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Cuban-American visited ancestors' home in Havana
Emotional trip to Havana
A Cuban-American young lady visited her ancestors' home in Cuba's capital. She decided to travel to Havana to go to her maternal roots and see the place where her mother lived on the occasion of the Pope's visit.
Cecilia Damau, a Cuban-American citizen, who decided to travel to Havana to follow the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, left Cuba in 1959 in the middle of a change of political system in the island.
For several months, Cecilia Damau's mother refused to talk about her daughter's decision to go to Cuba's capital for the papal visit, but four days before her departure she made a request to her: "I'd love to see photos of the house of my childhood."
Cecilia, a pediatric dietician, 29, is one of the more than 300 people, most of them Americans of Cuban origin, who planned to travel to Cuba in a pilgrimage headed by the catholic bishop of Miami.
Like the rest of her travelling companions, Damau arrived in the island seeking to find a spiritual experience, but she also had a personal goal: finding the place where her maternal ancestors used to live and a link with the family's roots.
The emotional tour of Damau was similar to those lived by other Cuban-Americans for decades, especially since president Barack Obama relaxed restrictions on Cuba travel, a measure taken last year, limiting the number of visits that people with relatives in the island can make.
In January 2011, the current U.S. administration authorised the People-to-People exchange programme that allows more Americans to take cultural or scientific holidays in Cuba and lifted some restrictions on travel to the country for religious and academic groups.
Damau wished to travel to Havana accompanied by her father. They both had a wonderful experience after visiting the district of Miramar, located North West Havana, where her maternal roots started.
Around 100 million religious visitors travel to major religious events around the world in different countries. This type of tourism has become a very interesting and attractive market, since pilgrims visit holy places, masses and events to worship their religion through a real experience.
The Cuban government is currently looking at ways to prepare holiday packages for Cuban residents living in the United States and in other countries. The immigrants' market is so important for the tourism sector in the country, since this undoubtedly is a major source of income for the Caribbean nation.