Cuba! Day 1.
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Flag over maleconCuba has always held a fascination for me.  And so, when an email circulated from the bar association for a trip to Cuba sponsored by the International Section, I jumped at the chance.  I did not realize how little I knew until I went. But first, a little teaser of Cuba before you read on: [vimeo] A group of about 40 state bar members and their traveling companions gathered in Miami to leave for Havana on December 1st.  We did not leave from or go through Canada or Mexico. In fact, American Airlines runs a daily flight to and from Havana from Miami that is used by ABC charters.   On arrival at the airport in Miami we were handed our packet with visa, airline ticket, and letter of authorization from OFAC to travel.  We boarded our plane and a mere 45-minutes later touched down at Juan Marti International Airport.  We made it to the bus just in time before a brief afternoon tropical downpour.   [just in case you don't read down to the bottom but are interested, NYSBA is running the same trip through Cuba Cultural Travel in May 2015 - register here] Our first stop was lunch at El Litoral, a restaurant that was recently acquired by a co-op of restaurateurs from the State.  Many of the previously state-owned restaurants in Cuba are becoming privatized.  Before economic reforms introduced by Raul Castro in 2011, many people were hosting restaurants inside their homes, called "paladores".  Along our trip most of the restaurants we ate at were these types of "paladors" which are now licensed by the government.  Some restaurants continue to be state run. Cuba - 37247 Cuba - 37236 Cuba - 37237 On our way to the hotel, we passed the statute of Juan Marti holding a young child (an emblem of Elian Gonzalez) pointing accusatorily at the United States Interests Section building.  Cuba - 37253 Although I anticipated a steady diet of rice and black beans, I quickly learned that we would not go very long each day without eating.   After settling in at the Hotel Parque Central we gathered downstairs to walk a few blocks from the hotel to Centro Asturianos for a welcome dinner at Havana Gourmet (formerly known as the American Club) followed by a private musical performance of Cuban music led by Professor Alberto Faya.   Professor Faya has been working as a musician, professor and researcher within the Cuban musical world since 1973.  He has won national awards in music and musicology.  Joined by several young musicians - one of which is his son -- he treated us to a lively journey through the history of Cuban music. Cuba - 36979 Cigars Stay tuned and "follow" this post as I will continue to update it with additional information about the trip!   And, if you are interested in seeing it for yourself before full economic relations are restored, there is still time to go on the same trip with the New York State Bar Association in March, or with Brooklyn Heights Synagogue from April 23 - May 1!
Posted under: Cuba, Fun, Travel

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