Announcing new travel programs

September 1, 2022 § 1 Comment

In the works are several new small-group trips abroad:

November 30 – December 7, 2022: Informal “Family & Friends” trip to Cuba (Havana, Cienfuegos, Playa Larga – contact by email for more info)

January 7 – 15, 2023: Newport MFA Writing Workshop in Cuba (Havana & Playa Larga: open to non-MFA writers on a first-come, first served basis)

April 10 – 17, 2023: Art & Cuisine of Oaxaca, Mexico (further details will be posted here when they’re available)

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these travel programs, just shoot me an email or use the contact page .

If none of these work with your schedule but this kind of trip IS of interest and you don’t want to wait another year (more or less) for one of these update emails to hit your inbox, please feel free bookmark the frequently updated “Upcoming” page.

To explore ideas about creating custom trips for small groups of family, friends, educational institutions, etc, again, just reply to this email or send me a note through the “Contact” page.

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Save the dates: Cuba trips planned for Fall ’21 and Winter ’22

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!

New Cuba travel essay out

May 2, 2019 § 2 Comments

41-0VuAsR0L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_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.

New Cuba/writing essay up at Cleaver

June 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

Turning-out-the-lights“The blackout was a revelation. It happened at around eight PM, in Trinidad, Cuba, on one of those moonless tropical nights that fall so suddenly you barely notice the dusk. This was several years ago—before the loosening of travel regulations that occurred under President Obama—and the number of American tourists remained small . . . At the time of the occurrence described in this essay, I was traveling to the country with cultural tourism groups at least half a dozen times a year.”

Click here to read the full essay.

National Geographic Student Expeditions in Cuba

July 1, 2016 § 2 Comments

DSC04327Very excited to be participating in the first ever NatGeo student programs to Cuba. I’ll be starting out with the first group toward the end of their program in the province of Santa Clara, a few hours east of the capital, and then joining the second group for the beginning of their program in Havana. Traveling to Cuba, by now, feels something akin to going home for me. It’s been a few months, so I’m looking forward to checking in on the evolving situation!

IMG_8931I’m also excited to be traveling with student groups, because leading student groups is how I spent most of my early career in educational travel. I relish the sense of adventure that usually arises within such groups—and in my experience NatGeo students are an exceptionally positive, creative, and intellectually curious bunch. It will be hot this time of year, but that’s nothing to worry about, as we’ll be on an island surrounded by crystalline blue water!

New: Customized Independent Trips to Cuba

March 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

CURRENTLY BOOKING TRIPS FOR WINTER ’21 AND BEYOND  – Hey everybody, recent changes in US law now make it possible for individuals to travel to Cuba without signing on with a tour group. This is an exciting development because it can now be done more affordably than ever, at your own pace, and according to your own interests. You DO need to make arrangements in advance, however—and in order to avoid falling into the well-grooved touristic route it’s a very good idea to seek expert advice. And, well, that’s where I come in!

IMG_0277If you’ve been meaning to get to Cuba, but don’t like the idea of being on a tour group and/or don’t want to spend a fortune doing it, click here to read all about letting me help you up a customized independent trip.

Hemingway talk at the Brattleboro Museum

August 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Thrilled to be giving this talk at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, next Thursday, September 3, at 7pm. If you’re in the neighborhood, I’d love to see you there!

Ernest_Hemingway_and_Others_with_Marlin_July,_1934_-_NARA_-_192675The Expatriate Novelist: Hemingway in Spain and Cuba

“Drawing upon his extensive experience in Spain and Cuba, novelist and travel guide Tim Weed gives a vividly illustrated talk on author Ernest Hemingway’s life in the two countries he loved most, with particular reference to the influence of place and culture on Hemingway’s fiction. This talk will be of interest to writers, travelers, Hemingway readers, and anyone interested in learning more about BMAC’s upcoming ARTravel programs in Spain and Cuba. Admission is free.”

Vermont Humanities Council Speakers Bureau

June 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

After a somewhat harrowing audition process, I’m pleased to report that I’ve been invited to join the Vermont Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau! Here’s the title and description of my talk:

IMG_0366A Playground for Empire: Historical Perspectives on Cuba and the U.S.A. Spain lost Cuba in 1898, after nearly 400 years of colonial rule. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 is one of the great underdog stories in modern history, in which a tiny band of young rebels prevailed against all odds and despite the ambivalence of the world superpower only ninety miles to the north. This nationalist Revolution quickly fell under the sway of another world empire, the USSR, and Cuba’s previously close ties with the U.S. were abruptly severed. This visually rich lecture by a long-time observer of the island will highlight recent changes in light of Cuba’s long struggle for sovereignty.

If you belong to any nonprofit organization or municipality in Vermont, you can book this talk through the VHC. Link here for instructions, which should be updated with VHC’s new catalog soon. If you’re interested in booking talks on a different subject, please feel free to contact me directly.

New Cuba travel article out

March 15, 2015 § 3 Comments

630x355A new article about the changes on the ground in Cuba, based on observations made during my recent National Geographic Expeditions trip to the island, is up at TravelPulse. Take a look.

A Return to the New Cuba

February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

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The Capitolio swathed in scaffolding. Interested to see the progress . . .

After an eight month absence, I’m heading back to Havana. Much has happened in the intervening time, and it will be fascinating to see how these events are reflected in the reality on the ground. Whatever the case, Cuba is always an engaging and exciting place to be, so I’m looking forward to the trip.

I’ll be accompanying a National Geographic group, where my duties include, among other things, delivering a three-part lecture series: on Spanish colonial Cuba and the historic roots of the U.S.-Cuba  relationship; on 20th century Cuba and the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution; and on Hemingway’s three decades in Cuba. The group will spend time in Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and various interesting points in between, meeting with scores of wonderful Cubans, including many new friends and some old friends and contacts!

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With a friendly and engaging Nat Geo group last year

If you’re reading this and find yourself yearning to travel to Cuba to see what all the fuss is about, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve got several affordable private trips in the works for the fall of 2015 and the late winter/spring of 2016, and the chances are there is still an opening!

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