DAY 2: Santeria Art, Mojitos, and Salsa Dancing
This morning it’s time to get to know Havana and the Cuban people. Climb into a vintage car (think ‘57 Chevy) and take in the sweeping ocean views as we drive along the malecon to Havana Vieja. Here we explore two of the four main squares: Plaza de la Catedral, named for the impressive 18th century Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza San Francisco de Asis, facing Havana’s harbor.
After our walking tour in Old Havana, we will head to Miramar, an upscale neighborhood whose expansive boulevards are lined with foreign embassies. Miramar is also home to one of Havana’s oldest and most renowned paladers where we will enjoy a delicious lunch, prepared especially for us, in a beautiful garden setting. But first, we will lounge at the paladar’s stunning bar to try our hand at making mojitos with an expert bartender. Don’t forget to ask what his favorite cocktail to make is! Then, bring your drink with you as the executive chef invites you into his kitchen for a brief cooking demonstration to learn the secrets to preparing classic Cuban fare with a modern twist, like paella-Cuban style.
After lunch, we will make our way to Centro Havana and wander through the street art gallery of muralist and painter Salvador Gonzales. Heavily influenced by the traditions of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, Salvador’s street art uses everything from bathtubs to car parts. As we stroll through the outdoor alley cum art gallery, the curator will happily answer any questions about Santeria or the artist’s interesting work. Keep an eye out for Salvador himself, relaxing around the gallery.
Next up is a salsa class at one of our fabulous dance instructor’s home. Whether or not you choose to dance, visiting Johan’s apartment will be an eye-opening experience. Climbing two stories on a makeshift spiral staircase (the main one is always under repair), you will get a sense of how Cubans’ passion and optimism help them overcome many obstacles. Once upstairs, the dance troupe’s bright smiles, joie de vivre, and endless patience will have you dancing in no time!
This evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music can attend an optional jazz performance at the Jazz Café in Vedado or a cabaret show at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.