Santa Fe College Foundation offers trip to Cuba


Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.

Think you're a Hemingway superfan? The Santa Fe College Foundation has the spring vacation for you.

The foundation has organized a weeklong trip to Cuba during the end of March, complete with a private tour of the Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway's estate outside of Havana, with narration by the son of the beloved author's butler and friend.

The tour group also will visit a tobacco plantation in the Cuban countryside, see a variety of music and dance performances, visit several museums and cultural institutions, and tour Old Havana with an architect.

"I wanted this to be a trip of a lifetime for these folks," said Mike Curry, assistant vice president for development at SF College.

Curry's lifelong fascination with Hemingway led him to bring Raul Villareal, the visual artist, author and son of Hemingway's mayordomo, to Gainesville earlier this year for a fundraiser.

As Curry hosted more Hemingway events, he said, patrons and donors to the foundation started to express interest in making a trip to Cuba.

As it turned out, that dream was viable despite the United States' restrictions on travel to Cuba.

A People-to-People Cultural Exchange License issued to Latin Art Space Travel Programs, a travel organization sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Office of Foreign Assets Control, made the trip possible. The license allows American citizens to travel to Cuba for cultural purposes. Visitors from the U.S. can't take advantage of the resorts and beaches, Curry said, but there's plenty of room to visit cultural and historical establishments.

"It's an interesting dynamic, because not many people talk about it," he said. "But you can go."

Per Florida statute, no state college or university can use state money to send anyone to Cuba.

The trip will cost $4,550 to $4,995 depending on the type of hotel room a guest requests.

The all-inclusive price includes round-trip airfare from Miami to Havana, seven nights in the Hotel Santa Isabel in Old Havana, meals during the eight-day trip, transportation, mandatory medical insurance, a Cuban visa and people-to-people license, and entrance fees to attractions and events.

Curry said six of the 11 reserved hotel rooms are already filled up. The deadline to sign up for the trip is Jan. 4.

For more information, call the office of development at 395-5200.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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