250 cigars a day. Cigars over the quota can be sold by the worker.
The Rhinebeck Rotary Club meets on Mondays at 12:15 pm at the Beekman Arms throughout the year. The Rotary is a humanitarian organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of others through local, national, and international service projects. The weekly meetings feature speakers covering a variety of human-interest topics. Interested guests are welcome to attend. Upcoming speakers include:
- September 28th – Mary Kay Vrba, Executive Director, Dutchess County Tourism, who will speak about her work
- October 5th – Schools To End Poverty (STEP) representatives, Howard Goldin and Ed Frank.
For more information on becoming a member, attending as a guest to hear a particular speaker, or to reserve a speaker’s spot at an upcoming meeting, please call Lou Trapani at 845-876-3088, ext. 14.