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Cuba Visit


These blog posts recount my trip to Cuba in March, 2012, for background research for my next Frontera novel, The Blood Star Frontier.  Note, this was three years before Obama and Castro reopened relations between the USA and Cuba. My tour was arranged by the Center for Cuban Studies,  conducted in Cuba by Amistur; my participation was funded by GLCA New Directions.

>>Photos are here.<<

Blog posts during trip:

Caught in Havana
Havana has no street lights

Biological preserve, and a shocking question
Two views in Havana
A synagogue and a mad artist
Literacy, transgender, and the Playstation

Recommended links:
Voces Cubanas
Havana Cultura
Center for Cuban Studies

People Photos by Celia (member of our tour)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura Runyen-Janecky permalink
    April 28, 2013 10:06 pm


    I enjoyed reading about your impressions of Cuba on your blog. I, too, had the opportunity to visit Cuba as part of the University of Richmond Faculty Seminar Program in May 2011 with some of my UR colleagues across all disciplines. It was a fascinating trip.

    Best regards,
    Laura Runyen-Janecky
    Department of Biology, University of Richmond

    • April 28, 2013 10:25 pm

      Thanks, Laura. Cuba is a fascinating place, full of paradoxes and a rich cultural history. Their history of medical care was especially interesting. I’m using this material to develop the next book in my Frontera series, The Blood Star Frontier.

  2. Laura Runyen-Janecky permalink
    April 28, 2013 10:39 pm

    Joan – I loved your book “The Highest Frontier”. It actually came up recently in a conversation about 3-D printing in at a meeting for an interdisciplinary first year science class I am teaching next year at UR (we used 3-D printing to design an apparatus for an experiment for the class). I’m looking forward to the next book.

    Although our UR trip was multidisciplinary (we met with artists, historians, and writers), I, too, was especially interested in the health care in Cuba, especially in comparison to the health care in the rest of the Caribbean (my trip also took us to Jamaica, Trinidad, and Panama). We were fortunate to get to meet with a representative of the Ministry of Health while we were there. For me, the challenging part about Cuba was separating the “party-line” statements from what actually happens in Cuba. Nonetheless, it was still informative.

    • April 29, 2013 9:16 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the book; and I’m very excited about 3D printing. There is even work toward 3D printing of living cells.

      In Cuba, what helped for me was that I’d spent a year contacting non-governmental Cubans, including an “independent blogger.” So while we were there I met with people who oppose the regime. About health care, I concluded that Cuba is very good at public health measures that don’t cost much, such as universal vaccinations. They lack things that cost money, and run out of essential items. With the embargo, they can’t purchase anything that has a part made in the USA.

  3. September 28, 2014 2:11 pm

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