Who wants to go to Cuba?

That I was sitting in the restaurant, soaked to the seams, was not the surprising part of lunch.

That it had begun raining as soon as I had to leave for a social appointment, for the third time in a row, revealing the clear correlation between California’s drought problems and my mediocre social schedule, was also not the surprising part of lunch.

No, the surprise was when Jeff Greenwald, friend, writer, and executive director of Ethical Traveler asked me a question:


“Would you like to lead this year’s Interactive Arts Tour to Cuba?”


Habana Nueva sidestreetWould I like to lead that tour, for Ethical Traveler, to Cuba? No. I would like to get warm, dry, and eat lunch. I would ballywell love to lead that tour!


The 2014 version of that trip was when I first went to Cuba, nine days of paintings, sculptures, and photographs in a country that values and prioritizes art far more than some others I could mention. Nine days of warm Caribbean air, fresh mint mojitos, and pulse-pleasing samba beats. Or was it jazz rhythms and savory ropa vieja under that vibrant island sun? In Cuba, it isn’t a question of either/or, it feels like a world of even/more.


Havana capital buildingWe live in a standardized world, Ici Paris in Tbilisi and KFC on Katmandu corners, but in Cuba we find, among the sensations and stimulations, inspiration and perspiration, alternatives. Alternative philosophies, techniques, and interpretations. Different issues and topics, advantages and disadvantages. Over there, drugs are not a problem but finding toilet paper is. There is nearly nothing to fear from crime but don’t expect too many opposition editorials. And if you love the golden arches of an ominous marketing clown, better stay home, there’s no Mickey Dee’s down there.


That’s not to say that we’ll spend our week in some kind of primordial Eden, untouched by the modern world. Tourism has been alive and well in Cuba for decades, it’s just that America is only now signing the forms. I’ve been back to Cuba without this tour organizer’s expertise, and the show-up-and-see experience in Cuba is a challenging one. I am a devoted lover of independent travel, but in my experience, Cuba is better seen with assistance. (Especially if you want to connect with the artist community.)Choco's workshop paint


So I’m going to make sure I’m ready to offer that assistance, to help 10-16 people have as wonderful of a first exposure to the country as I did. Now, the question is, are you interested in being one of those people? Because as of now there are still spots in the delegation. If you’re interested in grabbing yours, check out the Ethical Traveler page for the trip, here.