Havana, Cuba

Dec 22, 2017 - Harmony V


Today was full-on people-to-people in Havana.  After getting an in-depth orientation to the city yesterday, we divided into small groups based on specific interests for today’s tours.  Some of us visited the socialist micro-city of Alamar, where we were greeted by Isis Salcines. She took us to one of Cuba’s most successful farming cooperatives—El Organoponico Vivero de Alamar.  We then explored this authentic Cuban neighborhood, peeking into markets, bodegas, and private businesses to get a better understanding of the life of common Cubans.

The other group met with Omar Diaz Liria at the Cuban Fine Arts Museum.  Omar gave us a 90-minute blitz of the museum, with a focus on contemporary paintings and sculptures.  The group proceeded to the headquarters of OnCuba Magazine, where the editors discussed the possibilities and limitations of independent press in Cuba.

We gathered for lunch at the privately-run restaurant Casa Abel which featured the house chicken, soaked in rum overnight and cooked in a beer sauce (yum!).  We then traveled to the rough and off-the-beaten path neighborhood of Mariano to see one of Havana’s treasures: Habana Compás. This dance group blends Spanish flamenco with Afro-Cuban rumba to a rhythm all their own.  We concluded our afternoon with a private tour of our Hotel Nacional, which gave us access to roof and a spectacular 360-degree view of the city.

We spent our last night in Havana in style, with a private concert by Grammy-nominated El Septeto Nacional.  Professional dancers led the way as we practiced our salsa and “son” steps on the rooftop of Central Park Hotel.  It’s amazing how much you can pack in in twelve hours in Havana!

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About the Author

Jeff Phillippe

Expedition Leader

Jeff was raised in upstate New York and completed his B.A. in geography at Middlebury College in Vermont.  He attained his master’s degree in water resource science at Oregon State University where his research focused on glacier hydrology in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. He spent most of his 20's teaching Earth sciences and geography at the secondary and university level, while taking his summers off to lead wilderness and climbing expeditions throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada.

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