HOPEWELL VALLEY: Chamber is Cuba bound again

By Frank Mustac, Special Writer
More and more Americans are beginning to travel Cuba now that diplomatic relations between the United States and that Caribbean island nation are on the mend.
Come mid-September, members of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce and the local business community will be traveling to Cuba’s capital city, Havana, and the country’s rural and scenic Vinales Valley for the second time since 2013.
The MIDJersey Chamber includes a Hopewell Valley Chapter.
“It’s a real all-encompassing social, educational, cultural, people-to-people kind of trip,” MIDJersey Chamber President-CEO Robert Prunetti said about the all-inclusive “Discover Cuba” tour his organization is coordinating for about 30 travelers.
The Sept. 15-21 trip starts in Miami with an orientation session at a hotel there. The next day, it’s on to the Cuban capital for a guided walking tour of pedestrian-only Old Havana, plus a variety of cultural activities including a visit to the Cuban Institute of Music and Hemingway’s Farm, about 15 miles from Havana. The farm, called Finca La Vigía (meaning “lookout house”), was the home of American novelist and Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway.
“When I went the first time, it was fabulous — the people, the food, the culture are just absolutely amazing,” he said. “Since we went, now about two years ago, there have been more changes there and, obviously, changes in our country, too.”
Mr. Prunetti described Cuba’s rural Vinales Valley, where there will be scheduled visits to a tobacco farm and a cigar factory, as “an absolutely gorgeous beautiful region.”
Talking about the goal of the trip, he said, “What we hope to accomplish is just a better understanding of the Cuban people and the changes that are happening in Cuba right now. We hope to just establish that cultural exchange, educational exchange, a better understanding of where Cuba is today versus where it was a decade ago and part of the history of Cuba as well.”
The “Discover Cuba” trip is open to anyone, Mr. Prunetti said, and there still may be availability come mid-July.
“You don’t have to be a chamber member,” he said. “All you need to be is interested in going to Cuba. After July 15 or so, we’ll see how many seats are left. We’ll keep it open as long as there are seats available.”
For more information about the trip, contact Jeff Richardson by email at jeff@midjerseychamber.org or call 609-689-9960, ext. 16.
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