Literary Havana V

January 03-10, 2015

Your Itinerary

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Sat, 3 January 2015

[2:00 pm] Miami departure

[3:00 pm] - Arrive in Havana

Check-in: Hotel Telégrafo

[4:00 pm] - Orientation and familiarization

[6:00 pm] - Barrio Chino walking tour

Contracted Chinese workers, almost all male, came to

Cuba in waves over the decades, working in sugar mills,

in agriculture, and in Havana itself. Many of them married

Cubans, resulting in a culture that today is centered in

Barrio Chino. We are fortunate to have Relga Albarrán,

raised in Barrio Chino, lead us on a walking tour of her

neighborhood pointing out its social centers, historic

churches, theaters, and markets, as well as the senior

citizens home for elderly Chinese.

[7:30 pm] - Decameron Paladar

Paladars are private restaurants located in people’s

homes. With inventive recepies and attentive service, paladars

have become enormously popular with visitors, Decameron

among them.

Sun, 4 January 2015

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the hotel

We’ll have a buffet breakfast every morning at our hotel.

[9:00 am] - Old Havana Four Plazas

We will tour Old Havana on foot, walking between the

four main plazas that comprise Cuba’s first UNESCO World

Heritage Site. We’ll start at the Plaza de Armas, site of the

oldest Spanish fortress in the Americas, the 1519 locale

of the first mass in Cuba, and the massive Baroque seat of

government, known as Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.

We’ll continue to Plaza de San Francisco de Assis and

Plaza Vieja, where we will visit artist galleries and historic

buildings. The walk, which winds through streets lining

five centuries of historic architecture, gives a clear sense

of the structure of the colonial city. We’ll end at Plaza de la

Catedral and see the Baroque cathedral.

[12:00 pm] - Doña Eutimia – Paladar

Cuba’s paladars have been evaluated in on-line guides.

Doña Eutimia ranks extremely high, or example, among

tripadvisor users for its food and atmosphere.

[2:00 pm] - Callejón de Hammel

This alley, located in the working class Cayo Hueso neighborhood, serves as an open-air Afro-Cuban religion sanctuary, the work of local artist Salvador González. Its walls are adorned with evocative Santería murals paying homage to various religious belief systems of African origin. It hosts the famous Afro-Cuban rumbas that take place every Sunday afternoon. González, a self-trained artist, will be present. In addition to live and lively dancing and drumming, the Callejón hosts an art gallery and art school for neighborhood children. From its inception, González has refused funding from various government cultural institutions, preferring to support his activities from the sale of art work and donations.

[7:30 pm] - Dinner on your own; We will recommend a restaurant or paladar.

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[3] Monday, 5 January 2015

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the hotel

[9:30 am] – We’ll take a motorcoach 85 kilometers east

from Havana to Matanzas

[12:30 pm] – lunch at Restaurant Velazco

[2:00 pm] - Ediciones Vigia in Matanzas

The publishing house Ediciones Vigía, founded in 1985,

produces hand- made, limited run, one-of-a-kind books.

Members of the Vigía cooperative take on egalitarian

roles, printing, cutting, pasting, editing and binding each

book. We will watch them in action as well as engage in

discussion about Cuban publishing. Some copies of their

titles will be available.

[4:30 pm] – Return to Havana.

[7:30 pm] - Dinner on your own; We will recommend a restaurant or paladar.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the hotel

[9:30 am] - Ferry ride across Havana Bay to the town of Regla

[9:45 am] - Visit Our Lady of Regla Church, a church built

in homage to the Black Virgin, with a breathtaking gilt

altar beneath an arched ceiling. The black Madonna is the

patron saint of sailors. The church, a community, human-

scale affair, serves a neighborhood that includes women

who greet visitors and predict their future.

[10:15 am] - Guanabacoa Museum (Museum - Religious)

This one-of-a-kind museum located in a town adjoining

Havana, comprises objects of the popular Cuban religions

of African origins: Regla de Osha, Reglas Congas and the

Abakuá Secret Religious Societies. A guide will show,

through exhibits and description, the history of Cubans

brought from West Africa to the island, and how these

slaves maintained their beliefs and mixed them with

Catholicism. The result was syncretism, which today

defines the various Afro-Cuban religions.

[12:30 pm] - Doña Carmela - paladar

Excellent food in a garden offering criolla and international

cuisine. Known for its friendly and efficient service, dining

at Doña Carmela takes place in the backyard of a private

residence under trellises designed for the paladar.

[3:00 pm] - Ernest Hemingway's Finca La Vigía, (Museum -

History Museum)

We’ll visit Ernest Hemingway’s Finca La Vigía,, located on

a hilltop in the village of San Francisco de Paula southeast

of Havana. The home has recently been the subject

of a massive effort by the National Trust for Historic

Preservation to arrange the it just as the author left it in

1961. The grounds include the cemetery for Hemingway’s

many cats, a swimming pool, and his famous sport-fishing

boat, the Pilar. Out-buildings on the grounds house the

Hemingway archives, where documents he left behind

still exist. Finca Vigía and the fishing village of Cojímar–

from which the old man left for the sea– are considered

the most significant locales for those interested in

Hemingway’s life and writing.

[7:30 pm] - Dinner on your own; We will recommend a restaurant or paladar.

[5] Wednesday, 7 January 2015

[7:00 am] - Breakfast at the hotel

[9:30 am] - Theater activity

Visit Teatro Bertolt Brecht, where Cuban director Edgar

Estaco and playwright Pedro Ángel Verá will host a

discussion on Cuban theater, contemporary and historical,

followed by a rehearsal for the play in production.

[11:00 am] - La Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba

(The Patronato)

We’ll visit La Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba (El

Patronato), the Jewish community center that works to

preserve the traditions and pride of Judaism on the island.

This venue is located on the ground floor of a renovated

synagogue that annually hosts High Holy Day services. The

Patronato pharmacy accepts donated over-the-counter

medicines, available to any Cuban who walks in. Adela

Dworin, President of the Patronato, will brief us on the

history of Cuban Jews.

[12:30 pm] - El Aljibe Criolla cuisine Restaurant

This friendly open air restaurant in the Miramar district is known for its classic Criolla food. In mid- 2015, a novel called Sofrito will be published in the States in

which this restaurant, identified as El Ajillo, plays a major role.

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[2:30 pm] - Rooftop literary mixer Cuban writers, poets,

A rare and informative event, this literary mixer at

the fifth-floor walk-up Centro Habana rooftop home of

internationally published poet Reina María Rodríguez

offers an opportunity to meet Cuban writers, poets, and

others in the country’s literary world. A bilingual poetry

reading concludes the visit.

[7:30 pm] - Dinner on your own; We will recommend a restaurant or paladar.

[6] Thursday, 8 January 2015

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the hotel

[9:00 am] - Day trip to Viňales

190 kilometers west of Havana in Pinar del Río province,

Viňales has evolved into a center for backpackers,

independent visitors, and students of limestone formations.

[11:00 am] - Cueva del Indio

Just outside Viňales is The Cueva del Indio, which Cubans

discovered almost a century ago. The cave’s name comes

from the indigenous Guanahatabey people who, during

the Spanish conquest, used it as a refuge and a graveyard.

About one-third of the 5100 foot grotto has been

developed for visitors, like you, walk, then ride on a

motorized boat through remarkable limestone formations.

[12:30 pm] - Finca Rojas

Finca Rojas is a working tobacco farm in Viňales Valley

open to visitors. Tobacco for Cuba's legendary cigars comes

from this region. Before visiting the tobacco drying barn,

we’ll have a home grown lunch served on the grounds of

the finca. Tobacco for Cuba’s legendary cigars comes from

[4:00 pm] Return to Havana.

[7:30 pm] - La Guarida (Restaurant - Paladar

Back in Havana, we’ll dine at the internationally famous La

Guarída. Much of Cuba’s 1996 Academy Award nominated

movie “Strawberry and Chocolate” was filmed here. Both

the film and the restaurant are entirely worthwhile.

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[7] Friday, 9 January 2015

[7:00 am] - Breakfast at the hotel

[10:00 am] - Museo de Bellas Artes Cubano/Cuban Fine Art Museum

We’ll visit the Cuban collections in this striking modernist

building which was completed in 1953, and exemplifies

the combination of sculpture with architecture in Cuban

mid-century modernism. The Palace of Fine Arts houses

an elaborate and noteworthy collection of Cuban visual

art that spans four centuries. From pre-colonial art to

the present, Cuba’s artists have reflected the country’s

11:00 am] - Taller experimental de Gráfica

The Taller was established in 1962 by a small group of

artists lead by Orlando Suárez, a muralist whose initiative

also helped found the Superior Art Institute. Mr. Suárez

was supported in this effort by the Chilean Poet Pablo

Neruda and by Che Guevara who applauded his efforts

to create a center where all artists of the City of Havana

could go to produce prints. Today the Taller is more than

a workshop. It is a studio, a school and most of all, an art

institution that preserves and develops the sophisticated

art of print making with relative freedom of spirit and

form. While at the center you will see artworks produced

there and have a conversation with the artists about their

works and about life as an artist in Havana.

[12:30 pm] - NAO paladar

[2:30 pm] - Farmers market

Havana enjoys a system of farmers markets that are part

of the food distribution system and a large element of

the country's new foray into small business. Each farmer

can bring fresh products to sell directly to Habaneros.

Cuban produce is 100% organic and has been that way for decades.

[7:30 pm] - Farewell dinner at Kadir López Art Studio
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[8] Saturday, 10 January 2015

[7:00 am] - Breakfast buffet at the hotel

[9:00 am] - Check out of Hotel

[11:30 am] - Lunch on your own

[12:30 pm] - Transfer from te Telégrafo to the airport

[4:00 pm] - Depart Havana to Miami (Don’t forget your 25

CUC departure tax.)

[5:00 pm] – Arrive Miami, clear customs, connect to

domestic flight.