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Inside Cuba's Art Revolution - Meeting the Artists and People of Cuba

Program Number: 21476RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/9/2013 - 11/17/2013;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Cuba
Price starting at: $3,998.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Join Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Essdras Suarez for an inspiring photographic journey into the heart of Cuba. In Havana, meet local artists, performers, dancers and students for an insider’s look at the art scene in Cuba, as well as an opportunity to photograph dance rehearsals, private performances and enjoy behind-the scenes photographic access to the exciting world of the Cuban Art Revolution. Throughout the journey, keep your eyes open for photographic opportunities as you get to know Cubans through the lens and through one-on-one exchanges.


• Meet with members of the Havana Artist Collaborative to discuss their work and the role of art in Cuba.
• Visit a local art school and learn about Cuban education as you meet with students and teachers.
• Learn to improve the artistic and technical aspects of your photography under the guidance of photojournalist Essdras Suarez and founder of Plymouth Digital Photogrpahers, Amy Davies.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.


It's a time of rapid change on the island of Cuba. After decades of restrictions, dynamic Cubans seize new opportunities created by pro-free-enterprise reforms. Havana’s “yank tanks” (classic American cars) are increasingly joined by late model imports. Literacy and health care statistics outpace many developed countries. At the same time, some Cubans still lack access to goods as basic as toothpaste. It’s a fascinating moment to discover Cuba and meet with its people as they look to the future.

Meals and Lodgings
   Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South Hotel
  Miami, USA 1 night
   Hotel Havana Libre
  Havana, Cuba 5 nights
   Meliá Las Americas
  Varadero, Cuba 2 nights
 Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Explore a full range of attractions within minutes of Miami Airport hotel's front door- including Downtown Miami, South Beach, University of Miami, the Miami Beach Convention Center, Coral Gables and countless golf courses. The airport is 10 minutes from the hotel and offers a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel which runs every half hour. Look for a red colored Marriott shuttle curbside at the "Departure" level.
  Contact info: 1201 N.W. Lejeune Rd.
Miami, FL 33126 USA
phone: 305-642-8200
  Room amenities: AC, hair dryer, cable TV, telephone, free in room high-speed internet
  Facility amenities: Business center, pool, fitness center, restaurant on-site, room service
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Contact Road Scholar Travel Contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Hotel Havana Libre
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Calle M Havana, Cuba
Havana,   Cuba
phone: +5378346100
  Room amenities: Ttelephone in the bathroom, hanger in the bathroom, plug for electric razor in the bathroom, hairdryer, 110 volt, control of temperature, mini bar, satellite television, table and seats for breakfast, musical thread, radio alarm, safe deposit box, telephone, and air conditioning
  Facility amenities: Air conditioning, bar, barber / men’s hairdresser, beauty salon, billiards / pool table, boutiques, business centre, busy street, pharmacy, reception staff speaks Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, restaurant, doctor in hotel - on call 24hrs, front desk safe deposit box, daily newspapers, dntertainment programs, fax, gallery, smoke detectors, fire alarms, strobes, extinguishers, sprinklers, staff trained in first aid & CPR, uniformed security personnel 24hrs, shop(s) with basic supplies, souvenirs & gifts, shops max 2 min walk, snacks and drinks 24 hours a day, international cuisine, internet on hotel's PCs, ladies hairdresser, laundry & ironing service, lobby bar, malecon max 5 min walk, money exchange, swimming pool, taxis desk, telephone - National & international calls, terrace, TV room/bar (international channels/videos), voltage 110/120
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Meliá Las Americas
Type: Resort
  Description: Located beachfront on Varadero Beach, near the the Plaza America Convention Center. Five-Star All Inclusive Resort with 340 rooms.
  Contact info: Crta. de las Morlas, Cuba.
Varadero,   Cuba
phone: +011+53- 45- 66- 7600
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, coffee maker, safety deposit box, pillow menu, health center nearby, clothes hangers in the bathroom, temperature control, 20 volt outlet, plug for electric shaver in the bathroom, full-length mirror, rooms for smokers and non-smokers, breakfast table and chairs, minibar, assorted minibar, umbrella, iron and ironing board, door with peephole, hair dryer, 24-hour room service, telephone, terrace or balcony, satellite TV, golf course and garden view
  Facility amenities: Craftworks, boutique, trips and optionals desk, foreign currency exchange, internet connection (additional cost), reception desk, art gallery, rooms for smokers and non-smokers, hammocks, mini market, laundry and dry cleaning services, fax service, 24-hour medical service, taxis, gift shop, private transfers in cars (upon request), 24-hour room service Restaurants: Il Limoncello, La Arcada, La Robleza BBQ, La Terraza, Sakura Health and Beauty: Cardiovascular equipment, gym, whirlpool, massages, beauty parlor, sauna Pools: hammocks, towel service, lounge chairs service
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program begins with orientation in Miami followed by dinner on day one of the program. Please arrive at the hotel by 4 PM. You will be staying at Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends upon arrival of the charter flight in Miami on day nine. Avoid scheduling connecting flights that depart within 3 hours of the scheduled arrival time. You will be staying at Meliá Las Americas the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Road Scholar is licensed under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the U.S. Department of Treasury for participants to travel to Cuba on a Road Scholar program. Participants will receive a copy of this license prior to travel to Cuba in Miami, during orientation. In addition to the Personal Information Forms, each participant is required to submit an Affidavit of Participation, Charter Reservation Form, and a clear copy of the passport picture information page prior to departure (check-list provided). These forms are at the end of the First Information Packet and must be completed, signed, and submitted to Road Scholar eight weeks before the program start date. IMPORTANT NOTE: Any participant born in Cuba, regardless of current nationality, must advise Road Scholar immediately as additional forms and costs may be required.
  Parking availability:
Parking at the Marriott is $15/day (subject to change). It is also possible to park at the airport and take the hotel shuttle.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Miami
  Transportation to site: The Courtyard Miami Airport South Hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to/from the Miami airport, which departs the airport every 15 minutes. Upon arrival in Miami, there is no need to call the hotel, as the shuttle circles every 15 minutes on the departure level (2nd level) 5am to 1am daily. Look for the red and white shuttle with the Marriott logo, marked with the Miami Airport Marriott, Courtyard and Residence Inn logos on the side (this information is taken from the hotel website and is subject to change without prior notice).
  From End of Program
  Location:  Havana
  Nearest highway: Cuba’s national highway, the Autopista.
  Nearest airport:  Havana International Airport
  Transportation from site: A group transfer from the hotel in Varadero to the Havana airport for our return charter flight is scheduled for all participants. The flight is currently scheduled to arrive in Miami around 3:30 PM. For those looking to make early flight arrangements, please do not schedule connecting flights within 3 to 3.5 hours of arrival in Miami due to possible delays and airport security. We recommend that you not make flight arrangements from Miami until 40 days prior to departure due to possible schedule changes with the charter flight times. The Final Information Packet will have the confirmed charter flight times. PLEASE NOTE: Charter flight times are subject to change at any time, Road Scholar has no control over these changes.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival in Miami / Program Orientation
(Saturday, November 9)
 Arrive To: PLEASE NOTE: This day-by-day schedule should only be used as a guide since program elements are subject to change as availability of some activities is controlled by the Cuban government. Individuals will arrive at the Miami International Airport with an independent transfer to the hotel using their free shuttle service. Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and relax until orientation. Please arrive no later than 4 PM.
 Afternoon: The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 4:45 PM to accompany the group to the orientation room. Welcome and orientation begins at 5:00 PM followed by a presentation by a member of the Cuban American community in Miami to hear about the Cuban American experience.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Fly to Havana, Cuba / Revolution Plaza / Check into Hotel Havana Libre
(Sunday, November 10)

Note: Please note: Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program.

 Breakfast: Boxed breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning departure from the hotel to the terminal (final flight times will be confirmed during orientation). The Road Scholar Group Leader will meet the group in the hotel lobby to transfer to the airport. Please be in the hotel lobby with your luggage and be ready to depart the hotel 15 minutes before departure schedule. Transfer to the airport and check in to the charter flight to Havana (PLEASE NOTE: Flight times are subject to change and will be confirmed in the Final Information Packet). Upon arrival in Havana, enjoy a welcome greeting by an experienced bilingual Cuban Guide, who will be with us for the entire program.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet with local artists and discuss their inspirations. Depart for a driving excursion of Havana's sites to get a sense of the city. See the capitol, malecon, U.S. Interest Section, La Rampa, and Havana University. Check-in to the hotel Havana Libre (check in is around 4:00 - 4:30 PM)
 Dinner: Walk to dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Hotel Havana Libre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Organic Farming / Plaza Vieja (the Old Square) / Artist Collaborative Dinner
(Monday, November 11)

Note: This day will require walking over cobblestone and uneven streets in Old Havana.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: People to People Connection: Visit the UBPC Vivero Organoponico Alamar, a successful worked-owned organic farm cooperative, Discussion of the role of organic farms in improving the Cuban diet, and rebuilding the economy.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, walk to the Plaza Vieja (Old Square), discover the finest examples of restoration, which also serves as the market square. Then, explore Camera Obscura which allows for a unique view of Old Havana.
 Dinner: People to People Connection and Presentation: Meet with an artist collaborative based in Havana, and join these members for a dinner reception in your honor. Meet each artist and enjoy some time to talk about their art, work, and life in Cuba.
 Evening: After the reception, enjoy the evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Havana Libre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Expert Presentation and Cuban music / Community Arts Project / Plaza de Armas (Arms Square) / Musical group
(Tuesday, November 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about the interesting and different styles and types of Cuban music. Enter Old Havana to experience the city's historic beauty and focus on the oldest part of the city at the Plaza de Armas (Arms Square). See the Greek-Roman ‘El Templete' site of the first Mass and town council meeting in 1519. Also, learn about the city's restoration project of its plazas and squares while discovering how and who funded this renovation. Next, discover the City Museum, which was once the Governors palace.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: People Connection: Enjoy interactions with children at a local community art project (Please note: Donations are accepted at this location, however, Road Scholar makes a financial contribution to sites on your behalf, so bringing donations is optional. Please consult the list in the information packet for all suggested items). People to People Connection: Enjoy interactions with a musical group.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Havana Libre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Danza Combinatoria / Art Studio
(Wednesday, November 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: People to People Connection: This morning, interact with an emerging dance troupe of renowned dancers from the Danza Combinatoria, and enjoy unique interactions (Please note: This activity accepts donations and may be substituted with another performing arts group where donations are also accepted).
 Lunch: Boxed lunch with the performance group; this is a unique opportunity to have intriguing conversations.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet and have authentic dialogues with an artist at his home, learn about his life, his works, and how they have progressed throughout the years.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Havana Libre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Dance rehearsal / Senior Center / Cathedral Square / Presentation on dance
(Thursday, November 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: People to People Connection: Engage with a dance group and see their rehearsal before taking some time to talk with the dancers and learn about their training and careers. People to People Connection: Next, interact with members of a senior community center to learn about the work done by the charity that runs the center. Then, enjoy some time with our host over snacks and drinks to play cards and dominos or just chat about family (Please note: We recommend that you bring postcards of your town with landmarks, etc, which can be great conversation starters. This site also accepts donations).
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Discover Plaza de la Cathedral (Cathedral Square), in Old Havana, which has boasted an interesting history (PLEASE NOTE: If the Cathedral is open, we will take this opportunity to visit the inside, but the times it is open are often changed). People to People Connection: Meet with students who study the Arts at their school. People to People Connection: Meet with a local dance instructor and learn about the history of dance in Cuba, and explore the various styles and learn why Cuba has such a rich tradition of dance.
 Dinner: Dinner on own in Havana. Explore one of the many paladars (home hosted meals) that offers a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face in much smaller groups with local Cubans. This is also an opportunity to go into Old Havana and explore the culinary selection available. A list will be provided of good choices and the Cuban Guide can help make recommendations on site.
Accommodations: Hotel Havana Libre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Drive to Matanzas and Varadero/ Arts School / French Pharmacy / Afro-Cuban Dance / Community Center
(Friday, November 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Check out of Hotel Havana Libre and board the coach to begin the drive to Varadero. People to People Connection: On the way, engage with students and learn about their studies and interests (Please note: This site accepts donations). People to People Connection: Enjoy an Afro Cuban dance and talk with the performers.
 Lunch: People to People Connection: Enjoy a visit to a potter's house and farm and learn about the art projects they do. Next, eat lunch at the farm.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet with young students with special needs and enjoy a musical / dance performance.
 Dinner: Dinner buffett at leisure.
 Evening: Evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Meliá Las Americas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Danzon / Meeting with dance instructors
(Saturday, November 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: People to People Connection: Learn about the most traditional dance of Cuba, Danzon and interact with those who practice it.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel at leisure.
 Afternoon: People Connection: Meet and interact with local dance insturctors, and learn various Cuban dances. Afterward, enjoy the afternoon at leisure to prepare your bags and rest.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Meliá Las Americas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Departure to Miami / Return to U.S.
(Sunday, November 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Check out of the hotel very early and drive to the Havana airport for flight to Miami. Charter flight times will be confirmed in the Final Information Packet which is normally sent approximately 4-5 weeks prior to departure. Please do not schedule connecting flights within 3 - 4 hours of arrival in Miami due to possible delays and airport security (PLEASE NOTE: The flight time is subject to change).
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Simple Habana Melody, From When the World Was Good

Author: Oscar Hijuelos

Description: An unlikely love story and lyrical tribute to Latin music by the author of Mambo Kings.


Author: Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen

Description: With full-page photographs, introductory essays on history, architecture, music, food and more, this oversized, illustrated paperback by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Francois Missen and photographer Pierre Hausherr captures the spirit of Cuba, its people, nature and culture.

Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo

Author: Ned Sublette

Description: A thorough and entertaining history of Cuba and its music by the popular radio producer, music historian and cofounder of Cuban record label QbaDisc.

Cuba, Art and History from 1868 to Today

Author: Natha Bondil (Editor)

Description: With ravishing color reproductions of murals, posters, paintings and photographs, this magnificent book documents the history of art in Cuba from independence.

Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know

Author: Julia Sweig

Description: Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this admirably succinct history of the island nation and its role in world affairs.

Culture Smart! Cuba

Author: Mandy Macdonald

Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.

Havana Map

Author: Cognoscenti

Description: A colorful map of the city center of Havana.

Havana, A Cultural and Literary Companion

Author: Claudia Lightfoot

Description: An illuminating guide to the city, its history and geography, as the inspiration for writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals.

Havana, History and Architecture of a Romantic City

Author: Maria Luisa Lobo Montalvo, Hugh Thomas (Introduction)

Description: This magnificent history of Havana, featuring 480 color illustrations, shows the city and its growth from Spanish colony to independence.

Inside Havana

Author: Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez

Description: This handsome book showcases the diverse architecture of Havana, from modernist masterpieces to splendid baroque palaces and traditional businesses such as the Partagas cigar factory, one of Havana’s oldest and finest. With expert writing by Hernandez and rich color photographs by Gianni Basso.

Moon Handbook Cuba

Author: Christopher P. Baker

Description: Baker's comprehensive, indispensable guide leaves no stone unturned, covering the natural, cultural and political life of the island with style.

New Art of Cuba

Author: Luis Camnitzer

Description: A survey of Cuban art since 1981, all by young artists who have come-of-age since the revolution, and revised to reflect more recent developments Twenty-four new color plates augment the 200 black and white illustrations.

Our Man in Havana

Author: Graham Greene

Description: The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into cold war espionage with disastrous results.

The History of Havana

Author: Raphael Hernandez, Dick Cluster

Description: Co-authored by a Cuban and an American, this multi-faceted history of the city looks at culture, art, politics and economic development.

The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: Hemingway's brief story of a fisherman who after 84 days with no luck finally makes a big catch is also an affectionate portrait of life in Cuba. It won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Trading with the Enemy

Author: Tom Miller

Description: Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.

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