Day 1 :
Welcome to Cuba!
- Depart the United States for Cuba:
- Visit Ernest Hemingway's Home:
On our way to Santa Clara, we will visit Ernest Hemingway's Home, restored to just the wayhe left it. Locals respected Hemingway for his desire to live modestly amongst the peoplewith whom he enjoyed fishing. While here, Hemingway wrote two of his most famous works,For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.
- Santa Clara:
Santa Clara was the site of the last battle of the Cuban revolution in December 1958, theturning point which forced Batista to flee the country.
- Visit Che Guevara's Monument:
Orientated 190 degrees, Che's figure points directlytowards South America - reflecting his focus and outlook. There are many different aspectsof Che's life represented throughout the complex. For example, his time in Guatemala and atthe United Nations is sculpted. His farewell letter to Fidel is inscribed in full. It has more than2,000 characters chiseled into a six-meter column.
- Dinner in a Local Restaurant:
Day 2 :
Hanabanilla - Trinidad - Cienfuegos
- Valle de los Ingenios:
Drive to the Valle de los Ingenios to see the remains of sugar plantations and the spectacularlandscape of Cuba.
- Climb the Iznaga Tower:
Ascend the Iznaga Tower which was constructed in 1816 by the owner, Alejo Maria Iznaga yBorrell. A bell from this tower was used to announce the beginning and end of the work day forslaves in the surrounding sugar plantations. The height and magnificence of the tower servedto display Iznaga's power over his slaves and his stature in the sugar industry and localsociety; at one time it was the tallest structure in Cuba.
Trinidad is one of the best-preserved and enchanting colonial towns in Latin America. Theentire city is a national monument, and it is delightful to wander through the narrow cobbledstreets. One can imagine a time when this city was the capital of sugar production and one ofthe richest cities in the New World. Nowadays it is a quiet backwater, as if stuck in a timewarp with beautiful colonial buildings and horse drawn transportation.
- Walking Tour of Trinidad:
Enjoy a walking tour through the World Heritage city of Trinidad; beginning at the PlazaMayor which is in the center of town and elegantly adorned with glazed earthenware urns.Around the plaza are the Museo Romntico, the Museo Arqueolog a and the cathedral,Iglesia Parroquial de la Santsima Trinidad which was built between 1817 and 1892.
- Explore the Cathedral:
Visit the largest church in Cuba, and is renowned for its acoustics.On the left at the front of the church is a crucifix of the brown-skinned Christ of Veracruz whois the patron of Trinidad. The altars are made of precious woods such as cedar, acacia,caoba and grenadine.
- Discover the Palacio Cantero:
Explore the Palacio Cantero which is housed in a mansion that belonged to the Borrell familyfrom 1827 to 1830. Later the building passed to a German planter named Kanter or Cantero,and it is still called Casa Cantero. Dr. Justo Cantero acquired vast sugar estates and hiswealth is well displayed in the stylish neoclassical decoration of the rooms. The view ofTrinidad from the top of the tower is wonderful and not to be missed.
- Visit the Home of Julio Muoz:
One of Trinidad's most dynamic and charismatic personalities,Muoz comes from a line of prominent Spanish immigrants and the house has been in hisfamily for generations, though they lost their other properties and businesses after therevolution. Today, Julio, is a renowned photographer and a proud Workers Unionrepresentative. However, he has more recently become known for his skills as a "horsewhisperer" - a skill he discovered by chance when he began working with horses on aphotography assignment. He believes passionately that his skills stem from his belief in usingthe horses' psychology and observing how horses communicate with each other and theirnatural world. He also runs the Diana Project, which promotes better equine care andeducates local farmers and cowboys in humane horse-training techniques. Enjoy a chance tochat with him and learn more about his life, his role as one of Trinidad's most prominententrepreneurs.
- Rural Medical Clinic Visit:
We will stop at a rural medical clinic near Cienfuegos to learn more about the health-caresystem in Cuba.
- Dinner in a Local Restaurant:
Day 3 :
- Harvard University Botanical Gardens:
Visit one of the best collections ofpalms in the world, and talk with botanists about Cuba's flora.
Cienfuegos is a city with plenty of Cuban charm and character that was nominated as aWorld Heritage site a few years ago. In the center of the city is Parque Jos Mart , whereyou will find locals relaxing and chatting under the shade of a tree.
- Parque Mart:
Explore the area around the Parque Mart, the central square. Admire the lavish Catheral andthe town theater that was built with materials and craftspeople sent from Europe.
- Taller Grfico of Cienfuegos:
Visit the Taller Grfico of Cienfuegos, a cooperative of young Cuban artists who can be foundworking on their lithographs over stone matrices in the large, airy building. The variety ofcolors, sizes, and content of the prints are wide and include pieces with recognizable Cubanicons, bold black and white woodcuts. The artists here work with a local group of DownSyndrome children and we we assist with the students during our visit.
- Museo Histrico Provincial:
This evening we head to the Museo Histrico Provincial to attend a performance of Cantoresde Cienfuegos, a versatile, 23-member choral group under the direction of Honey MoreiraAbreu. Abreu became their conductor originally as part of Cuba's required community service,and loved it so much that she stayed on. The choir has an eclectic repertoire, singingeverything from Renaissance to Japanese fisherman's folk music.
Day 4 :
Cienfuegos - Bay of Pigs - Havana
Stop close to Bermejas for a chance to the world's smallest hummingbird who is generallyfound in this area in the morning. This area is close to the Zapata Peninsula BiosphereReserve, a remote, sparsely populated area of Cuba with a varied landscape. It is one of thelargest and most important wetlands in the Caribbean region with a marine southernborderline.
- Museo Playa Girn (Bay of Pigs Museum):
Stop at the Museo Playa Girn (Bay of Pigs Museum) which is dedicated to the Bay of Pigsinvasion. In April 1961, during the Cold War, approximately 1,400 Cuban exiles invaded theBay of Pigs - Playa Girn - with the aim of overthrowing Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Thisattack failed in its entirety, with most of the force being taken prisoner and around onehundred being killed. Today, Museo Playa Girn is a small museum near the exiles' landingsite and battle sites. It houses a collection of photographs and other historic pieces relating tothe invasion. On staff at the museum are people who were involved in the Bay of Pigsinvasion and who can talk about what that experience was like.
- Central Australia:
Stop by Central Australia which was once one of the biggest sugar mills in the country. Fiftyyears ago this sugar mill was also Fidel Castro's headquarters during the Bay of Pigsinvasion. Now closed it still remains an impressive site and there will be an opportunity to takesome amazing photographs.
Havana is the capital city, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city is thelargest city in Cuba and the second largest in the Caribbean region. Sitting pretty as one ofthe Caribbean's largest and most vivacious cities, its romantic atmosphere and infectiousenergy are the stuff of legend. From palaces and museums to music and dance, there issomething new to discover around every corner.
- La Maestra Documentary Discussion:
Before dinner meet with Norma Guillard who is featured in the documentary film La Maestra.Enjoy a screening of the film (running time 33 minutes) which tells the personal stories of theyoungest women literacy workers who went to the mountains and valleys across the island toteach, and found themselves deeply transformed in the process.
- Hotel Nacional de Cuba:
Tonight, dinner will be at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba; an historic luxury hotel located on theMalecn in Havana, Cuba. It was designed by the famous New York firm McKim, Mead andWhite, and features an eclectic mix of architectural styles. After admiring the hotels Hall ofFame view the largest cannon ever built in colonial Cuba and the underground shelter built atthe Hotel during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We will enjoy a traditional dinner in the grounds ofthe hotel.
- Visit the Maine Memorial:
This monument to the victims of the USS Maine was built in 1926in honor of the American sailors that died in the explosion of the USS Maine in 1898, whichserved as the pretext for the United States to declare war on Spain thus starting the Spanish-American War. Havana's monument to the 266 U.S. sailors who died that night wasdedicated 27 years later as a tribute to lasting Cuban-American friendship, a thank-you forWashington's help in shedding the yoke of Spanish colonial rule.
Day 5 :
- Havana Colonial Architecture:
Of all the capital cities in the Caribbean, Havana has the reputation of being the mostsplendid, with the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture in the Americas.Accompanied by our local guide, we will walk to the center of Old Havana to view a scalemodel of the area which serves as an excellent introduction to the layout of the city. Close byis the Plaza de Armas which was built in 1584 for military exercises. Used books are soldhere most mornings; many of which are post-revolution revisions to Cuban history. Here wewill find Havana's town hall, now the city museum. Of special note is the Cathedral of SaintChristopher located on the cobbled Plaza de la Catedral, described by one Cuban writer as'music set in stone'. The square is surrounded by some of Havana's oldest buildings, manyformer homes of Cuba's wealthiest families. We will conclude at the Plaza Vieja, a stunninglybeautiful old square which has undergone careful restoration.
- Cuban Musical Workshop:
Enjoy an interactive musical workshop and learn more about the Cuban musical tradition.Afro-Cuban music has its roots deep in history and was never written about but rather livedthrough traditions in religion, story, music, song, dance, family knowledge and dates back tothe slave ships and before. There are many different kinds of salsa music and dance in Cubabut most of these styles are derived from 'Son' which will be our focus this morning. Sondeveloped in eastern rural areas of Cuba around the turn of the twentieth century, but tracesof it date back to the 1700s. Son is a distinctly Afro-Cuban musical style because it uses anAfrican rhythm, Spanish poetic styles in the lyrics, and the use of plucked instruments. Son isvery much part of much Cuban music.
- Callejn de Hamel:
Walk along the site of a huge multi-dimensional Afro-Cuban mural. Herethere will be a chance to learn more about the Santera religion when we meet with aSanter a practioner, Elias Aseff. Probably the most explicit reference to the African soul inCuba is to be found in Santer a, which represents the synthesis of the cults of African slavesand the Catholic religion. Santeria conceals great complexity in both active and passivepractice. It represents for its believers a guide and a support to their lives, whose benefitsare to be found in earthly life. A limpieza (cleansing) is a way to get rid of negative influencesand self-purify. An ebb (offer) to an Oricha (the deity), whether a fruits basket or a ritualsacrifice, is important to maintain closeness to the deity and receive help against theadversity. Consulting a santero or a santera is a frequent practice, being primarily a moralsupport to the daily difficulties. We will enter a Santer a home and learn more about thisreligion.
- Dinner in a Local Restaurant:
Day 6 :
- Viales Valley:
The Viales Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful region, famous for its tobacco plantations andsheer sided mogotes, which are limestone hills rising from a tropical plain rich with hibiscus,bougainvillea and flame trees, tobacco plantations and rice paddy fields.
- Orchid Farm at Soroa:
Visit the Orchid Farm at Soroa, which is maintained by the University of Pinar del Ro. Thehilly grounds contain over 800 species of plants, including 200 endemic to Cuba, all thriving inthe humid climate.
- Viales National Park:
Stop at the excellent visitor's center where we will pick up a special guide and get anoverview of the Viales National Park. Admire Cuba's most famous landscape and learn moreabout the famous mogotes located in the province of Pinar del Ro. These 250-million year oldloaf shaped limestone mounds are usually full of caves. They form the Cordillera deGuaniguanico, a low range of hills which extend about 40 miles northeast from Mantua andcomprise the Sierra de los rganos and the Sierra del Rosario range. This area was the lastrefuge of the Ciboney, the hunter-gatherers who were pushed here by the more advancedTaino.
- Tobacco Farm Visit:
A visit to a tobacco farm provides an opportunity to learn more about the growing of tobaccoand the economics of the tobacco industry in Cuba.
- Finca Ecologa:
Enjoy lunch at Finca Ecologa, a private farm with beautiful views overlooking the valley. It ispossible from here to appreciate the valley's distinctive landscape, with its steep-sidedlimestone mountains rising dramatically from fertile flat-floored valleys where farmers cultivatethe red soil for tobacco, fruits and vegetables.
Spend some time exploring the town of Vinales. The scenes here are timeless and depictrural Cuba; thatched homesteads, and farmers, known as guajiros riding on oxen-driven cartswith their faithful dogs trotting at their heels.
- Dinner at a Local Restaurant:
Day 7 :
- Round-Table Discussion on US-Cuban Relations:
Enjoy a round-table discussion on US-Cuban Relations to be given by Professor RalRodrquez from the University of Havana. Dr. Rodrquez has written extensively on US-CubanRelations including an article for the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American StudiesWorking Papers Series 1-10, Harvard University 2010 entitled Canada, the United States andCuba: Triangular Relations as seen in Cuban Diplomatic History 1959-1962.
- Presidential Palace:
Visit the Presidential Palace, an ornate building topped by a dome. The history of Cubanpolitical development, from slave uprisings to joint missions with the ex-Soviet Union, isillustrated inside.
- Granma Memorial:
Walk to the Granma Memorial, located just behind the Museum of the Revolution. Thememorial preserves the vessel that brought Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and otherrevolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba in 1956.
- Jaimanitas Service Project:
Spend time at Jaimanitas and meet community residents at the studio of artist Jos Fuster.Fuster's artwork ranges from ceramics evoking the nation's African roots, to whimsicalpaintings drawn from ordinary life in Cuba. Fuster has turned his neighborhood into oneenormous piece of mosaic art. We will team up with residents of the community to worktogether on the neighborhood project.
Day 8 :
- Return to the United States: