20613
Cuba
The Spirit of Eastern Cuba: Experiencing “Oriente”
Explore the other side of Cuba: the “Oriente” or East, home to still-unchanged charming, historic towns, distinctive culture and warm, welcoming people.
Rating (4.83)
Program No. 20613RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,895
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9 days
8 nights
21 meals
8 B 7 L 6 D
DAY
1
Arrive Miami, Check In, Orientation
Miami
D
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center

Activity note: Hotel check in from 3:00 p.m. Take the free hotel shuttle from the airport to the hotel; see details in the Information Packet. Please plan to arrive at the hotel no later than 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 5:15 p.m. to accompany the group to the orientation room. Welcome and orientation begins at 5:30 p.m. This very important meeting prepares you for our educational program and travel in and out of Cuba. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and discuss U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)) regulations that govern our program. Flight times to Cuba are subject to change and will be confirmed during Orientation. The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are controlled by the Cuban Government and are subject to change on short notice. Dinners at restaurants in Cuba will feature Cuban cuisine and beverage choices such as Cuban beer, soft drinks, bottled water; other beverages usually available for purchase. Travel and transfers in Cuba will be via private motorcoach.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, ask the Group Leader about any further questions you may have, settle in, and get a good night’s rest before our early morning departure to the airport.

DAY
2
Charter Flight to Cuba, Transfer to Gibara
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Flight times to Cuba are subject to change. The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are controlled by the Cuban Government and are subject to change on short notice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After completing hotel check out, we will assemble in the lobby with luggage 15 minutes before our scheduled departure. The Group Leader will meet us in the lobby for our transfer via hotel shuttle to the airport and our terminal for the flight to Holguin. br> We will arrive at Holguín Airport. Upon completing Immigration and Customs procedures, we will board our private motorcoach and meet our Cuban Guide who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program.

Lunch: In a local restaurant, enjoy a Cuban meal with typical beverage choices of Cuban beer, soft drink, water, with espresso at the end of the meal; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will transfer to the coastal village of Gibara in the province of Holguín that was part of Oriente until redistricted in 1978. When Christopher Columbus first laid eyes on the coast of Cuba in 1492, he called it “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” There is some question about whether he landed at the Bahía de Gibara or another spot, but local residents are convinced this was the place. Long after Columbus, it became known as Villa Blanca and “Pearl of the East” for its location in eastern Cuba. Gibara became an important sugar trading port during the colonial era, from which some buildings remain. We will walk through the main town square and check in to the hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, enjoy local favorites plus choice of Cuban soft drink, bottled water, and espresso; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. After a long day of travel, rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.

DAY
3
North Coast, Puerto Padre, People to People
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Walking up to 1/2 mile at a time and standing; varied terrain.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the self-serve buffet includes cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice and eggs cooked to order served at the table, coffee, tea.

Morning: We will set out with our local Cuban expert to explore the north coast. We’ll learn about the importance of the area and its mills that connected to the coast by railway for export by sea to America. We’ll also meet workers in a sugar mill (built in 1910) that is considered the largest sugarcane producing factory in the country. We’ll visit the charming little town of Puerto Padre that was the birthplace of two internationally known jazz players: Emiliano Salvador, considered the father of Latin Jazz; and Juan Pablo Torres, one of the world greatest trombone players in the 20th century. We’ll meet jazz musicians of today to hear their music and stories. Returning to the countryside, we’ll visit an agro-ecological farm to learn about its sustainable farming practices.

Lunch: At the farm, enjoy delicious meal featuring local products.

Afternoon: We’ll return to Gibara in the late afternoon with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In a paladar a short walk from the hotel, enjoy a typical Cuban meal. “Paladares” are distinctively Cuban private restaurants.

Evening: At leisure. Perhaps you’ll do as the locals, and go for a stroll through town, and stop in to hear some live music or entertainment.

DAY
4
Casa de la Cultura, Youth Music & Dance Groups, Free Time
Gibara
B,L
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; paved streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll walk through the center of town to the Casa de la Cultura — Culture House — for People to People interactions with young Cubans. First, we’ll meet young adults in a dance group, then youth learning to play the guitar. We’ll discuss their community projects with the instructors and chat with these young people to learn about their training, their hopes, and dreams for the future.

Lunch: In a local paladar.

Afternoon: Free Time. Gibara is easily walkable. You might like to stroll through town or walk along the beach front where fishing boats bring in the daily catch. Wherever you go, you will have opportunities to engage one-on-one with local people.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. A list of privately owned restaurants will be provided and the Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Cigar Factory, Graphic Arts Co-op, Music Rehearsal, Clinic
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; paved streets, uneven curbs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our first People to People connection this morning will be with workers in a cigar factory, where we’ll learn why Cuban cigars are world famous. Next, we’ll head to a graphic arts cooperative for People to People contact with the artists. < We’ll then drive into the center of Holguín town—officially San Isidore de Holguin Cuba — to meet with workers and artists at a unique paper and typesetting workshop that uses equipment from the early 20th century.

Lunch: In a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll attend a rehearsal at the school of the Teatro Lírico and hear music being prepared for upcoming performances. We’ll conclude our day of People to People connections at a small neighborhood clinic to discuss the care provided by the nurses and how the healthcare system works in Cuba. Returning to Gibara, we’ll have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In a paladar, we’ll enjoy a dinner featuring local specialties including seafood.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Transfer to Santiago de Cuba, El Cobre Sanctuary, El Morro
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Our motorcoach trip is about 110 miles, approximately 3.5 hours, with a rest stop en route. In El Morro, walking and standing up to 1 hour; cobblestone pavement, uneven steps without railing; hot, humid conditions.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and set out on our journey inland through Holguín province and on to Santiago de Cuba. En route, we’ll stop at El Cobre Sanctuary, dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Virgen de la Caridad — Our Lady the Virgin of Charity — Cuba’ patron saint. It has been said that the single symbol capable of uniting Cubans is the Virgin of Charity. Pilgrims from all over Cuba come to El Cobre to pray and ask for favors of the country’s most cherished saint, who’s statue was discovered in 1615 according to popular tradition.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arriving in Santiago de Cuba, we’ll explore the 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.” This multi-level stone fortress built into the rocky promontory of El Morro has guarded the entrance to Santiago de Cuba Bay since 1638. We’ll then proceed to the hotel for a late afternoon check-in.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a buffet dinner.

Evening: At leisure. It has been another full day. Enjoy the resort atmosphere, a lovely setting for after-dinner conversations with your Road Scholar companions.

DAY
7
San Juan Hill, José Martí, People to People, Velazquez House
Santiago de Cuba
B,L
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The center of Santiago is inaccessible by coach. Visits today are outdoors or in historical buildings with no air-conditioning. Walking up to 1 miles; cobblestone and busy city streets, narrow sidewalks, high curbs; standing in museum, access to second floor only by stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin with a field trip to San Juan Hill, where monuments commemorate the battalions who fought here. Moving on to the Cementario Santa Ifigenia, we’ll learn about some of Cuba’s heroes and notables buried there including José Martí (1853–95), a poet, journalist, and revolutionary philosopher regarded as a national hero for giving his life in the fight for Cuban independence. The lyrics of the folk song “Guantanamera” were adapted from his poetry! For our next People to People Connection, we’ll watch the exhilarating dance of Afro-Cuban Cutumba, set to the beat of lively drumming. We’ll meet the dancers and learn how they train.

Lunch: Light lunch in the center of Santiago’s historic district.

Afternoon: At the Diego Velasquez House, the oldest standing house in Cuba, we’ll trace the city’s history. We’ll also learn about Santeria during a lecture by an interpretive practitioner, who researches how and why people practice the religion.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Guantanamo City, Tumba Francesa
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The drive to Guantanamo is about 55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, each way. Walking up to 1/2 mile. The U.S. military base of Guantanamo is in a different location and is neither accessible nor visible.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll head out for a full day field trip to the city of Guantanamo, founded by Catalan (Spanish) and French colonists who eventually intermingled with native people and African slaves. The area’s deep-rooted musical and dance traditions were also influenced by Franco-Haitian immigrants. People to People Connection with La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with the dancers 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 Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French court dance. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. People to People Connection with the 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, we’ll meet a local artist and learn about his work and inspiration. Return to Santiago.

Dinner: In a local paladar, we’ll have a farewell dinner to share our favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: Prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Return Flight to Miami, Program Concludes
Depart Cuba
B

Activity note: The walk from the arrival gate to US Immigrations and the baggage claim inside the building is approximately 10-15 minutes. Assistance may be requested only upon check in for the return flight, in Santiago.

Breakfast: Boxed breakfast to go.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to the airport for our return flight to Miami. Flight times are subject to change and will be reconfirmed by the Group Leader. Please do not make any onward flight connections out of Miami less than three hours after your scheduled arrival from Cuba, due to possible delays with the flight and amount of time it takes to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration and check in for onward connections. Upon arrival in Miami, if you have connecting flights, claim your luggage, clear U.S. Immigration and Customs then make your way to the transfer desks to recheck your luggage and secure boarding passes. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!