This is our overall mission during your week on the island. The People to People license you will be traveling under specifies we achieve this goal through meaningful interaction with the Cubans and an immersion into the day to day culture of the country itself.
The art you will be creating will be done primarily through photography. A candid photo of a painter or lithographer explaining his or her work to us creates art. A close up shot of a person in a tobacco field preparing the leaves for export creates art. Even a colorful picture of the owner of a pristine classic car showing us the fine points of his originally restored engine creates art. By the end of your week, with our help, you will have created and will be taking home incredible memories which will last you and your loved ones forever. You will leave Cuba with your own, self-created “ART”.
Our program, “The Experience” is just that, a lifetime of Cuban art and culture squeezed into eight days and seven nights. We will give you a synopsis of what to expect in this short time frame and the activities to look forward to. As we get closer to our “launch” date you will receive the actual day to day itinerary, as our Program Director is constantly updating this Experience to provide you with the best, most people to people activities possible. Providing all of our clients with the highest degree of value versus money invested is the goal at Experience Cuba Now.
Our groups will be spending two half day periods with local English speaking Cuban photographers exploring the bustling city of Havana creating art. Ariel and Michel will guide you to areas of fantastic cultural photo opportunities intertwined with meaningful people interaction.
Canvas Painting and Lithography
We will meet painters in their studios and get an understanding of what goes into each painting and what it means to that artist. A two hour visit to the Taller Expermintal de Graphica (lithography workshop) in old Havana working with the artists and understanding the art of Cuban lithography is an important part of that day's itinerary.
This is a portion of the program that will simply amaze you. We have arranged a two to three hour visit to an area named “Fusterville” after Jose Fuster, the “Picasso of the Caribbean” and his son Alex. They have created unbelievable art using ceramic tiles of all sizes on their home and throughout the small neighborhood. Experience Cuba Now has arranged for either Jose or Alex to give you a personally guided stroll showing us and speaking about the thousands of hand painted tiles that are a part of every house and wall. As an added “art creating” activity, you will have the option to place your own painted tile on the Experience Cuba Now wall down the street for posterity. We will be served a great midday meal at the Fuster house as the “cherry on top of the sundae” before leaving.
As part of the photography excursions, you will see and learn about the amazing forts, churches and building renovations in the Old Havana sector. Each stop will provide the opportunity to create more art by exchanging thoughts and information with Cuban architects familiar with those buildings. Cuban architecture is a fantastic mix of Spanish, African, Mexican, Portuguese and American styles. From the early days of Spanish/Moors rule to the more current early 1900s of American influence, Cuba will provide you with a visual trip through architectural history. Cuban architecture boasts every style from the Renaissance as shown in the colonial stone fortresses, through the Moorish style of homes and palaces which testify to the eight century presence of the Moors in Spain, to the Baroque style of palaces and churches.
This is an industry which has remained constant amidst the ups and downs of Cuban history. As an integral part of this country’s eclectic culture, tobacco farming and production is a must “experience” for all of our clients. When Cuba became a Spanish colony in 1511, the colonists began to cultivate tobacco more systematically and to establish tobacco plantations, or Vegas (as in Las Vegas), as they were known. In 1492 Columbus shared food with the natives of this large island. They offered him a leaf of “cohiba” to be smoked in a “tobaco”, or pipe. This tobaco pipe was lit with a piece of wood called “cuaba”. When Columbus returned Spain, he mistakenly introduced the leaves he brought back as “tobacco”. There you have it! Over the centuries tobacco has grown to become a vital component of the Cuban economy. It accounts for $240 million in income for the Cuban government. You will meet and spend quality interaction time with the owner of one of the largest tobacco farms in Cuba located in the mountainous province of Pinar del Rio, arguably the most beautiful region of the island. This will be a full day of creating wonderful art.
Almost as important to recent Cuban culture as tobacco and baseball, the American classic cars (autos antiguos) have separated the pre Revolution and post Revolution era. Per Wikepedia: Yank tank or máquina (machine) are the words used to describe the many classic cars (for example: 1957 Chevrolet, 1953 Ford, 1958 Dodge, etc.) present in Cuba with an estimated 60,000 of them still driving the roads today. In 1962 a United States embargo against Cuba was introduced, effectively cutting trade between the two countries. This meant that the cars in Cuba could no longer receive new replacement parts when something broke. Currently, the only way to keep these cars on the road today is by using Cuban ingenuity to adapt household products and Soviet technology into these vehicles. Not only will we get to ride for an hour in these majestic carriages, but will be able to spend time with the owners and learn how they keep their cars operating. This meaningful interaction will be the basis for strikingly colorful art creation and further cultural immersion with the Cuban people.
Children and Education
The ability to visit a Cuban Elementary school legally for any American is very rare. ECN is one of only two or three trip operators who has been granted permission by the Cuban government to do just that. We take you to a Havana elementary school of children ages 6-12 to see how they pass a normal day and matriculate through the impressive school system. You will be allowed to sit in on an active classroom, observe and even interact with the kids. This is an extremely rewarding and not to be forgotten activity. We only ask that everyone brings a lined notebook with pencils to donate. The Cuban children must share the basic tools to learn which our kids take for granted.
Adults and Education
Experience Cuba Now maintain University of Havana professors on staff as English speaking lecturers. Our professors will spend an hour or so teaching you about the Past, Present and Future of Cuban economics and history with a Q & A session following. This is a vastly interesting and much appreciated part of our itinerary which will give you information never know before about this mysterious island. As a special bonus, ECN will also offer a lecture and guided tour by a University of Havana history professor specializing in "The Effects of the American Mafia on Cuban History and the Revolution". This is a most fascinating tidbit of American and Cuban history that will surely surprise. Meyer Lansky, Al Capone, John Gotti, Lucky Luciano and Frank Sinatra....all prominent figures in Cuban history.
What can we say about this gentleman that is not already a given. A very talented yet mysterious American author who fell in love with the island and spent much of his later years immersing himself in the Cuban culture. You will now get a chance to walk in his footsteps, see where he lived and worked. Ernest Hemingway loved Cuba and its people. We will start in Old Havana where we will visit his initial home, room 511 of the historic Ambos Mundos Hotel, the starting point For Whom The Bell Tolls. At that time our Cuban “Hemingway Aficionado” will discuss with you his life and what Hemingway meant to the Cuban culture. We will then show you the fishing village of Cojimar, whose people and lifestyle inspired The Old Man and the Sea. See the author's 9,000-volume library, his yacht Pilar and the typewriter on which he wrote some of his greatest works. Your Hemingway immersion will end with a Friday night dinner at the Hemingway Marina where a marina official will share his knowledge and show you more Hemingway artifacts. This sequence of The Experience will have no shortage of meaningful interaction with the Cubans and provide many opportunities to create the art that will last you forever.
Tourism, or “Culturalism”, we know the difference, do you?