This program explores the complex history and unique culture that makes Cuba such a fascinating nation today. Through daily readings, lectures, discussions, and visits to historical sites, we will gain insight into the daily life experienced on the street corners of Havana and Santiago. Students will study Cuban history in a Caribbean context as well as relations between Cuba and the United States from the 19th century onwards with a view towards furthering these positive developments. The program will focus mostly on the history of Cuba, first as part of the pre-Columbian Taino civilization, and then as part of the larger Spanish Caribbean Empire. Students will visit numerous historical sites in Havana and Santiago where much of the Cuban and U.S.-Cuban history unfolded. Through simple interactions with street vendors to viewing museums and historic locations in two of Cuba's greatest cities, we will find ourselves walking in the footsteps of conquistadors and revolutionaries as we explore what drives the Cuban people today and where their future may be headed.
Tentative Itinerary for January 2019- all items subject to change, including portion in Santiago.
Tuesday, January 1
Group flies into Miami on various flights, overnight hotel stay (TBD).
Wednesday, January 2
10:30 am Depart Miami for Holguin on AA flight 1041, arriving at 12:05 pm. Depart for Santiago, the capital of Cuba’s southeastern Santiago de Cuba province, facing a bay off the Caribbean Sea, is known for colonial architecture, Afro-Cuban culture, and revolutionary history.
3:30 pm Check-in at bed and breakfasts, known as “casas particulares,” or “private homes.” Since the 1990s Cuban families have been permitted to rent rooms out of their family homes to foreigners.
5:30 pm Discussion with a historian about the Spanish Colonization in Cuba.
7 pm Welcome dinner at Restaurat Setos Cuba, a privately-owned restaurant (paladar) in Vista Alegre neighborhood.
Thursday, January 3
9 am Visit to Parque Cespedes and Museo de Arte Colonial, the residence of Diego Velazquez.
11 am Visit the Moncada Barracks, where the first armed assault of the Revolution took place. Led by Fidel Castro, a group of 90 men took to the Barracks on July 26, 1953 to attack the second largest military on the island. Outnumbered 10 to 1, Fidel Castro and his men were defeated in the assault. Despite the defeat, once in power Fidel converted the Barracks into a school and established part of the building as the 26 of July Historical Museum.
12:30 pm Lunch at El Madrileño Restaurant, set in a beautiful patio of a Vista Alegre home.
2 pm Visit the site of The Battle of San Juan Hill, a decisive battle of the Spanish–American War that took place in the San Juan heights, a north-south running elevation about 2 km east of Santiago de Cuba. We will also stop by the nearby cemetery where the U.S dead soldiers were buried after the battle.
4 pm Enjoy a performance by La Tumba Francesa, declared cultural intangible heritage by the UNESCO, it is a traditional dance and musical style that emerged in the 18th century in Eastern Cuba. It combines music from West Africa and traditional French music. "Tumba" derives from "tambours", which is French for drums. It is one of several Haitian drumming styles that produce a very infectious beat, often accompanied by trumpets, the instrument responsible for the distinctive Cuban sound.
5 pm Class meeting.
Friday, January 4
8:30 am Check-out of hotel.
9 am Visit Santiago’s most famous landmark, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, lined in white marble. Cuban national hero, Jose Marti, is buried here as well as the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro. We will receive a tour from Cemetery Staff followed by an interactive discussion.
9:45 am Depart for Camagüey, a beautiful colonial city in the center of the island.
12 pm On the way, visit to Bayamo, the capital city of the Granma province of Cuba, and one of the country’s most important historic cities. Take a walking tour of the city’s historic center, including the Parque Céspedes and the Iglesia San Salvador Parroquial.
12:45 pm Enjoy lunch at a local paladar.
2 pm Continue on to Camagüey.
5 pm Arrival. Check in at casas particulares.
Saturday, January 5
9 am Tour the historic center of Camagüey, a UNESCO World Heritage site. (Bicycle Taxi tour) We will be joined by a local historian.
12 pm Lunch at Restaurant 1800, located in Plaza San Juan de Dios, one of the most emblematic and charming spaces of the historic center.
1:30 pm Get a glimpse into the local art community and learn about the history of renowned artists like: potter Nazario Salazar, plastic artist Orestes Larios, and Martha Jiménez, arguably Camaguey’s most famous artist. Martha is a sculptress, ceramist and painter and her work revolves around the role of women in the Cuban society and around the world. She has contributed in a decisive way to the change of image of the city with live demonstrations of pottery, illustrations in canvas paintings, ceramic tiles and other forms.
4 pm Class meeting.
Sunday, January 6
8:30 am Check-out and depart for Trinidad, a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its cobble stoned streets, pastel colored homes and small-town feel.
1 pm Arrival. Enjoy lunch at Paladar San José, a nice restaurant with a diverse menu featuring everything from lobster to pizza.
2:30 pm Check in at casas particulares.
4:30 pm Walking tour of the historic center with Nancy Benitez, a local architect, historian and restoration specialist. Ms. Benitez will provide an overview of the city’s history from an architectural, economic and infrastructural point of view. Along the way, meet with local artists and budding entrepreneurs, including: painter and antiques collector Carlos Mata, ceramic artist Alejandro Bastida, jeweler Orbein and an embroidery shop, a cooperative of local women.
Monday, January 7
9 am Depart for the Sugar Mills Valley.
9:20 am Visit to the archeological site San Isidro de los Destiladeros, near the city of Trinidad, it was a typical sugar plantation, operated with slave labor in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Remnants of this thriving and historically underappreciated industrial heritage survive: an impressive owner's house, three-story tower, cistern, main sugar factory, ancillary buildings, and dikes. Almost all are in ruins or in imminent danger of collapse. We will discuss about sugar cane in Cuba and slavery.
10:30 am Return to the city center.
Free time - lunch on your own
4 pm Class meeting.
6 pm Enjoy a music performance by Trova Duo Cofradia. Discussion with musicians Lia and Pachi about the Trova movement in Cuba followed by a private performance.
7:30 pm Dinner at Los Conspiradores paladar, located at the foot of the main plaza and the lively Casa de la Musica.
Tuesday, January 8
8:30 am Check-out and depart to Havana.
Visit to Morro Castle, one of the earliest constructed and most important Spanish forts in the Americas, and the former headquarter of Che Guevara, a museum and cultural center since 1970.
1 pm Arrival. Enjoy a tasty welcome lunch at Divina Pastora paladar. The view of the Havana skyline from across the Bay is unbeatable Tasty Cuban food served family style with a great view of the Havana sea wall and the old Spanish fortress.
2:30 pm Discussion with Cristina Escobar, a news journalist, political commentator and one of the most visible figures on Havana television. Cristina has been covering the latest developments in U.S.Cuba relations.
4 pm Check in at casas particulares.
Wednesday, January 9
8:30 am Class meeting.
10:30 am Walking tour of the Old City. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana as well as important monuments. See the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral and the Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.
12:30 pm Lunch at La Makina Gastro Bar, located near the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Fine Arts in the heart of Old Havana, it is known for the exquisite cuisine dishes and a charming ambiance.
2 pm Socio-economic discussion with urban planner Miguel Coyula, whose presentation will touch on housing, infrastructure, investment and restoration programs. It’s bound to leave you with a better understanding of why Havana looks the way it does today and possibilities moving forward.
3:30 pm Visit to the Museum of the Revolution, which holds hundreds of artifacts from pre and postrevolutionary times and highlights the tense relationship between the U.S. and Cuba
5 pm Meeting with Roberto Salas, one of Cuba’s most successful photographers who documented the stories of Cuba, the saga of its revolution and the life of its enigmatic leader.
Thursday, January 10
8:30 am Class meeting.
11 am Visit to the Law Faculty at the University of Havana for a discussion about legal issues pertaining to the U.S. embargo and economic reform in Cuba.
12:30 pm Lunch in China Town with historian Maria Teresa Montes de Oca, a specialist on the Chinese community in Cuba. First visit is to Federacion Casino Chung Wah, principle center of the Chinese community in Cuba followed by a visit to la Sociedad Lung Kong Cun Sol, which features the ancestry altar and an adult education class.
2:30 pm Visit to the Museum of Cuban Art. We will be accompanied by Nelson Herrera, an art historian, who will provide an overview of Cuban art and artists over the last four centuries.
4:30 pm Discussion with Giulio Ricci, Cuban economist, about the current process of economic reform. He will share his views on the Cuban governments “updating” of the economic model. At the hotel
Friday, January 11
9 am Visit a policlinic to learn about the health care system. We will receive a tour of a typical neighborhood health clinic and have the chance to ask questions to doctors, nurses and patients.
11 am Private tour of Christopher Colon Cemetery, one of the oldest and most prestigious cemeteries in Latin America. Here you will learn about the early Republican years and see the extravagant mausoleums of Cuba’s founding families.
Lunch on your own
3 pm Final class meeting.
7:30 pm Farewell dinner at Paladar Atelier. This restaurant is equally known for its atmosphere and exquisite cuisine. Enjoy a discussion about private business in Cuba with Niruys Higueras, Atelier’s owner, and the founders of A La Mesa, a Yelp-like application offering restaurant information and reservations.
Saturday, January 12
Check-out and depart for airport.
11:45 am Depart Havana for Miami on AA flight 1334, arriving at 1 pm.