Music, Art, and Culture of Cuba

I'll be leading a delegation to Cuba through the Ministry of Culture for an exchange with Cuban artists, musicians, and cultural figures. Let me know if you are interested in joining! This is my tentative itinerary: 

Monday, December 26:
Depart U.S. and head to our destination
Our adventure begins as we board our flight and head to Havana, Cuba. Depending on flight availability, we may have a stopover here in the US or abroad. If it is an overnight stopover, we will check into a hotel, in order to be as well rested as possible for the continuation of our flight to Havana.

Tuesday, December 27: Arrive in Havana, Cuba
Today we will continue our journey to Havana, Cuba. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel, enjoy a welcome dinner as a group, and take some time to rest-up for the exciting days ahead.

Wednesday, December 28th: Havana Lecture on Cuba’s Colonial History.
Our first full day in Havana starts with a walking tour to get a feel for the city and capture the rhythm of Old Havana. In the afternoon we will travel to Guanabacoa across the river. We will have lunch at an urban farm on a ruined rooftop. Then we will visit the Museum of Afro-Cuban culture, which has an international reputation due to its extensive collection related to Afro-Cuban religions. This is key to understanding Cuban culture. In the evening we will visit a local Babalao, a high priest in the Yoruba religion who will bless our journey and introduce us to this important aspect of Cuban culture; we will also go to an open air café to listen to Cuban music. 

Thursday, December 29: Havana - Guanabacoa - Havana
Afro-Cuban Religions.
In the morning we will go on a tour of the Museo de Bellas Artes with a Cuban art history expert. You will be surprised to see some of the “controversial” pieces displayed in this National museum. We will have lunch along the Malecon at the Soviet-themed restaurant “Nazdarovie,” then visit Kcho. Kcho’s gallery and cultural center provides free internet access and hosts Kcho’s private collection of Wilfredo Lam artwork as well as a gallery of Kcho’s art. It also has a techno-art center and community theater. Kcho’s gallery security guard goose takes car of Kcho’s car when he is not using it. Kcho uses the money from selling his artwork to invest on community projects such as converting empty lots into playgrounds. We will then have dinner at the home of famous Cuban artist Fuster, who has converted his house and whole neighborhood into a living mosaic art piece.

Friday, December 30: Las Terrazas
Day trip to Las Terrazas.
We will head out to the Sierra del Rosaio United Nations designated biosphere in Pinar del Rio. We will start out at the visitors center for a welcome cocktail and brief history of how the once deforested area was transformed into a flourishing tropical reserve. We will then visit the Las Terrazas community (a utopian village) and have a farm to table lunch at the eco-restaurant, El Romero influenced by the slow food movement in the US. Walking distance are two art galleries including hand-made paper and painter Ariel and world-renowned painter Take a short drive to beautiful Soroa and tour a small organic medicinal plant farm run by a mother and son and enjoy fresh fruit juice from the farm ($1). Then just a few kilometers down the road taste locally grown food made from traditional recipes handed down from Haitian slaves and taste homemade cordials and learn about the local Afro-Cuban traditions.  Dinner here is not included but will be $10 for home-made traditional afro-Haitian food and drinks.

Saturday, December 31: Santa Clara – Zulueta - Remedios
Travel to Santa Clara to view the monument to Che Guevara. We will have lunch on a small family farm.   Travel to Remedios and celebrate New Year’s Eve with Parrandas in Zulueta, a traditional carnaval celebration to ring in the New Year complete with homemade fireworks. Stay in Remedios.

Sunday, Jan 1: Day Trip – Cayo Las Brujas – beach time
Spend the day at the beach on a small island key off the Northern coast of Cuba in the Caribbean sea, decompress, reflect, and recharge. 

Monday, Jan 2: Santa Isabel de las Lajas – Cienfuegos
The legacy of Benny More.
We will honor the great Cuban singer Benny More by placing flowers on his grave site, visiting the Benny More Museum, and Casino Congo, a temple of the Palo Monte religion, where Benny More was himself initiated, and talk to townspeople (many of them relatives of More) about this local hero in Santa Isabel de Las Lajas, and then off to the city of Cienfuegos. We will visit the Maroya Cultural Center to view beautiful handicrafts, meet local artists and hear a lecture from a local art expert. In the evening we will listen to the group Los Naranjos, a son band that has been active for six decades.

Tuesday, Jan 3: Cienfuegos - Bay of Pigs - Havana
Today we cross the island to Playa Girón to see the museum that documents the Bay of Pigs invasion. We will have a long lunch at Caleta Buena, a beautiful spot with snorkeling and swimming in a protected lagoon full of tropical fish and coral. Then back to Havana and more music.

Wednesday Jan 4La Colmenita
Free morning, with options including Visit the Museum of the Revolution, Casa de Las Americas, or shopping.  Then La Colmenita, as well as the studios of local artists. La Colmenita is a children’s musical theater group whose purpose is to convey a message of peace, humanity and forgiveness. The children in the troupe are UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, and are required to demonstrate these values in both their performance and their daily lives. 

Thursday Jan 5: Havana - San Francisco
Bid “adios” to Cuba and board our return flight for the U.S.

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change!

If you are interested please fill out this form: