The Stars of Western Cuba February 4 - 11, 2017

Through a relaxation in U.S. State Department travel restrictions, it is now possible for Americans to visit one of the most intriguing destinations in our hemisphere, Cuba. Although several companies are now offering visits to Cuba, almost all of their itineraries are confined to Havana. Our voyage includes much of western Cuba as well as Havana. A nation is invariably greater than its capital.

In an effort to promote improved understanding between the citizens of Cuba and the United States, our program will focus especially on the history, art, architecture, and music of Cuba as well as two natural history destinations. Over the 8 days of the program, we'll examine many issues as well as Cuba's extraordinary architectural and artistic treasures-from the faded colonial grandeur of Havana to the bayside charms of Cienfuegos-on an exciting journey aboard the Variety Voyager. We'll begin with three days in Cuba's historic capital, Havana, where vintage cars roll past towering cathedrals and art deco masterpieces. Later we'll admire the lush scenery of Guanahacabibes, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve brimming with colorful wildlife, and then explore the turtle sanctuary at Cayo Largo, a secluded limestone island fringed with white sand beaches. We'll stroll the cobbled streets framed by pastel mansions in Trinidad, Cuba's Spanish colonial showpiece, and delve into the rich French heritage of Cienfuegos, the "Pearl of the South." All along the way, enjoy insider access to unique cultural activities and opportunities to interact with diverse Cuban citizens, including artists, musicians, historians, naturalists, and more.

The 72-passenger Variety Voyager combines contemporary style with relaxed charm. With the inclusion of most meals, superb accommodations, and cultural expertise throughout, this educational cruise is a remarkable value.

Traveling With You

Mark Rush and Florinda Ruiz

Mark Rush and Florinda Ruiz have been married since 1988. They met at Johns Hopkins where they received their Ph.Ds in Politics and Classics, respectively. Mark has been in the Politics Department at Washington and Lee since 1990. After spending a three-year leave as Dean of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Sharjah in the U.A.E., Mark returned to Washington and Lee and became Director of the Center for International Education in 2015. He has written extensively on law and elections in the United States and around the world. His current work focuses on the globalization of liberal education. In his spare time, he writes baseball analysis for Flor, a native of Madrid, Spain, retired as an associate professor of Spanish and Classics from Roanoke College. During their three years in the Middle East, she worked as a translator for the Sheikh of the emirate of Sharjah and applied her passion for photography in her travels. Her collection "Women beyond Western Borders," which offered a glimpse into diverse roles of women from India, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Kenya, Egypt, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE, was exhibited in W&L's Huntley Hall during the fall and winter 2014-2015. Flor is now director of Washington and Lee's Writing Program and has taught writing and Spanish at the college. Flor and Mark have two sons. William (26) graduated from Boston College and NYU and serves as assistant director of student activities at St. Peter's University in Jersey City. He will be married in July, 2017. Alex (17) will graduate from Rockbridge County High School this spring. Their lives are dominated now by a 12 lb. pup named Humphrey.