Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cuba Today

draft program of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, subject to change

Saturday Day 1
9:00 am Check in with Gulfstream International Charters, Miami International Airport.
1:00 pm Depart on Sky King flight 5K-252
2:00 pm Arrive Havana. Meet guide and drivers from Havanatur and transfer to the Hotel.
Evening Cocktails and orientation with Prof. Tony Diaz, economist and professor of tourism at the University of Havana.  Welcome dinner at El Barraca Restaurant at the Hotel Nacional,a regal art deco hotel from the 1930s that has played an important role in many different periods of Cuba’s modern history.  Afterwards, a stroll on the Malécon, the seaside promenade that spans Havana, just at the foot of the Hotel Nacional.

Sunday Day 2
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.  Travel to Regla, a small fishing and stevedore town across Havana Bay
for a visit to one of Cuba’s most important churches, the Church of the Black Virgin.  For those who wish, a chance to attend services while others in the group can wander the streets of the town or visit the Museum of Regla with artifacts and relics of the town’s past.  After services, the group will meet with the church Priest or the Deacon, a well known poet.
Mid morning Return to Old Havana for a guided walking tour of the Old City.  Take the opportunity to stop to Old Havana residents who usually are more than glad to talk with visitors.  Take photographs and record impressions and conversations.
Mid day Lunch at a traditional Cuban restaurant in Old Havana, such as La Mina.
Afternoon Continue walking tour of Old Havana, ending at the Museum of the Revolution where the group will have a guided tour with a docent followed by the opportunity for questions & answers about the Cuban Revolution and its legacy in today’s Cuban society.
Evening Drive to the Morro Castle for dinner and the opportunity to explore the several small museums and exhibits in the restored fort, and then for the traditional cañonazo ceremony in a crowd of local Cubans as well as visitors from all over the globe.  We suggest going up on the battlements to watch, which are both the best seats and also where most of the local people go to watch.  Interestingly, the ceremony remains a perennial family outing event in Cuba and most of the spectators will be Cuban.

Monday Day 3
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.
Drive modern Havana by bus.  Stop in the Plaza of the Revolution and visit the José Martií memorial.  Meet with a docent who will explain the history of the monument and discuss the various important events that have taken place there.  Time for questions & answers about the docent’s role, experiences and ideas about his or her work and the memorial.  Continue exploring Modern Havana by bus, driving past Colón Cemetery, the Malecón, seawall, and through the neighborhoods of Vedado, Miramar and Siboney.
Mid day Lunch at El Aljibe Restaurant, famed for its special chicken dish since before the Revolution.  From there visit the Casa Habano nearby for a meeting over coffee with a tobacco specialist who will explain the role that tobacco and cigars plays in Cuba’s history, culture and international economy and a discussion of Cuba’s dependency on a product that even Cuba itself deems injurious to health.
Afternoon Visit to the Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, a cultural and
scientific nonprofit organization dedicated to protection of the environment, culture and society. Meet with a staff specialist in Environmental Education, Local Sustainability,or preservation of Cuba’s cultural patrimony.
From there, visit a nearby Community Garden or Farmers’ Market or, time permitting, both.
vening Free to explore one of several paladares (home based private restaurants) for dinner.  Your guide will make reservations for you individually or in small groups and alert the restaurant owners that you would like the opportunity to discuss with their views on small enterprise in Cuba and the restaurant business in particular.  (Direct payment for dinner.)

Tuesday Day 4
Morning Breakfast at the hotel. Depart for Pinar del Rio for the day, with the first stop Las Terrazas
Community, a town built in the early 1970s as part of an experimental community building project.  The town has since the mid 1980s dedicated itself to ecotourism and to preserving the nearby biosphere and nature reserve.  Town leaders and community members will show the group their town and answer questions.
Mid day Lunch at El Romero in Las Terrazas.  
Afternoon Continue to the capital of the province, Pinar del Rio, for a visit to the project run by artist Jesús Carrete for children with Downs Syndrome.  Meet the children and young adults.  Deliver art supplies donated through a humanitarian project of the Center for Cuban Studies.
Afternoon Return to Havana.
Evening At leisure.

Wednesday Day 5
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.  Meet with Adelina Fernandez or another specialist in International Relations at the Cuban Women’s Federation about the work of the Federation and the changing role of women.
Mid day Visit to the Alamar  Organiponic Farm.  Alamar is a housing project on the outskirts of the city built in the 1960s and 70s.  Since its inception it has gone through various phases and at present has several community organizing groups as well as the community farm you will visit.  Opportunity to meet with local people.  Mid day Lunch at the restaurant run by the Farm.  (Direct payment, not included).
Afternoon Returning to Havana,  meet with Alberto Faya, well known musician and musicologist, who will
talk to the group about the history and ties between the music of Cuba, the United States and Latin America as well as a number of other far reaching themes.
 Evening Cultural program.

Thursday Day 6
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.  Meet at Casa de las Américas with Gloria Rolando, Daisy Rubiera, or
another prominent Afro-Cuban woman in the arts about their work and life.
Afterwards, depart for Matanzas Province, stopping first at the Severino Castle and museum to
the Slave Trade.  From there, tour the city of Matanzas itself, including the Pharmacy Museum and Ediciones Vigía a privately run publishing house that produces handmade books of high artistic quality and employs a number of local women.  Opportunity for discussion.
Mid day Lunch in Matanzas with an historian from the University of Matanzas who will talk with the group about the history of the slave trade in Cuba, as well as the history of Matanzas itself and why it was long known as the “Athens of the Caribbean”.
Evening Return to Havana in the late afternoon.  Evening on your own.

Friday Day 7
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.  Meet with Rafael Hernandez or another prominent Cuban writer and
intellectual for a discussion of U.S.-Cuban relations and the road forward for our countries.
Mid day Lunch on your own.
Afternoon Break into small groups for independent activities with a local activist who will help the group to explore different neighborhoods and markets, conversing with local residents they encounter.
Evening Farewell dinner followed by Opera de la Calle, an impressive community street theater event.

Saturday Day 8
Morning Breakfast at the hotel.  
Mid day Check out of hotel and transfer to the airport.  Check in for flight, pay 25CUC airport departure tax, pass through Cuban Immigration and board your flight for home.
3:00 pm Depart on Sky King flight 5K-253, arriving Miami at approximately 4:00 pm.  End of trip.


April 20
May 18
June 22
July  20
Sept.  21 
Oct    19 
Nov. 23
New Year’s Special Dec. 29

Trip Costs

Cost of the trip is $3400 to $3700 depending on season and hotel.  Cost includes:
RT air between Miami and Havana
Accommodations at the Melia Cohiba or Habana Libre in double occupancy (single occupancy available)
Breakfast daily at the hotel
Welcome & farewell dinners and 4 lunches
Transfers on arrival and departure
Transportation by airconditioned bus for all scheduled program activities
Program of activities, excursions, meetings and visits that maximize both the educational opportunities and the opportunity to meet and talk directly with the Cuban people
English speaking guide permanently assigned to the group
Program and service fees and honoraria
Visa assistance
Medical insurance in Cuba

For More Information

Travel services provided by Common Ground Education & Travel of Massachusetts & Florida  413-203-1125

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