Isle of Youth, Cuba

One of our travelers engages with school kids on main street in Nueva Gerona, Isle of Youth, Cuba.

Dec 13, 2017 – Harmony V, Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic

We awoke in the sleepy harbor of Siguanea Bay under a beautiful clear sky as our day of exploration started in the Isle of Youth.  We boarded a local boat that brought us to shore.  The Isle of Youth is hardly developed and scantly populated.  There are stories of this island’s enchantment to have inspired many throughout history because of it’s beauty and remoteness.

Our party departed on a local bus to our first destination: the infamous Modelo Prison.  This prison, built in 1939, housed thousands of prisoners, but perhaps the most famous was Fidel Castro himself.  The large rounded buildings now abandoned served as a perfect backdrop to spectacular imagery and a stellar photo opportunity to all.  We learned about its history and were quickly enamored by the mystery of the entire social context for which it once functioned.  We were delighted to have a picture perfect day for photography and history.

Following our visit to Modelo prison we arrived just before lunch to a clinic that supports pregnant woman at risk. We engaged in a deep discussion of childbirth, prenatal care and statistics in the Isle as well as Cuba.  We visited several woman who happened to be patients at the clinic and were politely greeted by the patients and the staff.  It was important to have this close encounter with people in need, and to learn about the medical system that supports them.

After a tasty lunch, we strolled into the capital of the Isle of Youth, Nueva Gerona.  We had multiple people-to-people interactions as we walked down the main boulevard.  We spoke to locals walking the streets, those working as barbers and businessmen, students and store keepers.

Our walk finally led us to the provincial art school, center for art and creativity for kids ages 6 to 16.  We visited the music and dance rooms, witnessed rehearsals by the students, and were engaged in a vibrant atmosphere as we exchanged conversation with students and teachers alike.

After our visit we boarded the bus and headed back to harbor where we embarked on the small boat that took us to Harmony V as the crew greeted us with cocktails, short recaps by the Lindblad staff, and dinner.  A great day indeed.

About the Author

Fabio Amador

Fabio Amador

NATURALIST/CERTIFIED PHOTO INSTRUCTORFabio (Fe) Amador is a Senior Program Officer for the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, which is dedicated to funding exploratory research around the world. He has traveled and worked extensively throughout Latin America and is presently collaborating with research projects in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Peru, El Salvador, and Madagascar. He has also traveled regularly to Cuba over the past five years on educational and scientific missions for National Geographic. As a trained archaeologist, his interest in Taino Indian culture (which spanned the Greater Antilles, including Cuba) is focused on the sacred landscape and the use of caves for ritual activity. In his role at National Geographic, Fabio uses imaging and visualization technologies to provide new ways of capturing data and to document the experience of conducting research and exploration. His initiative in supporting worldwide research has resulted in a workshop titled The Art of Communicating Science. This capacity building initiative is aimed at students, scholars, explorers, government agencies, and stewards of the cultural and natural patrimony, so that they can be trained in how to develop, design and use imaging technology to document, protect, and communicate the importance of their heritage through exploration, discovery, and storytelling. Fe’s continued effort in communicating science has allowed him to use photography, cinematography, and other multimedia tools to reach large audiences through his public lectures at universities, presentations at international scientific and professional symposia, publications in scholarly journals and on National Geographic’s Explorers Journal and NatGeo News Watch online blogs.

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