Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Motorcycle Tours of Cuba for U.S. citizens launched
In my blog post of April 3, 2012, I announced that Texas-based motorcycle adventure tour company MotoDiscovery had been granted a license by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that will permit the company to offer the first-ever legal motorcycle tours of Cuba.
As MotoDiscovery founder and owner Skip Mascorro writes on his company website: “This is a fulfillment that is years in the making; to be able to offer legal tours of Cuba on motorcycles for citizens of the USA… And what does this mean? You can fly direct from Miami to Havana and enjoy Cuba knowing that you are traveling within the law.”
I’ve been intimately involved with setting this up together with Skip and Mexican-born business partner Juan Stanglemaier, and I’m thrilled to be leading four of the tours.
All that has been left is to figure out the itineraries, dates, and what bikes we’ll be using.
A key factor in planning itineraries has been OFAC’s requirement that all “people-to-people” licensed “tours” (which are officially termed “educational exchange programs”) is that they include a full schedule of “educational exchanges” with Cubans resulting in meaningful interactions.
While we expect to have plenty of serendipitous daily encounters with Cubans from all walks of life, OFAC’s legal requirement means that we can also look forward to formal structured meetings that grant us a far more in-depth understanding of Cuban society than would otherwise be the case.
In planning the itineraries, I’ve used my profound knowledge of the island tip to toe to include some of the very best experiences I can think of.
Thus, on the “10-day Cuban Light Adventure” itinerary of Western Cuba, we’ll visit Finca Robaina, a private tobacco farm where the owner Hiroshi Robaina, will give us a lesson in Tobacco 101 in the fields and curing sheds of this world-renowned farm. And in the city of Cienfuegos, we plan on visiting with the principal and students of the Instituto del Arte Benny Moré, where we’ll gain insights into Cuba’s educational system and learn the secret to its astounding accomplishments in the arts.
Our 14-day all-Cuba adventure will take us from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and the eastern tip of Cuba—a chance to explore places relatively few U.S. visitors have ever seen. Not least, we’ll ride our bikes to Sitio Histórico Finca Birán—the birthplace and childhood home of Fidel and Raúl Castro—and up and over La Farola—the switchback mountain road that leads from Guantánamo to Baracoa, the oldest city in Cuba, founded in 1512.
Both itineraries guarantee a fantastic adventure!
Needless to say, on both itineraries we’ll meet and ride with Cuba’s famous harlistas—wildly enthusiastic owners of vintage Harleys who keep their hogs running with wizardry and remarkable ingenuity.
As to the bikes… MotoDiscovery has partnered with a European company that has Harley-Davidson’s available in Cuba for our use for the early tours. We’re also planning to have BMW enduros—possibly F800s and, ideally, some GS and GSAs—available for use on the later tours.
More details, including dates for the 14-day tours, plus prices, will be available on my and the MotoDiscovery websites as soon as we confirm the details.
However, it’s not too early to reserve your participation in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity NOW!
These programs are guaranteed to sell out fast.
To get you in the mood, be sure to buy an autographed hardback copy of Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba , available only direct from me… the author.
If you’re excited and ready to visit this fascinating Caribbean island, buy my Moon Cuba--the most information-packed, traveler-friendly guidebook out there.
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana.
Looking for the perfect coffee-table book gift item? Buy an autographed hardback copy of Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles direct from the author.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker