Friday, March 9, 2012

Common Ground Offers New Trips

New Programs to Cuba for 2012
Upcoming Trips
Life in Revolutionary Cuba - April 28
African Roots of Cuba - June 1
Cuba Today - April 21, May 26, June 26
Cuba Por Dentro, Programa por Latinos de los Estados Unidos - 7 Abril, 2 Junio
Cuba, History, Land & People - June 16, September 15
Spiritual Life of Cuba - July 7, September 15
Architectural Heritage - June 9, October 6
Cost of trips
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Common Ground & the Center for Cuban Studies Team up to Offer New Trips
These days there are many trips to Cuba being offered under the renewed People to People travel category of U.S. permission.  We have seen that many are offered with rubber stamp programs at stratospheric prices.  At around $2800, Common Ground's programs may still be expensive for a number of people, but with Common Ground programs you get:
  • The same hotels and services as with the high priced programs
  • Programs developed with care, love and knowledge by people who know Cuba inside out
  • Connection with premier U.S. organizations such as the Center for Cuban Studies
  • The quality and attention for which Common Ground is known -- both in organizing your trip and during your time in Cuba
  • Direct attention in Cuba from experienced guides, group leaders, and CG's Cuban collaborators and friends
See the list of upcoming trips by title and by date at left, or scroll down.  See special enrollment discounts at the bottom.
Life in Revolutionary Cuba - April 28 to May 5
What is life like for the ordinary Cuban in 2012?  What is the history that has created modern Cuban society?  What does Cuba look like and feel like?  This trip is the opportunity to find out by experiencing Cuba for yourself.  Beginning with a welcome dinner at an Old Havana microbrewery and outdoor tavern, the group will immerse itself in Cuba for 8 days and 7 nights.  The trip will include the opportunity to walk Old Havana and learn about its history, to explore the modern Havana districts of Vedado and Miramar, and to visit neighborhood institutions such as the Callejón de Hamel and the Casa del niño y la niña in Cayo Hueso, a neighborhood founded by cigarmakers who settled there from Key West and Tampa en the early 20th Century.  There will be visits to museums and a cigar factory, and the group will visit a hospital, a neighborhood clinic, a Family Doctor home or a center for the elderly.  The group will spend an evening with a neighborhood Committee for Defense of the Revolution and Women's Federation Committee, and also will have the opportunity to visit with Cuban artists in their studios.  At night, the group is invited to attend Havana's jazz clubs, experience the famed Tropicana nightclub, and attend the ever changing schedule of baseball games and cultural events.   Cost includes membership in the Center for Cuban Studies and Art Cuba:  The New Generation or The Cuba Reader, an anthology of writings on Cuba and the Cuban Revolution. 
African Roots of Cuba - June 1 to 9
A program led by Pedro Pérez Sarduy, Cuban writer, poet and lecturer on Afro-Cuban culture. 

Up until the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the Cuban elite ensured that European culture predominated, pushing African culture and even its history into the dark corners.  But as Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén once said, "Show me a Cuban who says he is white, and I'll ask him to bring his Grandmother out from the kitchen."  These days, Cubans are proud of their mixed heritage and it is shown in their literature, music, dance, film and the resurgence of interest in Afro-syncretic religion.  This program explores the history of African presence in Cuba, through visits to Matanzas and the Museum to Slavery, exploration of African presence in Cuba's art in the Cuba collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, visits to sites of Afro-Cuban art and pride such as the Callejón de Hamel, and meetings with Afro-Cuban artists, filmmakers and writers.  The group will also visit the Yoruba Association and Casa Africa, meeting with staff and specialists.  As well the group will visit the Church of the Black Virgin in Regla and the Community of Atarés, two of the important centers of Afro Cuban community and spirituality in Havana.  Cost includes membership in the Center for Cuban Studies and a copy of Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture.
Go back to list of trips 
Cuba Today - April 21 to 28, May 26 to June 2, June 26 to July 4
Through this program, visitors will. learn and experience how Cubans themselves see the Cuban reality today.  The group will walk the streets of Old Havana with a specialist on the life and architecture of the oldest part of this historic city and then view the room-size model of the City of Havana in Miramar to learn about the history of the city, urban planning and the challenges planners confront in their work to improve and develop the city within enormous financial limitations.  The group will visit an open-air farmers' market, talking to both sellers and shoppers about both the impact that food shortages and the new opportunities for self employment that are part of ongoing economic reforms.  A day trip to nearby Pinar del Rio will include the Center for Cuban Studies humanitarian project with Downs Syndrome children in the printmaking workshop run by local artist Jesús Carrete, a visit to Las Terrazas, a contained community within a UNESCO-designated biosphere known for its environmental work and a visit to a state-owned tobacco farm where farmers will talk about production in this type of state-controlled system.  Back in town, the group will also have a chance to visit a community run organic farm at the Alamar housing project, with lunch at the farm's community restaurant.  The trip will also include visits to the Museum of the Revolucion, the Literacy Museum and to several local art galleries, with the chance to meet and talk with artists, directors and curators. Another day trip will be to Matanzas, to Ediciones Vigía a privately run publishing house that produces handmade books of high artistic quality and also employs a number of local women.  While in Matanzas the group will pass through Varadero to learn about the tourism industry and meet workers and waiters and hear their perspective.  Finally, the group will also visit the Martin Luther King Center, an independently run community organizing and educational project linked to the Cuban Baptist church.   Cost includes membership in the Center for Cuban Studies and The Cuba Reader, an  anthology of writings on Cuba and the Cuban Revolution. 
uba por Dentro:  Un programa especialmente para Latinos -   7 a 14 abril y 2 a 9 junio
En 8 dias y 7 noches, los participantes en este programa tendrán la oportunidad de sumergirse en la historia,  la vida diaria y la cultura actual de Cuba y los cubanos.  Aunque no estará excluida ninguna persona, el programa funcionara solamente en español y el propósito es introducir latinos de los Estados Unidos a sus hermanos y hermanas - y primos y primas  en Cuba.  El programa incluirá recorridos or La Habana Vieja y La Habana Moderna, visita a la Universidad de la Habana, al Museo de la Revolucón y de Bellas Artes, al Museo Hemingway, al Museo del Ron y al Museo de Alfabetización y la Ciudad Escolar Libertad para conocer del reconocido sistema de educación cubano.  El grupo también visitara una casa del médico de la familia .  Viajando por el día a Pinar del Rio, visitara una finca de campesinos, una comunidad campesina en las montañas y una fábrica del tabaco.  Visitará a otros artistas en sus estudios y talleres en la Habana, y compartirán experiencias con un Comité de Defensa de la Revolución.  También asistirá al Centro de Estudios Che Guevara.  De noche, el grupo tendrá la oportunidad de asistir a los famosos centros de jazz y baile, como La Zorra y el Cuervo, El Gato Tuerto y Jazz Café para un contacto directo con la música y vida nocturna de La Habana.  El costo incluye la inscripción en el Centro de Estudios Cubanos y The Cuba Reader, antología informativa sobre Cuba y la Revolución Cubana. 
Cuba:  History, Land & People, June 16 to 23 and September 15 to 27
A 7 day trip that introduces you to the Cuban people, their history, land and culture through a series of visits to historic sites, museums, talks by experts on Cuban society, and opportunities to mingle directly with the Cuban people. Based in Havana, you will also travel to the romantic city of Santa Clara, seized by Che in the final days of the Cuban Revolution. Visits will include the Museum of the Revolution, the Museum of Fine Arts which takes you through several centuries of artists' portrayal of Cuban landscape and personalities, the Hemingway Museum, the Center for José Martí, and the Che Memorial and Museum. You will meet well known local artists José Fuster of Jaimanitas and Salvador González Escalona of the Callejón de Hamel, each of whom has created a work of art out of their communities, involving their neighbors and drawing on rich cultural heritages. Cost includes membership in the Center for Cuban Studies and The Cuba Reader, an anthology of writings on Cuba and the Cuban Revolution.
Go back to list of trips 
The Spiritual Life of Cuba - July 7 to 14, September 15 to 22
An exploration of Cuba's spiritual life. After many years of disregard and at times outright discrimination against practitioners, since the first visit of the Pope to Cuba some 10 years ago, there has been a resurgence of religion in Cuba as well as a new acceptance of religious practice. The first set of dates coincides with the second visit of the Pope to Cuba but this and all other trip dates will explore the full variety of religious faith and practices in Cuba: Catholicism, protestant faiths, Judaism and a variety of Afro Syncretic religions. The group will visit the Yoruba Association and attend a ceremony; visit a variety of churches in Havana and in Matanzas, the Church of San Lázaro and the mission of nuns who attend it, and the extraordinarily vibrant and peaceful Evangelical Seminary in Matanzas. As well, the group will visit the Jewish Community Center in Havana and share a meal with the Jewish community there. There will be opportunities to talk with priests, congregation leaders and parishioners of all walks of life. Cost includes a copy of Fidel on Religion and membership in the Center for Cuban Studies.  Go back to list of trips 
Architectural Heritage of Cuba - June 9 to 16 and October 6 to 13
Old Havana and Trinidad have been declared by UNESCO architectural treasures of humanity.  But these cities and other gems such as Cienfuegos are more than just buildings.  They are the built expression of the culture and history of the people who built them and of those who still live in them today.  The group will explore Old and Modern Havana with specialists from the Office of the Historian of the City, on foot and by bus; visit an extraordinary Art Deco neighborhood on the outskirts of the city; and the neighborhood of Jaimanitas where the artist Fuster has helped his neighbors decorate their houses with unique expressions of whimsy and flair. The group will also travel to the stately city of Cienfuegos, long an important port city with both a central colonial park and a fascinating waterfront area.  Continuing on to the City of Trinidad, the group will stroll the old streets where often they will be welcomed in by the house proud residents to see the uniquely designed interior roofs and patios of their centuries old houses.  Before returning to Havana, the group also will tour the Valley of the Sugar Mills with its Iznaga Tower.  
Program Costs
Cost of our programs is $2800 per person in double occupancy, with a single supplement of $220.  Cost includes:  RT Air from Miami or Ft Lauderdale  (travel from other cities with supplement possible); accommodations at our preferred hotels, the Hotel Presidente in Vedado and the Hotel Plaza in Old Havana, or equivalent as available; with upgrade possible at Hotel Nacional; and accommodations at equivalent quality hotels in the provinces; breakfast daily at the hotels plus welcome and farewell dinners and at least 2 lunches and 1 other dinner; transportation by airconditioned bus for transfers and all scheduled program activities; program of activities as described; English speaking guide permanently assigned to group; entry visa for Cuba; program and service fees; membership in the Center for Cuban Studies; educational materials to help prepare for the trip.  We would be pleased to have Cuban Americans join any of our programs and can process the entry paperwork for Cuba for them. 
Go back to list of trips

So many trips!  We're excited at the new possibilities for working with old clients, new clients and long time friends.  And working with the Center for Cuban Studies!  This is the premier organization in the United States, building bridges between the United States and Cuba since 1972.  Between their associations in Cuba and those of Common Ground, these will be truly People to People experiences. 

Hope you can join, and hope you will tell your friends, 
Merri Ansara
Common Ground Education & Travel Services
Common Ground Education & Travel Services

Trips are successful when people spread the word to friends and colleagues and bring them along with them on the trip.  As each trip requires 10-12 participants to go ahead, this also ensures that your first choice trip can go.  

If you bring 3 people with you on the trip, each of you saves 5%, if you bring 5 people, each person saves 10%.  And if you bring 12 people with you, we will be delighted to send you for free. 

Offer Expires: March 30, 2012

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