Isle of Youth, Cuba

Dec 13, 2017 - Harmony V

We awoke in the sleepy harbor of Siguanea Bay under a beautiful clear sky as our day of exploration started in the Isle of Youth.  We boarded a local boat that brought us to shore.  The Isle of Youth is hardly developed and scantly populated.  There are stories of this island’s enchantment to have inspired many throughout history because of it’s beauty and remoteness.  Our party departed on a local bus to our first destination: the infamous Modelo Prison.  This prison, built in 1939, housed thousands of prisoners, but perhaps the most famous was Fidel Castro himself.  The large rounded buildings now abandoned served as a perfect backdrop to spectacular imagery and a stellar photo opportunity to all.  We learned about its history and were quickly enamored by the mystery of the entire social context for which it once functioned.  We were delighted to have a picture perfect day for photography and history.

Following our visit to Modelo prison we arrived just before lunch to a clinic that supports pregnant woman at risk. We engaged in a deep discussion of childbirth, prenatal care and statistics in the Isle as well as Cuba.  We visited several woman who happened to be patients at the clinic and were politely greeted by the patients and the staff.  It was important to have this close encounter with people in need, and to learn about the medical system that supports them.

After a tasty lunch, we strolled into the capital of the Isle of Youth, Nueva Gerona.  We had multiple people-to-people interactions as we walked down the main boulevard.  We spoke to locals walking the streets, those working as barbers and businessmen, students and store keepers.  Our walk finally led us to the provincial art school, center for art and creativity for kids ages 6 to 16.  We visited the music and dance rooms, witnessed rehearsals by the students, and were engaged in a vibrant atmosphere as we exchanged conversation with students and teachers alike.  After our visit we boarded the bus and headed back to harbor where we embarked on the small boat that took us to Harmony V as the crew greeted us with cocktails, short recaps by the Lindblad staff, and dinner.  A great day indeed.

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About the Author

Fabio Amador

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Fabio Esteban Amador is an archaeologist and explorer and a host of the National Geographic Mundo television series Mysteries of the Underworld. Originally from El Salvador, Fabio Esteban studied fine arts at the Art Student League of New York and the School of Visual Arts. Following his dream to become an expedition artist, he then studied archaeology at Rutgers University and went on to earn Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Mesoamerican archaeology at the State University of New York, Buffalo. His doctoral research involved excavating and mapping ancient Maya settlements in the Yalahau region of the Northern Yucatan peninsula, seeking clues into how these early societies expressed their identity through art and iconography.

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