An exploration of culture and climate

Cuba with Climate Cast

Join Minnesota Public Radio’s chief meteorologist Paul Huttner on an in-depth exploration of Cuba’s unique history and climate. Discover the island’s beautiful geography and unique biosystems. From organic farms, lush botanical gardens and the agricultural region of Las Terrazas, to historic old Havana and beloved haunts of Hemingway, we will spend time with Cuban meteorologists, naturalists, historians, biologists, musicians and more. Escape the cold days of winter with Minnesota Public Radio and enjoy the magic of Cuba before it changes forever.

Trip Host

Paul Huttner

Paul Huttner is chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. He has worked for TV and radio stations in Minneapolis, Tucson and Chicago. Paul is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul and holds a bachelor’s degree in geography with an emphasis in meteorology.

Praise for Paul Huttner

“Paul is unique in the U.S. as an authoritative and curious radio broadcaster in a weather-obsessed state. He sounds like his audience, with the classic aww-shucks Midwestern mentality and accent. He is the only radio broadcast meteorologist to be regularly featuring climate science content, and he finds ways to engage with his audience rather than fall into the myriad political traps that haunt this beat. That’s not easy to pull off consistently, but he does. In short, MPR is lucky to have him.”

-Andrew Freedman, Senior Science Writer, Climate Central and Mashable

“Paul Huttner’s innovative Climate Cast program sets a high bar for public radio stations across the U.S. He has an uncanny ability to make the timely timeless, by fitting today’s breaking weather developments into the longer-range climate, and climate change, context. That he does so consistent with the world’s most authoritative scientific findings and evidence — and yet easily digestible by an engaged but non-expert audience — makes it all the more valuable to his audience. If only public radio audiences in other states had comparable access to such authoritative reporting and analysis on a regular basis.”

-Bud Ward, Editor, Yale Climate Connections


Day 1: Saturday, January 26 – Depart USA, Arrive Havana

Early this morning, depart for the airport to check in for the flight to Havana, Cuba. Your Cuban visa will be given to you when you check in for your flight. After clearing Cuban immigrations and customs, you will be welcomed by your Cuban National guide outside the terminal, who will assist with a private transfer to Old Havana (Habana Vieja) where you’ll sample some of Cuba’s traditional dishes in one of Havana’s charming old cafes. After lunch, our skilled local guide leads us on an insightful stroll through the colorful cobblestone streets of historic Havana. In the late afternoon, we’ll check into our hotel. Relax or enjoy a stroll on the waterfront before meeting your guide and host for a welcome dinner at one of Havana’s best known, privately owned paladars. Sleep in Havana (L, D)

Day 2: Sunday, January 27 – Botanical Gardens & National Art Schools

Early birds may wish to soak up the sun and walk along the Malecón before breakfast. The National Botanical Garden was officially inaugurated in January 1989, after more than 20 years of development. It opened to the public on March 24, 1984, thanks to the direct participation of workers, students and professors of the University of Havana, and students of technical institutes, who worked intensively for many months. Following a master plan rigorously established on scientific bases, they planted trees and grass and developed the phytogeographic zones and special collections in the approximately 600 hectares that are home to about 4,000 identified species, and almost 150,000 specimens. You’ll meet some of the gardeners who help maintain the botanical gardens in order to learn more about Cuba’s biodiversity. Next we will head to the National Art Schools (Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, now known as the Instituto Superior de Arte). These structures are considered by historians to be some of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. The innovative organic Catalan-vaulted brick and terra-cotta buildings were built on the site of a former country club in the far western Havana suburb of Cubanacán, which was once the “Beverly Hills” of Havana and was then mainly reserved for Communist Party officials. The schools were conceived and founded by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, and they reflect the utopian optimism and exuberance of the early years of the Cuban Revolution. In their years of active use, the schools served as the primary incubator for Cuba’s artists, musicians, actors and dancers. The schools’ design fell out of favor by 1965 and was nearly completely decommissioned until preservation efforts were mounted in force in the 1990s. Now tentatively on the list of World Heritage sites, they are in use, though still in various states of disrepair. Lunch today will be served at a restaurant in the elegant Miramar section of Havana. Then, we’ll savor a rum-tasting tour. Havana Club is a brand of rum created in Cuba in 1934 and is now one of the best-selling rum brands in the world. Originally produced in Cardenas, Cuba, by family-owned Jose Arechabala S.A., the brand was nationalized after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Since 1994, it has been produced in Cuba and sold globally (except the United States). We’ll have dinner together tonight. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

Day 3: Monday, January 28 – Las Terrazas and Orchid Garden

This morning we will depart early for Las Terrazas. The land of Las Terrazas is part of the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, which was created as a nature reserve by UNESCO in 1984. The 103-square-mile reserve is blanketed by secondary tropical forest and hosts a high concentration of flora and fauna, including over 800 types of plants and several endemic animal and bird species. En route we’ll travel through the lush countryside planted with sugar cane, corn, rice and taro. With few signs of modernization and with farming communities still harvesting by hand and using horse and carts to transport goods to free markets, the region seems set back in time. You’ll enjoy a tour of the community and learn about this protected area. Then, after a hearty rustic farm lunch, we’ll stop to visit the Soroa Orchid Botanical Garden. The world-famous garden has the largest collection of orchids in the world, including some 650 rare types of orchids, both native and exotic. We will also explore a nearby old plantation. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

Day 4: Tuesday, January 29 – Havana to Colonial Trinidad

After breakfast, we’ll depart for Cienfuegos province, also known as the “Pearl of the South.” Our first stop will be the Cienfuegos Botanical Garden. This hundred-year-old institution is the oldest of its kind in the country and showcases plants originating from all parts of the planet. The incomparable greenery envelops the whole garden and its palm collection is considered one of the most complete worldwide. Over a thousand species can be seen, from the exuberant Ceiba tree to an herbarium containing great varieties of the beautiful Caribbean flora. Due to its extensive collection these botanical gardens, have been declared a National Monument. In Cienfuegos, you’ll see remnants of French-style architecture built by immigrants from Bordeaux. The majority of the city, however, displays 19th-century early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning, and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for that reason. Upon arrival in Cienfuegos, we’ll take a brief city tour before enjoying lunch at the former Cienfuegos Yacht Club (Club Naútico de Cienfuegos) oceanside restaurant. After lunch, our journey will continue to colonial Trinidad. There will be time to freshen up before dinner. Sleep in Trinidad (B, L, D)

Day 5: Wednesday, January 30 – Trinidad and Topes de Collantes National Park

After breakfast, we’ll head off to the stunning and lush Topes de Collantes National Park. Boasting caves, rivers, falls, grottos, canyons and natural pools with crystal-clear water, this is a park for nature lovers! Traveling by old Soviet open-air trucks, we’ll drive on dirt roads into the mountains. Our destination is a rustic farm house where we’ll enjoy a pig roast luncheon and head off for a nature walk. In the afternoon, we’ll soak up the sites in old colonial Trinidad, have an opportunity to attend a music performance and visit a ceramic workshop. Dinner will be out on the town this evening. Sleep in Trinidad (B, L, D)

Day 6: Thursday, January 31 – Return to Havana via Che’s Mausoleum and a Cigar Factory

En route back to Havana, we’ll stop in the town of Santa Clara to learn more about one of the 20th century’s most complex and controversial figures, Che Guevara. The Mausoleo Che Guevara is a memorial that houses the remains of executed Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and 29 of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during Guevara’s attempt to spur an armed uprising in Bolivia. The monument contains a bronze 22-foot statue of Guevara, who was buried with full military honors on October 17, 1997, after his exhumed remains were discovered in Bolivia and returned to Cuba. At the site, there is also a museum dedicated to Guevara’s life and an eternal flame lit by Fidel Castro in Che’s memory. Santa Clara was chosen as the location in remembrance of Guevara’s troops taking the city on December 31, 1958, during the Battle of Santa Clara. This final battle of the Cuban Revolution resulted in Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fleeing into exile. Time permitting, we’ll stop and visit a cigar factory before returning to the hotel this afternoon. We’ll dine in another paladar this evening. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

Day 7: Friday, February 1 – Organic Farm Visit and a Day with Hemingway

Our day will begin with an exploration of an open-air fruit and vegetable market. After, we’ll visit the UBPC Organopónico Vivero Alamar, 15 kilometers east of Havana. It’s one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba raising ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, and millions of seedlings for neighboring residential and collective farms. Established in the early 1990s by a dozen people, today the Alamar cooperative has over 400 members and provides a range of healthy, organic vegetables to nearby communities. Produce is raised employing the practice of permaculture: no chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, natural biological methods are used to nourish the soil, frustrate pests and conserve water. The result is an increased rate of yield and reduced costs. After lunch we’ll head off to visit Finca Vigía (Lookout Farm), where North America’s literary giant, Ernest Hemingway, spent 21 of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Before returning to Havana, we’ll stop by the quaint fishing village of Cojímar, which served as the setting for The Old Man and the Sea. You’ll enjoy a farewell dinner out on the town with your host Paul Huttner and toast to an amazing Cuba adventure! Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

Day 8: Saturday, February 2 – Depart Cuba

We’ll transfer to Havana’s José Martí Airport, where we check in for our flight home. Buen Viaje! (B)

Highlights in Your Journey

  • Hosted by Paul Huttner, chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio
  • Pre-trip dinner at MPR Headquarters in downtown St. Paul
  • Accompanied by an Earthbound program director
  • An expert bilingual Cuban guide
  • Accommodations as listed in your itinerary
  • Cuban government emergency medical insurance plan up to $1,000 while in Cuba
  • Multi-course traditional meals as listed in your itinerary (many at top paladars)
  • Opportunities to visit music schools and meet the musicians and ballet dancers
  • Bottled water daily and national drinks (local beers and mojitos)
  • Live music while dining and an included evening jazz concert
  • A rum tasting and a cigar-making demonstration
  • Transport by private motor coach while in Cuba
  • Special insider “People to People” experiences
  • Gratuities for your driver and guides
  • Alumni discounts applied toward future trips with Minnesota Public Radio

Pricing and Terms

$4,995 per person double occupancy $595 Single Supplement (waived if you are willing to share and a roommate is found) Trip begins: January 26, 2019 in Havana, Cuba Trip ends: February 2, 2019 in Havana, Cuba Optional Group Air from Minneapolis - St. Paul to Havana will be available for purchase

MPR and Earthbound alumni save $100. Reserve by August 1, 2018 and save $50. Pay your final balance by check and save $100.

Need more information?

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