Jessica first visited Cuba with her family at age eight. "I am Canadian, so that is permitted," she explains. " I remember how much the Cubans fussed over my sister and me, how warm and friendly they were—and how amazed I was at the Coppelia ice cream gardens in Havana."
She returned to Cuba to take up Latin American studies at the University of Havana for a semester, and says, “I fell in love with Cuba and returned many, many times over the next five years.” She completed an internship at the Metropolitan Park of Havana, led tours for groups of Canadian high school students, teachers, and union members, and spent a combined total of two years in Cuba’s capital.
Jessica has travelled extensively in Europe and Central and South America. However, Cuba holds a special place in her affections. "After my first four months in Cuba, I remember coming home and telling a friend, 'You must go there: it just grabs you.' Well, Cuba grabbed me, picked me up, twirled me around and refused to let me go! I love how open Cubans are. I love the music, the heat, the rhythms and the dance, the sights, sounds and colors—and for some reason, I have always felt strangely at home there in a way I have never felt anywhere else."
Jessica loves spicy noodles and once served popcorn to Bryan Adams in a movie theatre. She's happiest "dancing salsa—ideally somewhere hot, sunny and tropical—but also in my living room in rainy Vancouver with my kids."