Field Trip: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (National Museum of Fine Arts). Led by a local art historian, examine the history and evolution of art in Cuba, and the style that has made Cuban art popular around the world. After many years without a permanent home, the collections were brought together in 1953. The museum’s two buildings house masterpieces of Cuban art from the 17th Century to contemporary art of today.
Hotel Check-in: We check into the hotel for three nights.Dinner: At the hotel.Evening: It has been a long day of travel with new sights and sounds. Take the evening to rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.Lodging: Hotel Habana LibreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Field Trip: Hemingway Farm, Finca La Vigía (Lookout House). Ten miles east of Havana is the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula where Ernest Hemingway bought a modest house in 1940 and lived for 30 years with his wife Mary. Here he wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” and “A Movable Feast” while enjoying his passion for fishing with local people. After the writer’s death in 1961, the Cuban government took ownership of the property where restoration and preservation work has now begun.
People to People Connection: Organoponico Vivero Alamar. Meet with farmers and members of an agricultural cooperative in the heart of Alamar, a residential district in the eastern part of Havana. Learn about urban agriculture, organic and cooperative farming, and living in a small urban suburb and learn about what it is like living here at one of Havana's largest and most successful urban gardens. Less than 30 acres, it is highly productive, yielding fresh vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, seedlings, timber, medicinal plants, and more. The farm shop sells products directly to members of the community as well as local restaurants.Lunch: We continue our People to People connection with lunch in the gardens featuring produce grown here at the cooperative, joined by members of the community.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Museo Municipal de Guanabacoa. The municipality of Guanabacoa is one of the oldest in what eventually became Havana and was later a focal point of the slave trade. In addition to history and culture, five of the Guanabacoa Museum’s seven galleries are dedicated to religious syncretism -- the fusion of diverse beliefs and practices -- with the most complete ethnographic collection of Afro-Cuban religious cults, the best known of which is Santería. Forbidden to practice their native African religion, imported slaves embraced the outward forms of Christianity without any meaningful change in their beliefs. Learn directly from contemporary practitioners of Santería and witness an interactive performance of music and dance representing Santeria deities.
People to People Connections: Family Visit. Meet and talk freely with a local family about life in Havana and Cuba over afternoon coffee.Dinner: Dinner this evening is on your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.Evening: Free Evening. Take time to relax and review the high points of the day with new Road Scholar friends.Lodging: Hotel Habana LibreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
People to People Connection: Trovadores (Troubadours). In the medieval era, troubadours were itinerant musicians who wrote and performed their own music on chivalric and romantic themes. Cuba’s trovadores carried on this tradition in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, performing traditional ballads called “trova” that owe their vibrance to Cuba’s combination of Spanish and African heritage. We will meet some of the best known local trovadores, have an informal discussion about their lives, and enjoy a performance.
After this session, we will transfer to the hotel and check in with some time to freshen up before dinner.Dinner: Dinner this evening is out at a local restaurant, an opportunity to savor more of the flavor of Cuba.Evening: Take the evening at your leisure to partake of what the hotel has to offer, enjoy a walk to see the ocean views, or just find a cozy spot to observe the passing parade.Lodging: Hotel Los CaneyesMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Field Trip: Cienguegos Commercial District. Stroll through the main shopping street of Cienfuegos and learn about the differences between Ration, Cuban Pesos, and CUC stores. Explore the complexity of the two-currency system with opportunities to talk with Cubans who shop at these stores as we enter and speak with the workers and hear what they do.
People to People Connection: Meet with members of a noted local choral group, many of whom have learned English in the last few years, for interaction and conversation. Learn about their involvement with the choir and enjoy a rehearsal.Lunch: At a local restaurant.Afternoon: People-to-People Connection: Meet artists who operate a print collaborative, learn their livers, their work and working conditions, and what it means to be an artist in a smaller Cuban town.
People-to-People Connection: We conclude our day in Cienfuegos with a special opportunity to interact with children involved in a community performance art project. We will meet kids, volunteers, and parents, learn about the project, and participate with kids as they teach us some of their songs.
From here, we travel to the port and board the ship.Dinner: On board the ship.Evening: Free Evening: Settle in and begin exploring the ship that will be our floating hotel for the next several nights.
Please note that Road Scholar has secured an unlimited beverage package for our participants for the duration of time on the Cristal. This includes unlimited water, soda, coffee and tea while on board.Lodging: MV Louis CristalMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We return to port after this session.Afternoon: Presentation: Understanding Cuba. With your Study Leader, deepen your understanding of Cuba with further information and discussion.Dinner: On board the ship.Evening: Free Evening: Enjoy the rhythm of life aboard ship as you stroll the decks, take in a performance, and fall asleep rocked by the gentle motion of the sea.Lodging: MV Louis CristalMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
People to People Connection: Our next interaction is with members of Opera de la Calle (Opera in the Street), a dynamic enterprise that mixes traditional opera with Cuban song, dance, and pop music from abroad. In 2006, its founder took advantage of changes in government policy to encourage more private enterprise. Learn how the company became adept at working with the Cuban system, attend a rehearsal, and talk with the artists about their motivation, inspiration, lives, and careers.Lunch: Share a box lunch with Opera de la Calle artists and continue your exchanges. Having a meal together is an excellent way to build bonds of friendship.
After lunch, we return to port with some time to freshen up aboard the ship.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Proyecto Muraleando. After beginning neighborhood art workshops in 2001, a small group of artists set out to transform their barrio through a “muraling” project. Murals began appearing, and eventually a community centered event brought together artists, musicians, dancers, singers, actors, poets, and food for a cultural celebration. Meet project members to learn how they transformed a 100-year-old water tank into a multi-use art gallery and classroom space for adults and children in ceramics, bookmaking, papier mache, dance, and theater.Dinner: Dinner with Proyecto Muraleando. Enjoy the last night in Havana as a guest of the community and meet some of the children and parents.Evening: We return to the ship after dinner.Lodging: MV Louis CristalMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Presentation: Meet with the Study Leader for another presentation on aspects of Cuba's history and culture to deepen your knowledge and understanding.
People to People Connection: Meet with Cuban members of the crew to learn about their lives, their work, and what attracted them to working on board a ship. Engage in candid, small group conversations.Lunch: On board the ship.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Cuban Dance Instruction. Meet and interact with talented instructors to learn national dances including Salsa. As you practice the steps during a one-on-one lesson, take this opportunity for personal conversations about life and work.Dinner: On board the ship.Evening: Enjoy more of the shipboard experience.Lodging: MV Louis CristalMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
People to People Connection: In the same village, we will visit a small elementary school, meet with faculty and administrators, and learn more about education in eastern Cuba as you compare and contrast this experience with the earlier school visit. Talk and exchange ideas during our small group exchange.Lunch: We will have lunch at a local restaurant.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet with workers and artists at a unique paper and print factory that uses equipment from the early 20th Century. Learn about this specialized industry with opportunities to talk with a group of workers, share in conversations about their lives, work, and wages. The workers will proudly show you their restored equipment and how it works.Dinner: On board the ship.Evening: Share highlights of today's experiences with your fellow participants as you reflect on differences between our two countries.Lodging: MV Louis CristalMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
People to People Connection: At a Performing Arts school, meet faculty and students to learn about and discussion education and the arts in Cuba.
Field Trip: Santiago de Cuba. The city’s colorful, sometimes turbulent history dates back to 1514 when it was founded by Spanish conquistadors. We will call at the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, last resting place of patriot, freedom fighter, poet and Cuban national hero José Martí. We will also see Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, better known as El Morro, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles.”Lunch: At a local restaurant.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Ballet Folklórico Cutumba. This vibrant folkloric dance company performs Afro-Cuban-Franco-Haitian dance, music, and song. In addition to local performances, Cutumba has toured extensively to venues and festivals in Europe, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South America, Canada, and the U.S. We will meet with some of the dancers then observe a practice and talk about their experiences.
People to People Connection: Meet members of a community project that helps share the arts with kids in a needy neighborhood. Learn about their work, the great need in this mostly Afro-Cuban part of the city, meet some of the kids, and sit in in a class.
We will check in to our local hotel late afternoon with some time to freshen up before dinner.Dinner: At the hotel.Evening: It has been another full day. Take the evening to talk about what has been most meaningful and recharge your batteries.Lodging: Melia Santiago de CubaMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
People to People Connection: La Tumba Francesca. Meet and interact with dancers and perfomers who carry on this Franco-Haitian tradition. The dance, song, and drumming style known as “tumba Francesa” (French drum) was brought to Cuba by Haitian slaves who were resettled in the island’s eastern regions during the 1790s. It embodies one of the oldest and strongest links to the Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French dances. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
People to People Connection: Casa del Changüí. Meet and interact with musicians who play this style of popular Cuban music and see how each instrument is played. Changüí originated in the early 19th Century, combining elements of Spanish canción with African rhythms and percussion instruments.Lunch: At a local restaurant.Afternoon: People to People Connection: Family Visit. Meet and interact with a local family. Their home, located behind the small town fire station, actually houses three families. Over coffee and conversation, learn what life is like for typical Cubans in this area.Dinner: Enjoy good food and good company during our farewell dinner at the hotel.Evening: Share one last evening with your fellow participants and new Road Scholar friends, then prepare for our early morning departure back to America.Lodging: Melia Santiago de CubaMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Charter flight times are still to be confirmed, so we recommend that you not make any onward travel arrangements departing before 3:00pm due to possible delays with the flight and wait time at U.S. Customs and Immigration.
Upon arrival in Miami, if you have connecting flights, clear U.S. Immigration and Custom then make your way to the transfer desks to recheck your luggage and secure boarding passes.
We hope you have enjoyed this in-depth experience of Cuba, learning about its history, culture, and people face to face. Please join us again for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!Meals Included: Breakfast