Cuba Bio of Dave Thomas, 1990-2003

Ever since a good friend and I spent a week in December 1993 tooting about Havana's Eastern Beaches on rental mopeds, we both thought the idea of importing our own motorcycles and touring the island would be a dream come true.

This adventure is to feed my hobby and my hobbyhorse, both. After a lifetime of work I now have the leisure time to travel at "leisure". No more 2 or 4-week snips of adventure then back to work.

My hobby: I love motorcycles and love to travel by motorcycle. My hobbyhorse: Travel is more than adventure. It is about living and learning. Cuba: I have always had burning questions about countries of Cuba's political system. And Cuba particularly because it is so on our minds as the US giant roars its indignation at the frustration of sharing living space with the mouse (Cuba) it can not get rid of.

I have visited Cuba 16 times since my first visit in January 1990. I arrived here August 3rd, 1997 as part of a group of 30 Canadian Labor leaders and social activists from across Canada for the International Conference on Globalization and Privatization.

I set myself the ambitious task of living in Cuba for 1 year, with all its limitations, to understand the mood and spirit of the people. To accomplish this I lived as much as possible in people’s homes. I exported my BMW motorcycle to Cuba for that time period for transportation and touring purposes. Between Aug. 1997 to Aug. 1998 I traveled to all areas of Cuba logging 22,000 Km on my motorcycle. Then in September 2002 I returned to Cuba with my motorcycle and toured another 11,000 km. until April 2003.

 I am a 65-year-old retiree who took a golden handshake from my employer, INCO Ltd., Port Colborne, 8 years ago. I am a life member of the Welland County Motorcycle Club and a member of the Canadian Motorcycle Association. Motorcycles have been my lifelong hobby. I have toured Canada from coast to coast, the northern US and Europe...all by motorcycle.

I am past president of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Niagara. Member of Council of Canadians and the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

I wrote a series of articles on my adventures in Cuba for free distribution to all Niagara Regional newspapers. The series is called: "Cuba on 2 Wheels." My goal was to educate readers while I entertain them. And to provide a little adventure to those who are unable, for whatever reason, to travel as I have. I once was part of the read and dream gallery for many years.

During this and past visits to Cuba I have visited:

  • A session of the Cuban National Assembly of Peoples Power, 1994;
  • Observed the entire election process for municipal, provincial and national assemblies, 1997-1998 and 2002-2003;
  • Toured hospitals and schools;
  • Attended arts and cultural events;
  • Attended may Cuban trade union events;
  • Toured many workplaces as guest of the Cuban labour movement;
  • Attended the internment of, Argentine hero of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara's remains, Santa Clara;
  • Attended Havana "May Day" parade, 1998 and 2001. The latter had 1 million people in the parade;
  • Visited the "Bay of Pigs", talked to veterans;
  • Visited Moncada Barracks where Fidel fired the opening shot of the Revolutionary war;
  • Visited the plantation where Fidel was born;
  • Met and talked to a veteran of Fidel's Granma Expedition and entire Revolutionary war (Calixto Morales);
  • Visited Mirador Malones, a look-out above the US Guantanamo Navy Base;
  • Visited the new Medical School of the Americas in Miramar municipality, Havana.
  • Nov. 2002 attended 4 day Havana Free Trade of the America’s (FTAA) Conference in which Fidel Castro participated for 3 days.