With yesterdayâ€™s passing of Fidel Castro, I have to share my personal (and surreal) Castro story. In 1994, I spent 10 days in Cuba on a journalistic visa with my then-girlfriend, attending an International Film Festival. Unforgettable trip, and great films. On the last day, Fidel threw a party in his palace to entertain the international visitors (PR move?). I remember the palace being spacious and well-appointed, but not gaudyâ€Šâ€”â€Šgreen slate tiles on both the floor and the walls, brass sconces. Palace bartenders kept the mojitos flowing, and Castro himself was mingling with the guests. We joined a circle of people listening to him passionately answer questions about how hemp farming could benefit Cuban workers and the economy.
Then, suddenly, my friend leaned in and pointed coyly toward a wiry-haired old man with big bushy eyebrows standing near Castro and said â€œDo you recognize him? Itâ€™s Grandpa Munster!â€ Sure enough, it was Al Lewis himself, (much older than he had been on the TV show of course). And then the weirdness of the moment dawned on me: Iâ€™m standing in Castroâ€™s palace, drinking mojitos with Grandpa Munster and Fidel Castro, talking about marijuana legalization at a time when our own country wouldnâ€™t even contemplate it. Unforgettable.