Cuba| Mia St John
Join former World Boxing Champion, humanitarian, and Playboy model, Mia St John, plus renowned Cuba expert, National Geographic author & photographer and news personality Christopher P. Baker, on an unique boxing tour.
Dates: TBA, 2017
Cost: $5,995 (Double Occupancy)
Cuba punches far above its weight in boxing. No other country has won as many boxing gold medals at the Olympics (32 to be precise). This special program will focus on studying and experiencing the world of boxing in Cuba (where since the 1959 Revolution all boxing has been amateur and professional boxing has been banned), providing an exciting opportunity to meet some of Cuba’s “greats.” You’ll also marvel at the threadbare gyms where boxers train with unparalleled discipline and dedication; and discover what it is that fuels Cuba’s unbridled and unrivaled passion for the sport.
We’ll also visit community development projects that echo Mia’s own humanitarian passions (focusing on art and health therapy) to support nurturing and healthy communities, especially among socially and economically disadvantaged youth.
Plus, we’ll immerse ourselves in Cuba’s endlessly fascinating world of socialism and sensuality as we experience the eccentricity and enigma of Havana and Cuba in the company of Mia’s close friend, renowned Cuban expert, author, and celebrity news personality Christopher P. Baker.
This one-of-a-kind program is offered under the “people to people” educational exchange license granted by the U.S. Treasury Department and is subject to regulations requiring a full itinerary of engagements with Cubans resulting in “meaningful interaction.”
Day 1 | Miami/Havana Begin your journey by meeting a Cross Cultural Journeys representative at the Miami International Airport who will assist you and the other members of your group through check-in. Meet your Cuban guide when you exit the airport. Lunch at famed El Ajibe, known for their delicious traditional Cuban cuisine, most notably their special chicken recipe. After lunch head out for a tour of Plaza de la Revolución and the guide will point out key sights in Havana. Then check-in to your hotel or casa particular, private homes. Dinner will be at La Guarida—Havana’s most famous, and perhaps finest, restaurant. Havana Accommodation (L/D)
HAVANA, is the hub of one of the world’s greatest natural harbors. A showcase of the wealth, power, and sophistication of Cuba from the time of it’s 16th century founding as the greatest port of New Spain. Today, it is a place of beautiful decay and the stirrings of change, along with all the best in Cuban art, music and culture.
Day 2 |Havana After breakfast at the hotel or casa particular, meet with Alberto Puig de la Barca, the president of the Cuban Boxing Federation, and/or Antonio Castro, head of Cuba’s Olympic Commission, for a Q&A overview of boxing in Cuba. After the interaction, venture out into the streets on a walking tour of Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Havana’s remarkable colonial core, meeting local people along the way. Lunch at Mama Ines (or an equivalent). After lunch we will visit the Gimnasio Rafael Trejo (in a derelict outdoor space in southern Habana Vieja) to witness local boxers training at Cuba’s premier training ground for young boxers. Travelers who are boxers will have a chance to train alongside the Cubans! Then we will meet with the Rev. Gilbert Walker, an American Catholic priest who has been working in Cuba since 2003. We will learn about his humanitarian work at Iglesia Merced, which is just opposite the Gimnasio Rafael Trejo. Rev. Gilbert Walker’s charity works with youths from broken families and helps them find hope in Havana’s hard economic realities. Dinner will be at Atelier restaurant. Havana Accommodation (B/L/D)
Day 3 | Havana After breakfast at the hotel or casa particular, you will visit the Escuela de Initiación Deportiva Escolar Mártires de Barbados (Sports Initiation School), in Cotorro, a neighborhood of Havana, to learn about the Cuban Boxing School system and meet some of the students. Lunch will be at Il Divino. After lunch visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s primary residence from 1939 to 1960, where Hemingway penned much of his classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Take a private tour of the Museo Hemingway with Christopher’s close friend and museum director, Ada Rosa Alfonso. In the late afternoon, you can enjoy a performance by La Colmenita, a world-renowned children’s community theater. This group started during Cuba’s “Special period”, the desperate economic plight of the early 1990s, as a way to develop and encourage children’s creativity and self-assurance. Dinner is on your own. Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 4 | Havana After breakfast at the hotel or casa particular, we have the pleasure of meeting Félix Savón, winner of three Olympic gold medals (in Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney) and six world titles. We will meet him at his home in the Fontanar district of Miramar, Havana. Then we will experience the remarkable Fusterlandia, a community art project, full of murals, sculptures and more. Lunch will be at Casa-Estudio Fuster OR Santy, Jaimanitas. In the afternoon we will visit the Cuban national boxing team’s training center, located outside Havana, to meet Cuba’s Olympic hopefuls. There will be a Q&A with the national boxing team coach (and former four-time Olympic champion!) Juan Hernández Sierra, as well as Dr. Rafael Lerena, the team doctor. Traveler who are boxers may have a chance to train with Cuba’s future and former Olympians! Dinner at El Litoral Havana Accommodation (B/L/D)
Day 5 |Havana/ Las Terrazas After breakfast we head west to visit the UNESCO Heritage planned community of Las Terrazas, an ecological community focused on sustainable living and environmentally friendly farming practices in the Sierra del Rosario mountains. There we will have a guided community tour with Oscar Campos. Lunch will be at the Eco-Restaurante El Romero. In the afternoon you will be able to take advantage of the outdoor activities such as guided hiking, horseback riding, and/or biking in the mountains. We will return to Havana in the early evening. Dinner is on your own. Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 6 | Havana After breakfast we will make a morning visit to a cigar factory to see how the world’s finest cigars are made. Then we will visit Gimnasio de Neptuno to work out with fisiculturistas (body-builders), including female boxer and fisicultura Caridad Villa Castro. Lunch will be at La Bonita. After lunch we will attend a remarkable session of music and dance by Habana Compás with its unique fusion of flamenco and Afro-Cuban dance that is unique to anything else in Cuba. The rest of the afternoon you can spend as you wish with much coveted free time to explore anything you wish in Havana. Dinner on your own. Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 7 | Havana After breakfast we will meet for Q&A with Namibia Flores, Cuba’s only female boxer and Olympic hopeful. Then experience a demo match between Mia St. John and Namibia Flores at Gimnasio Rafael Freyre… your ringside seat is definitely worth the price of admission! Lunch is on your own as the rest of the afternoon is self-directed. We will enjoy a farewell dinner at VIP Havana followed by a musical and dance sensation at the Tropicana Cabaret. Havana Accommodation (B/D)
Day 8 | Havana / Miami Following breakfast, we bid Cuba farewell as we transfer to the airport for our flight to Miami then onward flights home. (B)
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Cuba... to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or Accommodations may change in similar category.
INCLUDED: Round trip airfare Miami–Havana; Cuba visa; Cuba airport departure tax; Cuba medical insurance policy; Seven nights accommodations (double occupancy) in premium hotels or casa particulares; All breakfasts; Lunches and dinners as indicated (L/D on itinerary); Airport transfers in Cuba; Bilingual Cuban guide; Entrances at venues as indicated on itinerary; people to people events as described in ‘Highlights’; Pre-tour preparation materials; Expertise of Christopher P. Baker and Mia St. John as trip leaders
NOT INCLUDED: Airfare or transportation to start of tour in Miami; Accommodation in Miami on the nights preceding/after the tour; Meals not listed in the itinerary; Alcoholic beverage; Tips to staff; Trip cancellation/interruption insurance; Medical evacuation insurance; Other inclusions not specified
Dates: TBA, 2017
Cost: $5,995 (Double Occupancy)
Add: $500 (Single Supplement)
MIA ST JOHN is the one of the most famous and popular competitors in women’s boxing today, as well as a leading humanitarian and charitable sponsor. Born in San Francisco, California in 1967, Mia began her fighting career at the age of six, competing in Tae Kwon Do, in which she later earned a black belt. After receiving a degree in psychology, Mia decided to pursue her true passion full-time. In 1997, she made her pro-debut in boxing, knocking out her opponent in fifty-four seconds into the first round. Mia signed with Don King before later signing with Top Rank, for which she spent four years opening all of Oscar De La Hoya’s major fights. After accumulating an unheard of boxing record of nearly 60 pro fights, in 2008 Mia became the WBC International Boxing Champion of the World at the age of 40. In August 2012, Mia beat Christy Martin and, at the age of 45, became the WBC Super Welter Weight Champion of the World. She continues to box professionally.
She was presented with the “WBC Goodwill Ambassador” Award from The World Boxing Council. In 2015, Mia was named by CNN, “Mental Health Warrior”, along with eight other inspiring people.
NAMIBIA FLORES is Cuba’s only female boxer. During our exciting 8-day program, Mia St. John will spar with Namibia Flores, who defies Fidel Castro’s ban on female boxing to follow her dream of Olympic glory. We’ll meet with this inspiring lady, whose harrowing journey against insurmountable odds to become Cuba’s first female boxer is revealed in the recently released documentary Boxeadora.
CHRISTOPHER P BAKER California-based journalist Christopher has made a career as a professional travel writer, photographer, lecturer, tour escort and moto-journalist since 1983. Christopher—the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year’—has been honored with many awards, including ‘Travel Journalist of the Year’ by both the Caribbean Tourism Organization andJamaica Tourist Board. He has been acclaimed by National Geographic as one of the world’s leading Cuba travel experts. He appears frequently on radio and television talk shows throughout North America and has provided TV and radio interviews and commentary for ABC, Al Jazeera, BBC, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, CCTV, CNN, Fox News Channel, the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC, plus NPR, among many other radio programs.