Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic leaders had briefed passengers on the 150-foot motor-sailor Panorama II about the Isle of Juventud (Youth), once a haven for pirates, then a place for exiled undesirables and later for 150,000 students from overseas learning about the values of post-revolutionary Cuba.
Today, Juventud is relatively isolated from the rest of Cuba, so it gets few foreign visitors, and our presence, we were told, would cause heads to turn.
When we arrived on the eighth of our 11 days in Cuba, we turned heads, but not at the empty and deteriorated Presidio Modelo, and its hospital where Fidel Castro and fellow revolutionaries were imprisoned 1953-1955 after a failed attack on Cuba’s troops.
We did encounter curious children and dozens of adults later, in the city of Nueva Gerona, starting with a delightful visit to Escuela de Arte Leonardo Luberta, a music school for gifted children.
We walked El Búlevar, a pedestrian-only boulevard where city residents turned out to line the street to watch us watch a terrific show.
Models dressed in minimalist pirate’s clothing made of newspapers.
Two local bands greeted us. One played for a presentation by children of a local folkloric dance, sucusucú, and passengers were drawn into the dance.
The second band performed music of the Santeria Church as dancers representing the orishas, Yemayá and Eleggua, swirled.
Next: American travelers bump into Cuba’s rules at remote port for Isla de la Juventud
Photo by David G. Molyneaux, TheTravelMavens.com
David Molyneaux writes regularly about cruising news, tips and trends at TravelMavenBlog.com. His cruise trends column is published in U.S. newspapers, including the Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, and on Internet sites, including AllThingsCruise. He is editor of TheTravelMavens.com