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22143
Cuba

The Best of Cuba: People, Life and Culture: Havana to Camagüey

Get a unique perspective into Cuba's vibrant culture through interactions with locals, musical and dance performances and artist visits alongside the experts.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22143RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
3,599
Cuba

The Best of Cuba: People, Life and Culture: Havana to Camagüey

Get a unique perspective into Cuba's vibrant culture through interactions with locals, musical and dance performances and artist visits alongside the experts.
Length
11 days
Starts at
3,599
Program No. 22143 RJ
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At a Glance

Gain a sense of the past and experience the quickly changing present in the queen of central Cuba — Camaguey — the colonial gem of Trinidad, the tranquil, historic town of Remedios and the capital city of Havana on this in-depth cultural exchange with Cuban people. Enjoy beloved Cuban passions and pastimes such as dominoes, art, music and dance as you discover what this island nation has to offer with the locals.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Engage in authentic Cuban passions as you learn to play dominoes with locals and enjoy traditional dance performed by a private dance company.
  • In Camagüey, visit a family owned and operated ranch to learn about the roles on the ranch and enjoy a traditional meal.
  • Visit a local artist at his workshop and studio in Trinidad to learn about his unique creations made from wood.

General Notes

Round-trip flight from Miami to Cuba is included. Road Scholar offers opportunities to travel legally to Cuba under the new OFAC Regulations published June 5, 2019. Following the General License category “Support for the Cuban People,” Road Scholar programs include activities intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Each day's program promotes independence for the Cuban people and results in meaningful interactions with the Cuban people. Questions about traveling to Cuba? Road Scholar has your answers. Learn more: www.roadscholar.org/cubafaqs.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Without Fidel
by Ann Louise Bardach
A PEN award-winning journalist who has covered Cuba for 15 years, Bardach (Cuba Confidential) brings knowledge, tenacity and verve to this report on the future of the country.
Cuba, Art and History from 1868 to Today
by Natha Bondil (Editor)
With ravishing color reproductions of murals, posters, paintings and photographs, this magnificent book documents the history of art in Cuba from independence.
Cuba, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Ann Louise Bardach
Bardach (Without Fidel) samples terrific contemporary writers for this anthology, organized geographically.
Cuba
by Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen
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.
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
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.
Havana, A Cultural and Literary Companion
by Claudia Lightfoot
An illuminating guide to the city, its history and geography, as the inspiration for writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals.
The Sugar King of Havana
by John Paul Rathbone
John Paul Rathbone recounts "elegant, decadent and whirligig years" of pre-revolutionary Havana and the dramatic life of Julio Lobo, the richest man in Cuba (until Castro’s revolution did away with such men). Surviving assassin's bullets and making and losing two fortunes, Cuba's last tycoon went from glittering man about town in pre-Revolutionary Havana -- and one of the world's richest men -- to solitary exile in Spain. With a mother that traveled in those same circles in Havana, Rathbone brings depth and the perspective of an insider to this fantastic story.
Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know
by Julia Sweig
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.
Dreaming in Cuban
by Cristina Garcia
A short, poetic novel of three generations of Cuban women, their reaction to the revolution and the complex relation between those who remained in Cuba and those who settled in the United States. Excellent reading.
Trading with the Enemy
by Tom Miller
Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.
The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics
by Aviva Chomsky (Editor), Barry Carr (Editor), Pamela Maria Smorkaloff (Editor)
Organized chronologically, this multi-faceted portrait of a nation, with most of the selections by Cuban writers, includes not only history, journalism and literature but also songs, paintings, poems and cartoons and speeches.
Moon Handbook Cuba
by Christopher P. Baker
Baker's comprehensive, indispensable guide leaves no stone unturned, covering the natural, cultural and political life of the island with style.
Teachings of the Santeria Gods, The Spirit of the Odu
by Ocha'Ni Lele
Ocha'Ni recounts 100 sacred stories of Santeria, collected from the oral tradition of the African diaspora, ranging from creation myths, to love stories and share the wisdom and spirituality of Yoruba people.
This is Cuba
by Ben Corbett
Corbett interviews everyday people living on the fringe's of Castro's official Cuba for this account, both a stinging indictment of government policy and a testimony to the Cuban spirit.
Cuba Map
by Borch Maps
A detailed, double-sided laminated map at a scale of 1:1,000,000.
Culture Smart! Cuba
by Mandy Macdonald
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
Our Man in Havana
by Graham Greene
The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into cold war espionage with disastrous results.
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11 days
10 nights
25 meals
10 B 8 L 7 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami
D
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center

Activity note: This daily schedule is a representative guide. Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice. Flight times are subject to change by the airlines. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After you check in to the hotel, take your bags to your room. We will gather in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. when the Group Leader will accompany everyone to our meeting room. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. This meeting is essential for all participants. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. The program is staffed by a bilingual Cuban host who will provide educational commentary and be with us throughout, as well as a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. We will also have local experts from time to time who will provide additional information and educational leadership. Our accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that any potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment we will experience. Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it with you on the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “At leisure” offer opportunities to make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for early morning check-out and our flight to Cuba in the morning.

DAY
2
Fly to Havana, Transfer to Cienfuegos, Check-in
Cienfuegos
B,L,D
La Unión Hotel

Activity note: Early morning transfer to airport via hotel shuttle. Luggage will be carried to hotel for you but you must carry your own hand baggage. Getting in/out of a motorcoach; driving about 140 miles, approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel early morning and gather in the lobby with our Group Leader for transfer to the airport via hotel shuttle. Be sure to have everything with you and ready to depart 15 minutes before the scheduled transfer. Upon arrival, we will be met by an experienced, bilingual Cuban host who will be with us for the entire program.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: We’ll board a motorcoach, and begin our journey to Cienfuegos. We will ride to the hotel for check-in with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Hotel buffet

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Exploring Cienfuegos, Vocational School
Cienfuegos
B,L,D
La Unión Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles and standing up to an hour outdoors; pavement, gravel, uneven ground, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll set out with a local expert on a walking field trip in the main square. It is named for José Martí (1853-1895), a journalist and poet who was also a hero of Cuban independence. The historic center is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area, the town first developed in the neoclassical style. It later became more eclectic but retained a harmonious overall townscape.” The city offers outstanding architecture and is home to a large artistic community. We’ll ride on and visit the Vocational School at the City Conservatory. We’ll discuss their professional and daily lives with members of the group.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch we will attend a performance by one of the city's professional musical groups.

Dinner: At a nearby paladar.

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

DAY
4
Transfer to Camaguey, Exploration of Trinidad.
Camagüey
B,L,D
Hotel E Santa Maria

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 220 miles, approximately 6 hours including stops. Walking up to 2 miles and standing approximately 2 hours; pavement, some uneven areas. Most venues are not air-conditioned.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and begin our journey to Trinidad de Cuba. Upon arrival, we’ll take a walking field trip to explore the historic city center, one of the original Spanish Settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trinidad de Cuba is a pristine example of Spanish colonial Caribbean architecture and has just celebrated its 500-year anniversary. During our field trip, we’ll meet with a local artisan who uses abandoned wood from houses to create one-of-a-kind sculptured portraits.

Lunch: At a paladar.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach and continue our ride to Camaguey where we will check-in to the hotel.

Dinner: At a paladar

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Exploring Camagüey, Rural Ranch
Camagüey
B,L
Hotel E Santa Maria

Activity note: Getting on/off pedicabs (bicycle rickshaws) with shared seating; step up 1 to 1.5 feet. Most streets in Camagüey historical district inaccessible to motor coaches; walking up to 2 miles, approximately 10-15 minutes each way between hotel, paladares, some activities. Getting in/out of a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles, approximately 1 hour. At ranch, walking up to 1 mile standing up to 1 hour; unpaved ground.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: From the hotel, we’ll set out on a field trip by pedicabs — each uniquely decorated by a local artist — to explore the main squares, the church, and the city park. Traveling by pedicab provides a close-up introduction to the pulse of the city's streets and residents. To begin, we’ll meet a local leather artist who creates unique carvings that combine nature and Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions. We’ll then board a motorcoach and go to meet a family of artisan ceramicists who make the distinctive urns traditionally used in Camagüey to store water. In addition to their craft, the workshop is beautifully decorated with the family collection of ornamental plants and cacti. Sure to be a highlight of the day, we will experience traditional Cuban country life at Finca Zaragozano — the Zaragozano ranch. We will meet Ququi, the head of the Zaragozano family and his son, the local veterinarian, who will introduce us to the workings of the ranch.

Lunch: At the ranch, we’ll have a meal prepared in the open air kitchen featuring traditional roast pig and side dishes such as tostones, rice and black beans, and more — shared with ranch hands and family members. A great opportunity to practice your Spanish and share a true intercultural exchange.

Afternoon: We will continue to interact with ranch hands as we learn about Cuban agriculture, life in rural areas, family history and family life, and the sense of community the family and its workers share. We’ll then ride to the home — that also serves as a studio/workshop and gallery — of noted artists Joel Jover and Ileana Sanchez, both born in Camagüey. Ileana is an exponent of vibrantly colored works that express “alegría de vivir” while Joel’s art is more expressionistic and his color palette more subdued. Their home is filled with paintings, antiques, books, and curios such as vintage toys. We will enjoy an aperitivo with these prodigiously creative artists before returning to the hotel.

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

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

DAY
6
Flamenco Rehearsal, Sancti Spiritus, Remedios
Remedios
B,L
Hotel Encanto Barcelona

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 190 miles (300 km), approximately 5 hours including stops. Walking up to 2 miles in Sancti Spiritus and standing outdoors; very uneven cobblestone streets; sunny conditions, limited shade

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We begin the day by visiting a Flamenco dance rehearsal, and have the opportunity discuss their professional and daily lives with members of the group. We’ll check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and begin our journey to Remedios. En route, we’ll stop in the city of Sancti Spíritus. One of the original seven Spanish “villas,” it was founded in 1514 in the center of the island.

Lunch: At a Sancti Spíritus paladar.

Afternoon: We’ll reboard the motorcoach and drive on to Remedios, the eighth oldest city in Cuba, founded by the Spanish to serve as a trading port on the route between Havana and Camagüey.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Community Project, City of Parrandas
Remedios
B,L,D
Hotel Encanto Barcelona

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile, standing on pavement; riding in pedicabs for approximately 1/2 hour. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our local Cuban expert, we’ll set out on a walking field trip to begin learning about local legends. We’ll visit the main cigar factory in Remedios to learn about this famous Cuban craft. We’ll also stroll through the main shopping street of Remedios to learn the differences between Ration, Cuban Pesos and CUC stores and consider the complexity of the two-currency system and the cost of living for local people. We’ll meet a local family and visit their home to see how everyday Cubans live. We’ll then meet a local artist who creates the design for one of the parrandas (festivities in the streets) and learn about the history of Remedios including its Christmas festival — Las Parrandas de Remedios — that is one of the most popular events of the region. It takes place on the 24th of December each year. The town, divided in two neighborhoods, spends the entire year preparing for a competition to have the most spectacular float. We’ll visit a workshop to see firsthand the ingenuity of the locals who strive all year to create the most spectacular float.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then ride to visit a community project in Caibarién for an opportunity to engage with local children. We’ll learn how the students reinvent compostable and recycle items to create pieces of art. After, we will stop in to meet a town resident who is a passionate collector of the town’s historic memorabilia. We’ll end the afternoon with a coastal drive.

Dinner: At a paladar.

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

DAY
8
Transfer to Havana, Revolution Square
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles (320 km), approximately 5 hours including stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and begin our drive to Havana.

Lunch: At a paladar en route.

Afternoon: We will continue our ride into Havana stopping at the famous Revolution Square. Next, we will visit the Holocaust Museum that sits within the beautiful Sephardic Synagogue. Here we will walk through the museum and interact with artisans who utilize the services set up by the Synagogue.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Cuban Music, Old Havana, Fine Arts Museum
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing approximately 2 hours through old Havana. Cobblestone streets, uneven terrain. Walking and standing for up to 2 hours in the museum. Some steps and no elevator

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a Cuban musicologist who will discuss the synthesis of diverse traditions that merge harmoniously together to create the distinctive identity of Cuban music. With our local Cuban expert and Group Leader, we’ll set out on a walking field trip in Old Havana, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish. By the 17th century, it had become one of the Caribbean's main centres for ship-building. Although it is today a sprawling metropolis of 2 million inhabitants, its old centre retains an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments, and a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards.” We’ll then board a motorcoach and head out on a field trip to the Museum Nacional de Bellas Arts — the Fine Arts Museum of Havana — where a museum curator will lead our exploration. Cuban art is renowned worldwide. We’ll delve into the stories of how various works of art relate and what they say about politics, culture, and society.

Lunch: At a paladar.

Afternoon: We’ll attend a performance by one of Cuba's preeminent dance companies, then engage in one-on-one discussions with members of the company about their lives and profession.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
U.S.-Cuba Relations, Dominoes
Havana
B,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing approximately 2 hours through old Havana. Cobblestone streets, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll have a presentation on the history of U.S.- Cuba relations with an expert in the field. We’ll gain an understanding of Cuban perspectives on the tumultuous relationship between the two countries, followed by open discussion.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Dominoes, Cuba’s national game, has its own set of rules, played enthusiastically in private and public. More than competition and skill, it is a greatly enjoyed social activity. We’ll meet members of a local dominoes league, learn the Cuban rules, then play with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban, an opportunity to practice a few words in Spanish.

Dinner: At a paladar. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning. The Group Leader will announce check-out time and the time of our transfer to the airport in the morning.

DAY
11
Fly to Miami, Program Concludes
Depart Havana
B

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 12.5 miles (20.2 km), approximately 1/2 hour to airport. The walk from the arrival gate in Miami International Airport to the U.S. Immigration and Customs area is approximately 10-15 minutes. Assistance can be requested at check-in.

Breakfast: Boxed breakfast.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to the Havana airport. This concludes our 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!






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