Across Cuba

Jan 06, 2018 - Harmony V

Light rain and unusually cool weather greets us this morning.  Timing is relaxed, as we depart for the Museo de la Revolucion a bit before ten a.m.  The building is the former presidential palace.   The last inhabitant, dictator Fulgenico Batista, was overthrown by Castro’s revolution in 1959.  The museum documents the time directly leading up to, during and directly after the revolution.

Today, we head from Havana, on Cuba’s northwest coast, to Cienfuegos on the southcentral coast. Cuba, roughly the size of Pennsylvania, runs more or less northwest to southeast for about 720 miles, and ranges from 19 to 119 miles wide from north to south.  We travel about one hundred fifty miles to the east southeast to get from the capitol city to the port city of Cienfuegos.

Our ride takes us through rural Cuba, providing a view of the landscape and the people.  There is little traffic once we leave Havana.  In addition to automobiles, we see horse drawn carts and people on bicycles.  We pass through wide open country, with occasional settlements.  While there are some cattle, by far the most abundant crop is sugar cane.  We see rice fields and a smattering of other crops.

Ever present turkey vultures are visible throughout the day.  Other birds sighted include cattle egrets, great egrets and snowy egrets.

Our lunch stop is the approximate half way point of our journey, at Fiesta Campesina.  There is music, of course!  There are also nice grounds for a short stroll.  Bird watching is especially good here, with a West Indian woodpecker standing out as the most exciting sighting.

On our way again, we end up at the magnificent town square of Cienfuegos.  Founded in 1819 by Frenchman Don Louis De Clouet, the town prospered as a port for the sugar trade.  Tourism is an important industry today.

The highlight of the day is the magnificent acapella concert performed by the renowned group “Cantadores de Cienfuegos”.  Their material ranges from Gospel to the Beatles to a variety of Cuban standards.  They are mesmerizing.  After the concert, we have an opportunity for a people to people dialogue.

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About the Author

Larry Prussin

Expedition Leader

Larry has been a naturalist for more than 35 years.  His experience includes extensive work in environmental education in Ohio, Vermont and Yosemite National Park where he was program director for the Yosemite Institute.  He has been a ranger at Mohican State Park, Lehman Caves National Monument, and Glacier Bay National Park where he first met up with Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic in 1990.

About the Photographer

Jacob Edgar

Cultural Specialist

Jacob Edgar is an Ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker and global explorer with an insatiable curiosity for the diverse ways in which people express themselves through music. Jacob’s adventures have taken him to dozens of countries, and hundreds of the world’s greatest international music festivals, showcases and performance venues in search of exceptional musical talents. Since 1998, Jacob has been the main music researcher for the acclaimed world music compilations label Putumayo World Music, contributing songs and liner notes to over 300 Putumayo collections that combined have sold over 15 million copies. In 2006, Jacob founded the record label Cumbancha, whose artists include some of the top names in international music. In 2009, Jacob embarked on a new adventure as host of a new music and travel television program Music Voyager. The series invites viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet and broadcasts on PBS and other stations around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he was a double major in History and Latin American Studies, Jacob conducted field research on music and society in Central America. His love of music took him to the West Coast where Jacob was awarded the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 1994 with a Masters in Ethnomusicology.

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