Legacies and Landscapes of Cuba

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NOV. 10-19, 2016 $5,350
Gibara, Santiago, Jibacoa, Vinales, Havana
UCLA Faculty on Tour Activity Level: Active Hide This
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Legacies and Landscapes of Cuba

NOV. 10-19, 2016
Gibara, Santiago, Jibacoa, Vinales, Havana

Join us as we explore the more hidden corners of Cuba. Our thoughtfully planned journey begins in the eastern part of the island with stays in the town of Gibara and Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago. These provide a contrast to the western part of the island and reflect a culture that has been impacted by their proximity to Jamaica and Haiti and the French planters and merchants who chose to settle in and around Santiago. Discover coastal fishing villages, charming squares and run-down Spanish-era buildings set against cobalt blue waters. Head west to the beach at Jibacoa which lies next to a pristine coral reef and is just a drive away from the sugar mills once owned by the Hershey chocolate empire. From here visit the city of Matanzas, once called the Athens of Cuba, before driving to the tobacco region of Vinales. Admire the valley’s distinctive landscape, with its steep-sided limestone mountains called mogotes rising dramatically from fertile flat-floored valleys where farmers cultivate the red soil for tobacco, fruits and vegetables. End with a final two days in bustling Havana. There simply could not be a more exciting time to visit this “time-capsule” nation before its landscape changes forever.

Cost: $5,350
Activity Level: Active

UCLA Faculty on Tour

Teofilo Ruiz
UCLA Professor of History
Teofilo Ruiz received his doctorate from Princeton University and has taught at many universities, including the University of Michigan and Princeton. He served as UCLA History Department chair (2002-2005) and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (2008-2009). A medievalist and early modern historian, Ruiz was selected by the Carnegie Foundation as one of the four Outstanding Teachers of the Year in 1994. The author of 14 books, he received the prestigious 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and the Distinguished Teacher Award at UCLA. In 2012, Ruiz was selected as the Senior Research lecturer at UCLA and received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama.



DAY 1 | Nov. 10. Gibara
Depart on a mid‐afternoon flight from Miami to Holguin and continue a short distance by a scenic road that undulates through eye‐catching villages to the small, intimate town of Gibara. This is an independent‐spirited, coastal fishing village of charming squares and run‐down Spanish‐era buildings on a cobalt bay. The saddle‐shaped Silla de Gibara that so capivated Columbus creates a wild, scenic backdrop.

Overnight at the charming Hotel Ordoño Encanto, a 27‐room colonial gem with a two‐floor roof terrace, original cornicing, and a beautiful, frescoed lobby.

DAY 2 | Nov. 11. Gibara
Accompanied by Ernesto Blanco, a professor at the University of Holguin, spend the day exploring Gibara and its environs. Admire the town’s old buildings with their larger than life sized peeling wooden shutters, stained glass windows and fading pastel colored walls. Walk past the town’s church, and the miniature Statue of Liberty monument replica.

Enjoy lunch at Playa de Caletones. Afer lunch, stop by at the Jiba movie theater that plays host to the Low Budget Film Festival (Festival del Cine Pobre) every year. Its beautifully ramshackle lobby overlooking the Calixto Garcia Park is papered with old posters for long‐forgotten movies. Enjoy a private performance of the superb Gibara Dance company followed by dinner at La Culinaria, where chef Alberto Ronda serves wonderful Cuban food every evening.

DAY 3 | Nov. 12. Santiago
Morning drive to Santiago, the second largest city in Cuba and its former capital. The rich racial mixture of this city has produced some of the most exciting music, art, and architecture in the Caribbean. This port city is also an industrial city and the distilleries of the original Bacardi rum are here. Upon arrival, visit the Morro Castle originally built in 1640 to ward off pirate attacks. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a restaurant set atop the cliffs with fabulous views along the coast. After checking into the Hotel Melia, enjoy drinks at the hotel before enjoying dinner at a private restaurant.

DAY 4 | Nov. 13. Santiago
Take a full day to explore Santiago. Stop at the Museo de Arte Colonial, built in 1516 and said to be the oldest house in Cuba and the Carnival Museum. Santiago’s annual carnival is a major event and has been part of the city’s traditions since 1669.

Enjoy lunch at Café Matamoros on the Plaza Dolores before visiting the Jesuit Dolores College where Fidel Castro was educated as a youth.

After lunch, drive to the Basilica del Cobre. The church – Cuba’s only basilica – is known for its offerings and as the shrine to La Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity). Hemingway dedicated his Nobel Prize for Literature to the Virgin.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 5 | Nov. 14
Morning flight to Havana. Upon arrival continue along a spectacular coastal road to Matanzas which began to flourish after large sugar mills were established in the region between 1817 and 1827.

Stop for lunch at the Matanzas Seminary which was founded in 1946 by the Cuban Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal Churches. A?er lunch, enjoy a performance in the chapel by the Matanzas Chamber Choir.

Stop at the Ediciones Vigia which was founded in 1985 and produces hand‐made first edi?on books on a range of topics. Drive a short distance to Jibacoa and the Memories Hotel. Coco palms, cactuses, flowering bushes and plants flourish in the hotel grounds which are set against sparkling blue water and a lush landscape.

DAY 6 | Nov. 15. Jibacoa
Located close to Jibacoa is the town of Hershey, part of the American Hershey Corporation chocolate empire’s subsidiary property in Cuba. Explore the ruins of the sugar mill and the beautifully maintained Hershey Gardens before returning to the hotel for lunch beach‐side. This afternoon enjoy a snorkeling expedition on the resorts private coral reef.

DAY 7 | Nov. 16. Vinales
Depart to the west part of Cuba, with its jungle‐covered summits dropping down limestone cliffs to verdant valleys. Stop en route at the Orchid Farm at Soroa which houses over 800 species of plants.

Visit a small tobacco farm to learn more about the growing of tobacco and the economics of the tobacco industry in Cuba followed by lunch at a beautiful private farm overlooking the valley. It is really possible from here to appreciate the valley’s distinctive landscape, with its steep‐sided limestone mountains called mogotes rising dramatically from fertile flat‐floored valleys where farmers cultivate the red soil for tobacco, fruits and vegetables.

Check into Hotel La Ermita which offers sweeping views and wonderful Cuban food.

DAY 8 | Nov. 17. Havana
Morning drive to Havana. Drive straight to El Divino for a delicious lunch. Set in the middle of La Yoandra ranch, Divino restaurant is a unique place where culinary traditions take center stage amidst music and art.

After lunch proceed to the Callejon de Hamel, the site of a huge multi‐dimensional Afro‐Cuban mural. Here there will be a chance to learn more about the Santeria religion where we meet with a Santeria practioner, Elias Aseff.

Check‐into the Parque Central. Before dinner, meet with Dr. Rena Pérez, formerly with the Ministry of Agriculture and now an advisor to the Ministry of Sugar. Dr. Perez’s discussion, documented with slides, will address “Living in Cuba Today.”

Enjoy cocktails and dinner on the roof‐top.

DAY 9 | Nov. 18. Havana
Morning meeting with Norma Guillard, who is featured in the documentary film La Maestra. View the documentary which tells the personal stories of the literacy campaign Fidel arranged in the early days of the Revolution.

Continue on to attend a rehearsal of the Camerata Romeu. This is an all‐women group of musicians, who play stringed instruments. The Camerata Romeu was founded in 1993 by director Zenaida Romeu. Her goal is to select music from both Cuba and different parts of the world. Composers chosen range from Leo Brouwer and Esteban Salas to Bach and Mozart.

Enjoy lunch at the home of curator Milagros Borges Gomez. Admire her lovely home and the works of many different Cuban artists. After lunch enjoy a private performance of the dance/musical group Havana Compass. The troupe has created an exciting, diverse performance with traces of Spanish dance form, African‐Cuban Jazz rhythm and modern dance.

Farewell dinner this evening with chef Niuris Higuera at her elegant restaurant – Atelier.

DAY 10 | Nov. 19. Return flight from Havana to Los Angeles.


Pricing: $5,350

Book this Tour

How to Book

Download the tour Reservation Form here. This tour is booked quickly, so sign up early to reserve space.

Enclose a check or provide credit card information for $500 per person, per tour, as a deposit for the selected tour. Make check payable to Distant Horizons. Deposits are provisional and fully refundable pending your acceptance of final brochure terms.

Mail completed reservation form and your deposit to:
UCLA Alumni Association
Attn: Alumni Travel
James West Alumni Center
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1397

A brochure will be mailed to you as soon as it is available.

Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following terms and conditions.

Reservations, deposits and final payment
To reserve your space on this program, a $500 deposit is required per person. Check only, payable to Distant Horizons. Reservations are acknowledged in order of receipt until the maximum enrollment has been reached. Your final payment is due 60 days prior to departure, check only.

It is advisable not to mention Cuba when making any payments such as writing Cuba in the memo line of your check or when wiring payments. Even though you are traveling on a legal trip to Cuba, due to the trade embargo, should your bank see Cuba mentioned they will be forced to freeze your bank account until they receive proof of the legality of your trip.

Cancellations and refunds
If you must cancel the trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refund for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges:

  • Notice more than 60 days prior to departure: a refund less a $350 cancellation charge
  • Notice between 60 and 30 days prior to departure: a refund less 50% of the trip price
  • No refund shall be issued if cancellation is received less than 30 days prior to departure
  • No refunds shall be issued after the tour has commenced
  • No refunds shall be issued for occasional missed meals, sightseeing tours or any unused services
  • Because these cancellation policies are strictly enforced, we strongly recommend for your protection that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. Information on trip cancellation insurance will be sent to you upon receipt of your reservation form.


The liability of the UCLA Alumni Association as sponsor, and Distant Horizons as tour operator, is strictly limited. The UCLA Alumni Association and Distant Horizons purchase transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omission of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The UCLA Alumni Association and Distant Horizons are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts, and tickets are issued subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, and other independent suppliers.

Distant Horizons is a California Seller of Travel (CST #2046776-40) and a participant in the California Travel Restitution Fund. Information regarding the rights of California residents to make a claim may be found at tcrcinfo.org. California law requires certain sellers of travel to have a trust account or bond. This business has a trust account.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance to cover the possibility of trip cancellation or interruption, emergency medical evacuation, medical expenses and baggage loss incurred while traveling. All confirmed passengers will receive travel insurance information in your confirmation packet. It’s one of our many membership benefits! For information about travel insurance, visit alumni.ucla.edu/travel-insurance. Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, terrorist incidents and travel supplier financial insolvencies will be provided if the insurance is purchased within 15 days of your trip deposit. Please read the insurance brochure carefully.