In 1895, Churchill travelled to Cuba to observe the Spanish fight the Cuban guerrillas; he had obtained a commission to write about the conflict from the Daily Graphic. To his delight, he came under fire for the first time on his twenty-first birthday. He had fond memories of Cuba as a "...large, rich, beautiful island..." While there, he soon acquired a taste for Havana cigars, which he would smoke for the rest of his life. While in New York, he stayed at the home of Bourke Cockran, an admirer of his mother. Bourke was an established American politician, and a member of the House of Representatives. He greatly influenced Churchill, both in his approach to oratory and politics, and encouraging a love of America.
He soon received word that his nanny, Mrs Everest, was dying; he then returned to England and stayed with her for a week until she died. He wrote in his journal "She was my favourite friend." In My Early Life he wrote: "She had been my dearest and most intimate friend during the whole of the twenty years I had lived."