Tag Archives: Cuban Heritage Tour

Peter Morrell Shares his Eye-Opening South Florida Experience

South Florida has had a bad reputation as a cultural wasteland for a long time. Part of Dragonfly Expeditions’ mission is to change that perception and to show our guests the different aspects of South Florida culture. Therefore we were happy to see a different kind of message on The Cultural Voyager. This is a website that strives to bring to its readers the latest news about world travel and maintains the belief that cultural exploration should be the focus of any vacation. If you pull up the website, you will be greeted by an assortment of brilliant images accompanying articles about topics such as the world’s most famous mummy, an artist in Cornwall, and a cultural celebration in Amsterdam. But the image at the top of the page looks familiar; that’s because it’s a shot of Miami Beach.

Peter Morrell, editor of the website, visited Miami in December 2012 and participated in one of our most popular activities: the Cuban Heritage Tour. Morrell’s stay in Miami prompted him to write “A Cultural Odyssey in Florida,” an article that was recently published on The Cultural Voyager. It is the first of a series of articles he is writing about Florida culture. Morrell’s piece was also published on About My Generation, a website that aims to inspire, inform, and motivate readers over age 50. The caption at the top of Morrell’s article resonates with Dragonfly Expeditions’ idea of Florida: “Peter Morrell finds that there is a lot more to the Sunshine State than beaches and theme parks…”

Click here to read Morrell’s article about his visit to the Magic City and keep in mind that Dragonfly Expeditions offers several experiences that focus on Florida’s diverse culture and art.

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A First-Hand Account of the Cuban Heritage Tour

The following article was written by Jerry Luciani, a staff writer for TravelGuys who experienced the Cuban Heritage Tour led by Charles Kropke. We wanted to share Jerry’s article with you because it provides a different and very detailed perspective on one of Dragonfly Expeditions’ most popular tours.

 Read the full article here:

“A look at the real Miami, from Miami Beach to Little Havana”

Miami, it’s the place where the rich and famous go to play. The place where fancy cars and beautiful people are outdone only by the glorious buildings done up in soft pastels and glowing neon. But there’s more to this city in the sun than Ferraris and fashion. A short drive from the beach will take you to another world: Little Havana, epicenter of the Cuban culture that has become as much a part of the city’s character as the art deco hotels lining Ocean Drive.

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The Story of an Abandoned Cuban Raft

During a recent Great Discoveries on the Bay kayak tour, my group paddled by what looked like an inflatable dinghy.  At first glance it appeared to be moored just outside the swimming area off the Rickenbacker Causeway’s south side.  Yeraldine, the other guide, mentioned that it looked like a raft used by balseros, or those who had escaped and floated over from Cuba.  Our group paddled over to investigate.  Although we didn’t find any passengers, we did find items such as water bottles, canned food, and lotion.  After maneuvering our kayaks around the watercraft to inspect it from every angle, we continued on with the tour.  As we kayaked through the waves and the wind, we discussed the ecology of Biscayne Bay and the cultural history of Miami, focusing on Villa Vizcaya, multiple bay front mansions, La Ermita de Caridad and the general history of the area.

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University of Miami Family Weekend 2011

For the second straight year, Dragonfly Expeditions partnered with the University of Miami Family Weekend program to provide new students and their families the opportunity to explore Miami and its surroundings on our tours.

The five tours that were offered throughout the weekend featured Miami’s Cuban Heritage, the historic Miami City Cemetery, Kayaking on Biscayne Bay, and two Miccosukee Indian Heritage airboat tours.

The goal of the partnership between the University of Miami and Dragonfly Expeditions is to showcase Miami as a metropolis with historical, ecological and cultural treasures beyond its usual party reputation. Here are some quotes from participants:

“Very interesting information. Loved it!” – Xavier, Cuban Heritage Tour

“Very informative and a beautiful way to see the bay” – Ann, Great Discoveries on the Bay – A Kayak Tour

“Fabulous trip, tour guide was superb. Airboat was so relaxing. Great way to see nature at it’s best!” – Sheila, Miccosukee Indian Heritage Tour

Dragonfly Expeditions would like to send a special thank you to the University of Miami Family Weekend staff (Brian Orefice, Danielle Howard, and Carrie Whiteside) for their amazing work and dedication in ensuring that our partnership was again a success. We are looking forward to Family Weekend 2012.

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Goodbye to Our Dear Friend Ramon Puig

Dragonfly Expeditions, with great sadness, notes the passing of a good and trusted friend whom we had the honor to visit many times on our Cuban Heritage Tour. On April 29th, 2011, Ramon Puig of Casa de las Guayaberas went home to his heavenly reward.  He was 90 years old.  The idea of “going home” for Ramon Puig holds a good deal of irony.  He spent the last 42 years of his life in exile.  Leaving Cuba at the age of 48 after having his store confiscated without compensation, Ramon had already developed a reputation as a gifted tailor.  Using a pair of precision stainless-steel scissors which were already 40 years old when, as a young man, he saved up the money to buy them, Ramon hand-crafted traditional four pocket Guayabera shirts.

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The Maxoly Gallery

The Maxoly / Latin Art Core Gallery has been a mainstay visit on Dragonfly Expeditions’ popular Cuban Heritage Tour and is a continuation of a long family tradition.  Partners Maximo Sarracino and Israel Moleiro come from a family which represents three generations of Cuban art specialists.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, their family worked with many established and emerging Cuban artists in Havana.  This world ended with the Castro revolution.  Israel grew up in the family business of identifying and nurturing Cuban artists and passionately represents those traditions to this very day.  He is now considered one of the world’s most informed experts on Cuban art.

In 2000, the partners (they are uncle and nephew) opened the Maxoly / Latin Art Core Gallery in the heart of Little Havana.  The art presented in this gallery came from collections, auctions around the globe and directly from working artists.  Some of the artists represented in the gallery continued to live in Cuba.  In the politicized environment of exile Miami circa 2000, the representation of non-exiled artists from communist Cuba was not initially accepted.  In fact, the gallery faced down a degree of hostility and controversy.  Most of that early antipathy has long ago subsided.

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Over 100 Travel Writers and Professionals Hosted on FAM Tours between May and July

Air France

Between May and July of 2010, Dragonfly Expeditions hosted a total of seven familiarization trips in and around Miami.  Three of them were held in conjunction with airlines that have added flights to Miami International Airport: May 22nd (Aireuropa with fifteen guests), June 4th (Air France with seven guests) and June 19th (Corsairfly with forty-five guests).  We are confident that the unique journeys we provided are increasing interest in the destination South Florida Continue reading

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Austrian Daily Newspaper Features Dragonfly Expeditions

Dragonfly Expeditions was recently honored by Salzburger Nachrichten, an Austrian daily newspaper, in regards to one of our most popular tours, the Cuban Heritage Tour.  In May, Charles and Uwe provided the experience for a group of media representatives hosted in Miami by Thomas Cook and Condor Airlines. The following article appeared in the June 19th, 2010 publication.

Click the image below to read the article in its entirety:

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Thoughts on Developing a Tour: Cuban Heritage

Charles KropkeWhat motivates a guy, born in Maryland of mixed German, Irish, Russian, Norwegian (no Latin)-descent to write a passionate tour on the Cuban heritage of Miami?  I can accurately pinpoint the kernel of this idea to a specific source in a specific year.  In July of 1973, National Geographic published an article entitled “Cuba’s Exiles Bring New Life to Miami” about how the Cuban migration was changing the face of Miami.  It was probably a back-issue of National Geographic because the timing would have meant that I was only 9 years old when it was published and I don’t want to encourage the idea that I was any kind of child prodigy.  My mother would take us to a used book store in downtown Fort Myers, Florida and I would pour through old editions of National Geographic and pick out the ones that interested me.  This article didn’t interest me, it fascinated me.  ( I still have this issue of National Geographic today and for any of you writers or journalists reading this, please note what a tremendous impact the written word can have on an individual or on the world at large).   Anyway, back to our story. Continue reading

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