By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

Genoa Barrow’s grandfather, Clyde R. Barrow II, right, served in the Navy and was stationed in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay in the 1950s. Genoa Barrow, OBSERVER

I got my passport in June 2022 and it had been burning a hole in my pocket ever since. When the opportunity to travel to Cuba came a few months later, I was excited for a number of reasons, particularly because I already had a family connection to the island.

This is the visitor’s pass granted to my grandmother’s mother (and my middle namesake) Marguerite Brown that allowed her to travel to Cuba and check on her family. Genoa Barrow, OBSERVER

I learned a few years ago, through records found on, that my family lived in Cuba decades ago and had ties to Guantanamo Bay specifically. My grandfather was in the Navy in the 1950s, so the information didn’t come as a complete surprise. It wasn’t something, however, that had been previously discussed.

It was cool to see the actual landmark depicted on the document. Genoa Barrow, OBSERVER

A few weeks before the opportunity to travel to Cuba arose, my uncle sent me some family photos from their time there. There is a lot about my family that I don’t know, some of which has been lost to time, but visiting Cuba felt like reclaiming a bit of it. The thought of walking in the same space and breathing the same air as they did all those years ago was intriguing and humbling.