March 3, 2021 § Leave a comment
As many of you reading this will know, I’ve had a decades-long engagement with Cuba. The country has been something of obsession for me since 1999, when I was fortunate enough to scout and lead the first U.S. student travel program to visit the island since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. It possesses a sui generis mystique that’s impossible to fully express, a combination of living history, sensory opulence, cultural and artistic magnificence, and hard-to-read political undercurrents that I find endlessly fascinating. The pandemic, meanwhile, terrible as it has been, has given all of us time out to reflect, and also to recharge our curiosity in terms of getting back out into the world.
Evenings on the Malecón.
SPECIAL NOTE: DUE TO THE CONTINUING PANDEMIC, THESE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FALL ’22 AND/OR SPRING ’23. Please send a quick note using the contact form if you want to add your name to the list of interested parties!
Nov 28 – Dec 5, 2021: Havana, Cienfuegos, Playa Larga
This highly enjoyable and culturally rich trip will be of special interest to creative types: artists, writers, musicians, dancers, photographers—along with their families, and really anyone who is interested in being exposed to the vibrant and ubiquitous creative life of central/western Cuba.
We’ll be dropping in on music and dance groups and community arts projects, visiting with painters and sculptors in their homes and studios, hitting a few spots on the Hemingway trail, eating at some of Cuba’s most interesting paladares, and enjoying time on our own to sample Havana’s great music scene in the evenings.
What makes the trip special is the opportunity to touch base with an extensive network of talented, luminous Cuban artists, writers, musicians, dancers—many of whom are personal friends whom I haven’t seen in too long.
And we’ll be finishing with several days in the pleasant Caribbean town of Playa Larga, with good access to beaches, snorkeling, and world-class birdwatching in Ciénega de Zapata National Park.
April 9 – 17, 2022: Central Cuba Road Trip: Havana, Trinidad, and other sites TBD
Of the probably 40 or 50 trips I’ve made to Cuba, one of my favorites was a month-long writing program for students, in which we started in Santiago and ended in Havana with an extended road trip across the entire island in between. This shorter version will begin and end in Havana, but will get us out to some of the fascinating and very lightly visited central regions of the island east of Havana.
Suitable for people who’ve either been to the island before and/or are ready for a more off-the-beaten track adventure. In addition to Havana and Trinidad, we’ll be tapping the knowledge of longstanding local contacts to explore lesser-known rural areas, including places that don’t get many foreign visitors.
The exact itinerary is TBD, but we’ll be focusing on natural areas, community projects, Santería, and organic agriculture.
In my experience the best adventures come with a generous dose of the unknown – which can mean periods of wasted time, travel on sometimes slow roads, and an occasional activity that doesn’t pan out exactly as expected—but with the advantage of spontaneous opportunities that may arise and the opportunity to meet and interact with new Cuban friends along the way!
Special Note on private trips:
I encourage you to explore the idea of setting up a custom small-group trip for friends/family, which is generally quite possible if you have between 3 and 12 people interested. It’s actually a surprisingly affordable way to go, and I’m happy to discuss it with you without any obligation if you’re interested. Just send me a message!
PPS. For those interested in writing programs, I direct the Newport MFA’s winter residency in Havana, Jan 2-9, 2022, which is open to writers outside the program, along with non-writing significant others & family members!
May 2, 2019 § 2 Comments
Pleased to report the appearance of a new travel essay, “Cuba After Fidel,” out in Wanderlust: The Best of 2019 Anthology.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
“At dusk on the evening of November 29, 2016, three days after the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death, I set off on foot with a small group of friends to Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for a memorial rally attended by perhaps half a million people. It was not good planning but simple dumb luck that I’d booked a flight to Havana a few days after the revolutionary leader’s death, just as the official mourning period was getting underway. I was determined to take advantage. As a frequent visitor to Cuba since the late nineties, and in light of the diametrically conflicting narratives surrounding the revolutionary leader’s life, I’ve struggled to come to a satisfactory conclusion about Fidel Castro. This trip seemed to present an excellent opportunity to find out how the Cubans themselves felt about him—not the exiles celebrating in the streets of Miami, whose feelings were clear enough, but those Cubans who’d spent most or all of their lives in the society he’d presided over and shaped.”
If you’re a fan of travel writing and/or want to read on, you can buy the anthology here.