Editors' pick: Originally published Dec. 5.
For two hours, Tamar Lowell stood amid the crowd of thousands gathered at Revolution Square in Havana, listening to world leaders eulogize Fidel Castro.
Dignitaries from Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Zimbabwe and more were in attendance to offer their condolences and express their thoughts about the passing of a man they described as the hero for the downtrodden.
Then, after all that time, the Cuban woman who had been standing silently beside Lowell turned and in broken English, politely ventured to ask a question.
Which U.S. presidential candidate had Lowell voted for, the woman wanted to know. Had she voted for Donald Trump? The woman wore a worried expression on her face.
"It seemed like more than curiosity, but rather a desire to better understand what's going on in the U.S.," says Lowell, owner of Access Trips, which offers culinary tours in Cuba. "I asked her what she thought about Trump and she said she was scared - that she didn't know what his election meant for Cuba."
The scene perfectly illustrates the crossroads at which Cuba and the United States now stand thanks to the death of Fidel Castro and the election in the United States of Donald Trump.
Lowell spoke with a variety of Cubans during her recent visit to the island and many were well aware of President-elect Trump's fiery rhetoric, which has included threats of potentially rolling back the detente achieved with the island nation under President Obama.
"They're aware of President-elect Trump's threat to terminate 'the deal' with Cuba," Lowell said. "They are worried primarily about the economic implications, as many people, in Havana especially, have seen personal benefit from the relaxed restrictions."