Arts and Entertainment

Next stop, Cuba: Island travelers plan trip to Hemingway’s island home

A Winslow merchant is offering to take islanders down south, and then down a little farther, to one of the more difficult travel destinations for Americans.

Watch out Cuba, here comes Bainbridge Island.

“Here’s this island 60 miles off the coast of Florida that’s been so much a part of national news for a long time and yet not a lot of people of recent generations have ever visited there,” said Barbara Toliver, co-owner of The Traveler on Winslow Way.

Toliver and Susan Taylor are planning a trip to the semi-forbidden country from Nov. 9-18.

“Travel is opening up to Cuba,” Toliver said. “As travel is opening up, we wanted to experience Cuba before it changes too much. I’ve read that Cuba will eventually open up to development and it will be really interesting to see it before that happens.”

The trip is slated to take between 15 and 30 people. Travelers must apply for a special visa for the trip so Toliver and Taylor are currently registering people for the journey.

“It’s going to be everything from experiencing architecture, music, dancing from salsa to ballet, including a chance to even practice dancing among ourselves,” Toliver said. “We will visit organic farms and see how they are trying to enhance the environment through paying attention to ecology.”

It will be the first trip that The Traveller has ever organized.

“We do sort of everything but the ticket,” Toliver said of her store. “We do information and travel accessories and clothing but we’ve never booked a trip. This just seemed like a wonderful thing to do.”

Toliver, however, won’t be handling the trip solo. Earthbound Expeditions will be handling the particulars of the trip. The Bainbridge-based travel company has been licensed to take groups to Cuba since 2012. So far, Earthbound Expeditions has taken four groups.

Travel to Cuba has been difficult for Americans due to a U.S. embargo on the country, but a journey there is possible as long as it is approved as a people-to-people trip. In other words, the trip must constitute an educational or cultural experience, as opposed to a beach-bumming vacation.

Travelers will certainly get a dose of Cuban culture. The 10-days and nine-nights program is packed with experiences around Havana, salsa dance lessons, farm visits, museums, and tours of acclaimed artists homes such as Polo Montanez and writer Ernest Hemingway.

The unique trip has its price, of course; $4,150 to be exact. The prices includes meals, a Cuban guide, a director from Earthbound Expeditions, lodging, daily bottled water and more.

Interested islanders can contact The traveler at info@thetraveler.com.

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