Why Cuba? Well, why not?
Am I suggesting that this decision is entirely arbitrary? No, of course not. I've mulled over destinations for a while. I'd like to explore a new continent - I love the Far East, but feel I'm ready to tread on different soil. Africa? I almost booked a flight to Madagascar, and then discovered that there are cyclones there in the winter (I've done cyclones; fun to write about ... not much fun at the time) and elections this September. I need to do more research before trying most African countries on my own - I know tour groups run successful trips in the National Parks, but I can't get a feel for what it would be like for a western woman wandering about on her own.
South America? I've been to Venezuela, and wonderful it was too. But I've no Spanish and it would have been impossible had I been alone and unable to say more than 'please' and 'thank you'. And it's not so safe at the moment.
Which leads me into the whole safety-thing. I know some of you think me utterly reckless, but I try to take my safety seriously. Which, these days, excludes more and more countries that women once visited without concern. I know we only have television and newspaper reports to go on, and I'm sure that there are peaceful corners of Iraq and Syria, but I'm not convinced I could wander from a hotel with nothing but optimism and a headscarf to keep me safe. Yemen? Saudi? Qatar? How easy is it for women to visit these countries when those who live there are not allowed to drive? I long to visit some of the cities on the Silk Road - has anyone been to Uzbekistan, and can let me know how life is like for single women there?
It hasn't always been like this. The Hippy Trail of the late 1960s saw scores of young people driving through the Middle East, camping on the Khyber Pass, exploring the markets of Kabul.
It saddens me, this narrowing of our world, these divisions into safe and unsafe places. I grieve when the things that divide us - the colour of our skins or the gods we worship - take precedence over all we have in common - the need for food and shelter, to love and be loved, and to tell our stories.
I shall have a wonderful time in Cuba - I've no doubt of that. I am already practising a salsa. And one day I want to go to Samarkand, on my own, to smell the incense in her markets and feel the slither of her silks, like women and men have done since the dawn of trade.