Course Description

Discover Cuba

Discover Cuba's storied music scene all the way from traditional "guajiro" and "trova" musicians to the world-renowned Tropicana show, the Buena Vista Social Club, and hot Cuban jazz, and along the way uncover the remarkable charms of old Havana, the UNESCO World Heritage site town of Trinidad-de-Cuba, and the lovely southern port city of Cienfuegos. Both rural and urban landscapes will be explored.

Cuba is a tropical paradise with a history steeped in Spanish and Afro-American cultures. Since the 1959 revolution, direct American influence has been removed while the Castro government has placed a heavy emphasis on developing the country's artistic scene (as well as sports, education, and health care).The result has been a highly developed musical culture that is respected all over the world and has come to particular prominence since the release of the Buena Vista Social Club Grammy-winning CD and well-known film in the late 1990s. Cuban music is at the heart of salsa music (which we will hear), but Cubans also have a special taste for jazz, which we will also hear at the Jazz Café and Zorra y Cuervo jazz clubs in Havana.

Upon arriving in Varadero after a direct flight from Calgary, we will travel through the Cuban countryside to Trinidad, a beautifully maintained colonial city that has been largely untouched by the modern world, but has a lively nightlife of folkloric Cuban music. We will spend three nights here, exploring Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and the Topes de Collantes National Park with an easy back-country hike to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. Then we will spend four nights in Havana where we will enjoy the architecture of glorious old Havana, El Morro Fortress, Revolutionary Museum, possibly a Cuban professional baseball game (the Cubans are wild about their baseball), the local markets during the day, and hot Havana nights of music in the evenings.

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Accompanying resource person: John Reid


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