Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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Bronze sculpture of Ernest Hemingway stands at the end of the bar in La Floridita, one of his favorite watering holes

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Bronze sculpture of Ernest Hemingway stands at the end of the bar in La Floridita, one of the writer’s favorite watering holes in Old Havana, Cuba. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.

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We’d barely stepped off the plane when I had my first conversation with a Cuban. At Revolution Square, I hurried over to the line of classic car taxis awaiting passengers and began chatting with the owner of a shiny black 1955 Chevy Bel Air. His eyes bugged out when he learned I was from the United States.

Americanos pueden viajar a Cuba ahora?” he asked incredulously. I explained that travel was still restricted, but that I had come with Discover Corps, a company that offers people-to-people tours approved by the U.S. government. I added that, due to the warming relationship between the U.S. and the Cuban governments, I was sure that travel to Cuba for all Americans would soon be possible.

“I hope so,” he replied, switching to English for my benefit. “We want you. We NEED you!” I turned to snap a photo of his classic car and he stopped me. “No, no, no…you must sit inside and let me take a photo of you.”

Sitting in a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, now a classic taxi in Havana, Cuba

Sitting in a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, now a classic taxi in Havana, Cuba

Discover Corps granted me access that the normal traveler to Cuba would not have. In addition to introducing us to local artists, musicians, dance troupes, and the emerging class of Cuban entrepreneurs, evening walks along the malecon in Havana allowed direct contact with residents, who were eager to speak to us about life in Cuba and how things are changing. Certainly, Cubans are eager for the U.S. to lift the travel ban on Cuba. They want the one million American tourists that are projected to flood into the country each year. But whether or not they need America was addressed in depth on the day we met with Jorge Mario Sanchez, an economics professor from the University of Havana. Sanchez explained some of the far-reaching consequences of the American embargo on Cuba and insisted that, “We do not need to trade with the United States, but we do need the U.S. to stop interfering with Cuban trade.” Read More

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Cathedral Square in Old Havana, Cuba

Click on above photo to view it in large format: The Cathedral of The Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, located in Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana, Cuba, is one of 11 Roman Catholic cathedrals in Cuba. The exterior is Baroque in style, built from blocks of coral carved from the ocean floor, while the interior features a much less ornate neoclassical style. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, to learn how to have an authentic Cuba experience.

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This revolutionary mural is one of dozens created by Proyecto Fuster in a Havana, Cuba neighborhood

Click on above photo to view it in large format: This revolutionary mural is one of dozens created by Proyecto Fuster in Havana, Cuba. In the neighborhood surrounding the project, more than 50 residents have allowed the artists to decorate their homes with art created from thousands of ceramic shards. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, to learn how to have an authentic Cuba experience.

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Classic convertible on the streets of Old Havana, Cuba

Click on above photo to view it in large format: This classic car in Havana, Cuba is just one of thousands that roam the boulevards, many serving as taxis for tourists. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, to learn how to have an authentic Cuba experience.

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Giant Superman statue stands at the center of town in Metropolis, Illinois

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Giant Superman statue stands at the center of town in Metropolis, Illinois