COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Moises Per Domo came to the United States in the 1990s. The trip nearly killed him.
He filled up an automotive inner tube in Cuba and waded out on a beach in the middle of the night for a 90-mile float to freedom.
“Yeah, I’m a close to die, I tear all my skin from the sun, it’s like a desert you know,” said Per Domo through his thick Cuban Accent while taking a break from work at Plantain’s Café on East Gay Street in Columbus.
He was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard 65 miles from Cuba three days later, floating among sharks with no water or food.
He next spent a year and a half at Guantanamo Bay.
His journey took years of work. Today, he and his wife Clara own their own restaurant in Columbus.
“You can come to Plantain Café and have a real Cuban meal cooked by a real Cuban,” she laughed. She is also from Cuba. “We would like to everybody to have the chances that we have here. You can buy house, you work hard, and you buy a car you work hard. You have your family with you over there you can’t.”
And on this day, when the American flag was raised in his home country, for the first time in his life, it was special.
“I’m happy for the U.S.,” he said. “USA going inside the Cuba you know what I’m saying the relations, I’m very happy.”
But it ends there. He says there is still no democracy, no real elections, and nothing has really changed in Cuba. Anyone planning to travel there needs to know that a trip to Cuba won’t be like a trip to anywhere else.
Tonight, at Travel Leaders Elite Travel, they have the rules for anyone wanting to make the trip to Cuba, with whom the U.S. is trying to normalize relations. It would be anything but a normal vacation.
“If you want to go you cannot take your cell phone,” said Lisa Janzen. “You cannot take American money, you cannot take credit cards. What they’re going to do is have you exchange your money for their Cuban dollars. And then you’re going to have to pretty much do everything they say to do when they say to do it.”