Havana and Cienfuegos, Cuba

Dec 09, 2017 - Harmony V

We woke up to an overcast sky with heavy showers throughout the morning and early afternoon.  After breakfast, our group of travelers got on the bus to visit the revolutionary museum located in the heart of old Havana.  Two buildings make up the museum, the northern structure named the Presidential Palace was the house and seat of the president of Cuba until 1959 and so it houses much of the original furniture from previous presidents.  Our Cuban guide Edgar guided the group and provided insight into the history of the building and showed the bullets that still remain on the wall, testimony of a first attempt to overthrow the government that failed.  Although this building is now a museum, it is the second floor that holds much of the artifacts and furniture from history.  Exiting the building to the south and across an open area we find the second half of the museum that is dedicated to elements from the revolution.  At center state is the Grama boat which carried Fidel and around 80 rebels from Mexico to Cuba in an early attempt to overthrow the government.  Surrounding this protected structure, we found jeeps, tanks, planes and other elements left over from the war, a testament of the history and struggle of the rebellion that finally ended in an overthrow of the Batista government and the installation of the socialist state in Cuba.

The group gathered back at the National Hotel and boarded two buses that took us to Cienfuegos, some 3 hours away on the main east/west highway.  During the trip we listened to our Cuban guide as he explained the everyday life of the local people – their work, life and struggle.  There was much interaction with many questions from our US visitors who wanted to know intricate details of what it is to live in Cuba in the present.  After a brief stop at Fiesta Camprestre for lunch, we continued our journey towards the beautiful city of Cienfuegos. 

The sleepy city of Cienfuegos is a gem in the south-central coast of Cuba.  Well known as a center for music and art we paid a visit to the city museum located next to Parque Marti, where we had the extraordinary pleasure of listening to the angelic voices of the Cienfuegos Choir (Cantores de Cienfuegos).  Perhaps one of the highlights of the trip up to now; they sang traditional, classical and modern tunes that were truly enjoyed by the group.  Following our visit to the Choir, we were led to the port where we embarked Harmony V for the first time.  We were welcomed by the crew and later had dinner onboard.  A long and remarkable journey; leaving the big city of Havana for the peaceful countryside and our journey onboard Harmony V had begun.

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About the Author

Fabio Amador

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Fabio (Fe) Amador is a Senior Program Officer for the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, which is dedicated to funding exploratory research around the world. He has traveled and worked extensively throughout Latin America and is presently collaborating with research projects in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Peru, El Salvador, and Madagascar. He has also traveled regularly to Cuba over the past five years on educational and scientific missions for National Geographic. As a trained archaeologist, his interest in Taino Indian culture (which spanned the Greater Antilles, including Cuba) is focused on the sacred landscape and the use of caves for ritual activity. In his role at National Geographic, Fabio uses imaging and visualization technologies to provide new ways of capturing data and to document the experience of conducting research and exploration. His initiative in supporting worldwide research has resulted in a workshop titled The Art of Communicating Science. This capacity building initiative is aimed at students, scholars, explorers, government agencies, and stewards of the cultural and natural patrimony, so that they can be trained in how to develop, design and use imaging technology to document, protect, and communicate the importance of their heritage through exploration, discovery, and storytelling. Fe's continued effort in communicating science has allowed him to use photography, cinematography, and other multimedia tools to reach large audiences through his public lectures at universities, presentations at international scientific and professional symposia, publications in scholarly journals and on National Geographic’s Explorers Journal and NatGeo News Watch online blogs.

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