The NIU Alumni Association recently hosted a travel group to Cuba after securing a specific license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. What an adventure it turned out to be! Havana was so exciting, with vibrant colors and lively music everywhere. Our group visited the Museum of the Revolution (which houses Cuba’s most complete exposition of its revolutionary history), La Corona cigar factory, a local Jewish Center, the Ebony Contemporary Dance Studio, a children’s ballet studio, art studios, the National Museum of Fine Art, and the University of Havana. Wherever we could, we gave donations of supplies, especially when we visited the elementary school.
Riding in the antique convertible cars through the city of Havana and having private Salsa dance lessons were two activities everyone loved. We enjoyed wonderful Cuban food—not just beans and rice, but so much more! (And lots of ice cream!)
We were intrigued by the historical and architectural development of Cuba, especially since the end of Batista’s regime. We learned about Fidel Castro and how Cuba has changed since 1959 to the present.
Much of Cuba is a tropical paradise with palm trees and lovely beaches. We drove to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and the Bay of Pigs, through the beautiful countryside, rural communities, and tobacco plantations. We traveled to Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Río to visit Las Terrazas, a model socialist community developed in the 1980s. We saw the organic vegetable gardens; met and talked with the local gardeners and workers in the community; and had lunch at El Romero, an eco-restaurant that prepares dishes with locally and organically grown vegetables. Tito Gudas, the restaurant’s chef, led a discussion on Cuba’s agricultural industry. We even got a CD with recipes!
Our trip concluded with the performance of Coro Cienfuegos, a renowned choir that has entertained Cubans for generations and performed all over the world. The music was inspiring, and provided an emotional end to our travel adventure of a lifetime.