Life in Cuba Today Sample Program

Women to Women:
A US- Cuba Dialogue on Social, Economic and Environmental Systems

February 23 – March 6, 2014

Sample Program (subject to change)

Assisting organizations: Eco Cuba Network, Antonio Núñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, Cuban Institute for Friendship with the People, Amistur Travel Agency in Cuba and Global Exchange Reality Tours

Day Before Departure
Arrive in Miami afternoon or evening, overnight in hotel near Miami International Airport.

Saturday, February 22
Morning: Early departure for Havana from Miami International Airport. Arrival at Jose Marti International Airport, Havana, Cuba mid to late morning. Transfer to hotel.

Orientation meeting with Dr. Michele Frank and Cuban guides.

Lunch at hotel

Afternoon: City tour of Havana and Old Havana to visit sites of cultural, architectural, historical and environmental interest with Cuban urban planner and Havana historian Miguel Coyula or one of his associates.

Museum of the Revolution with guide

Evening: Welcome Dinner with Cuban hosts and guests from Cuba’s Social Welfare, Urban Development, Cultural and Environmental institutions. Brief introductory talks by hosts, guests and participants.

Optional Cultural activities (each week an agency in Havana publishes a guide to the cultural events for the coming week. Your tour guide will assist you in making group or individual selections from among the many performances, events and activities.)

Sunday, February 23

Morning: Visit Las Terrazas intentional community in Pinar del Rio province, an hour from Havana. Visit community museum, reforestation project, artists’ studios, family doctor clinic and organic garden

Lunch at El Romero organic, vegetarian restaurant; talk by vegan- vegetarian pioneer and chef Tito Núñez

Afternoon: Visit Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve biostation for a presentation on Cuba’s biosphere reserves. Hike in Reserve with Cuban naturalist and/or swim in San Juan River.

Visit to a tobacco farm or rural organic cooperative farm, time permitting.

Return to Havana

Evening: Optional cultural activities, attend a performance or visit a Cuban music club for dancing)

Monday, February 24

Morning: Panel discussion on the integration of environmental and social sustainability in Cuba, historically and currently, at the Antonio Núñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity (FANJ), affiliated with the Ministry of Culture. Discussion of role of community workers, as well as government support, in the promotion of urban gardens, energy efficiency campaigns, and neighborhood environmental reclamation projects.

Lunch at a paladar (restaurant in private Cuban home) with FANJ staff

Afternoon: Visit FANJ Sites of urban permaculture (former vacant lots, waste dumps, rooftops, etc.) with FANJ staff.

Visit neighborhood garden and farmers’ markets and the Food Conservation Project of Vilda and Pepe, who teach workshops on organic gardening, food preservation, urban medicine and other wellness topics in western Havana (or similar site).

Evening: Small group meetings according to interest and/or optional cultural activities

Tuesday, February 25

Morning: Visit Cenesex, Cuban Institute for the Sex Education and Gender Studies, presentation by Director, Mariella Castro or one of her associates. Topics will include issues of gender and birth control, sex education, and LGBT issues.

Lunch at Casa de las Americas / Presentation on current issues between Cuba and the United States

Afternoon: Visit La Murealando neighborhood art and ecology reclamation project, or Martin Luther King Community Center in Afro Cuban neighborhood of Marianao, or Paolo Freire Community Center in neighborhood of Cerro. Meet with staff and visit neighborhood/community development sites.

Visit Cuban Literacy Museum. Presentation on Cuba’s preschool through PhD public educational system

Evening: View short film Maestra! on the1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign and talk by former participant Norma Guilliard, who has been touring with the film at international film festivals during the past year.

Wednesday, February 26

Morning: Alamar Organoponico, the largest urban garden in Cuba. Tour garden and meet with director Miguel Salcines and other workers.

Lunch in the vegetarian restaurant at Alamar

Afternoon: Meet with representatives the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy to discuss the history, structure and scope of Cuba’s broad social and economic policy and practice, including current issues, challenges and successes, and prospects for the future.

Evening: Small group meetings according to interest and/or optional cultural activities

Thursday, February 27

Morning: To Matanzas (1 ½ hour drive; Q and A on bus with Cuban guides).

City tour of sites of historical, cultural and environmental interest (Colonial Pharmacy, Ediciones Vigias (small handcraft book publishing company), other sites in Old Matanzas

Lunch at Bellamar Caves

Afternoon: Visit Matanzas Polyclinic, family doctor clinic. Presentation on public health, and mental health systems in Cuba.

Evening: Cultural evening in Matanzas (Los Muñequitos or similar group (Afro Cuban rhythm and dance) or performance at newly renovated Teatro Sauto

Friday, February 28

Morning: Meet with staff of the Kairos Community. Site visits to Kairos Center projects and neighborhood of La Marina.

Visit Institute for Art Teachers, meet with staff and students.

Lunch in downtown Matanzas paladar

Afternoon: Visit Museum of the Route of the Slave at San Severino Castle. Talk on the slave trade in Cuba, the sugar plantations, and the legacy of slavery in Cuba.

Return to Havana

Evening: Small group meetings according to interest and/or optional cultural activities

Saturday, March 1

Morning: Visit Havana Senior Center for morning exercises and conversation with staff of Center and seniors and discussion of third age care

Lunch in neighborhood of Cuban painter Jose Fuster. Meet with the artist and neighbors

Afternoon: Museo de Bellas Artes or other cultural activity in Central Havana

Early Evening: La Colmenita Children’s Theater performance and discussion with staff about the nearly 20 year old neighborhood development project that grew into an internationally acclaimed touring theatrical company.

Evening: Optional cultural activities

Sunday, March 2

Morning: Free time for individual pursuits in Old Havana (art galleries, book fairs, craft fairs, large farmers’ market, architectural masterpieces.)

Lunch in El Bambu vegetarian restaurant in Havana Botanical Garden.

Afternoon: Tour Havana’s Botanical Garden for a tour with park naturalist.
Evening: CDR Gathering in Havana neighborhood. Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are neighborhood associations that monitor need and issues in their community and work to meet and address them. Opportunity to hear about neighborhood organization from community leaders, spokespersons, and neighbors, as well as to have some fun.

Monday, March 3

Morning: Meeting with representatives at UNEAC, Union of Writers and Artists to discuss the state of artistic expression in Cuba today from elementary school through the university and into professional life; freedom of expression; and other topics of interest.

Lunch in Central Havana

Afternoon: Visit Metropolitan Park urban hydrological project. The park is bisected by the Almendares River, site of a large constructed wetlands project. Presentation on water and waste management issues in Cuba.

Evening: Optional cultural activities

Tuesday, March 4

Morning: Free time for individual pursuits in Central and Old Havana or follow up visits with Cubans met during the week. A visit to the Havana Library and meeting with librarian can take place at this time for those who are interested.

Lunch on your own

Afternoon: Free time for individual pursuits in Central and Old Havana or follow up visits with Cubans met during the week.

Re-entry/evaluation meeting with Michele Frank and Cuban guides

Evening: Farewell dinner with Cuban hosts and guests in Old Havana

Cultural activity (i.e. Buena Vista Social Club or similar musical group)

Wednesday, March 5

Morning: Depart for US

Possible evening talks and Panel Discussions:

*Cuba Solar and Cuba Energia on renewable energy installations in rural Cuba and the energy efficiency campaign begun in 2006.

*Alternative, traditional and bioenergetics medical practice in Cuba with director of this department of the Ministry of Public Health Marta Perez Vinas

* Further talks on education, health care, economic and social policy, urban development, specific environmental concerns

Possible evening cultural activities:

* Music clubs that practice and teach all Cuban musical genres: salsa, rhumba and Afro Cuban rhythms, Cuban jazz, etc.

* Classical music and dance concerts

Possible alternative program:

  We are studying the feasibility of an additional overnight in Pinar del Rio that would enable the group to spend a day in Viñales Valley. It would be a day of immersion in a beautiful ecosystem with a Cuban naturalist.

Or, if we are able to do it on a weekday, it could include a substantive visit to a rural school or clinic in the town of Viñales and a half day hiking in the Valley.

Or both.