Staring at the limestone wall surrounding Windley Key State Park in Islamorada, I can make out polyps of brain coral, tunnels dug by worms, and the filigree of sea fans– all while standing on dry …
Cuba Un-canned: See It With the Locals
Here are some of the locals you will meet during Guy Harvey Outpost’s guided people-to-people expedition to Cuba December 13-18:
–The son of Fidel Castro’s official photographer;
–the director of the Cuba’s Masonic museum;
–a rural tobacco farmer;
–a mixologist who will teach you how to make the perfect Mojito.
And the locales you will visit will combine mainstream stops (Floridita –creator of the daiquiri– and Museo de la Revolucion, stone walls with 1950s bullet holes) with way un-trodden destinations (Cueva El Palmarito –the largest cave system in Latin America, and a fishing cooperative in Cojimar, where Ernest Hemingway’s captain spent most of his life).
Your hosts will be Justin White– operator of Doc Ford’s Cuba Expeditions and nephew of best-selling novelist Randy Wayne White–and Sports Illustrated photographer Ron Modra.
“The people we are going to meet are incredible– interesting, intelligent, diverse age groups,” White said. “You’ll see the monumental places but the targeted people and events introduce you to real people living their daily lives. The most valuable experience you can have is to be with the people and ask them questions. There are no airs put on.”
With new U.S.-to-Cuba travel restrictions set to take effect in mid-September, White is taking special care to stay on the right side of the law: staying only in private lodgings, taking meals in private restaurants; interacting one-on-one with Cuban people; and travelling in a 12-member group.
“We will abide by all the policies and restrictions put in place,” White said. “We focus on people-to-people exchanges.”
The six-day, five-night itinerary is packed with authentic experiences: poring over photo albums with Raul Corrales, whose father shot reams of images of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his friend author Ernest Hemingway; walking the docks at Cojimar, the small fishing village where Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” was set and where the author’s captain Gregorio Fuentes lived to be 104; visiting Finca Vijia where Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, still sits; touring a tobacco farm and coffee plantation; and hiking to a huge cave in the countryside. It also hits some of the typical tourist spots such as the Tropicana nightclub and Old Havana. And there will be multiple opportunities to ogle (and photograph) all the old cars, with Modra coaching on the finer points of capturing images.
If you book your expedition by Aug. 31, you’ll receive free airfare from Fort Lauderdale to Havana. For more information, visit www.guyharveyoutpost.com or call the Outpost Travel Desk at 800-513-5257.