Back in 2013, Christopher Baker was leading the first U.S. motorcycle tours that the very romanticized and often illusive Cuba had seen since its revolutionary days.
He’s traveled the country over 100 times since his first visit in 1993 and has been called “one of the world’s leading authorities on Cuba travel and culture” by National Geographic. Fascinated by its eccentricity, eroticism and enigma, Baker was compelled to indulge his passion for travel writing here and eventually produce the book he feels the most pride and affinity for.
This evening Baker will share a little of his travels and discuss his Moon Havana and Moon Cuba guidebook, which he calls his “baby”, beginning at 7pm at the Green Apple Books store on Clement Street in San Francisco.
With a compendium of over twenty books that explore places such as Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic and Jamaica, Baker’s work has also run the gamut of travel guides for publishers like Lonely Planet, National Geographic Traveler and Frommer’s.
His Moon guides offer travel suggestions such as “A Week in Havana” and “Havana’s Musical Feast” and carry information for both new and returning travelers to create more personal, lasting experiences. Baker says Moon’s publishing guidelines have allowed him to dedicate more time to places he’s visited and feel more invested in his writing: one reason these guidebooks are so special to him.
Winner of a number of Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards, Baker has written and photographed for over 200 publications, as well as co-produced a documentary along with actor/director David Soul on the revival of Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 Chrysler convertible in Cuba. He is also an avid motorcyclist and a recent tour of South Africa sparked a number of ideas for magazine stories later to be published.
But as Tony Bennett sang of San Francisco, Baker had always “left his heart” in Cuba. “I feel a passionate affection for the Cuban people,” he says. “I feel at home in Havana…Cuba has become part of my heart and soul.”
His talk tonight will explore the many economic and social changes that have graced Cuba within the past decade, captivating him with an endless charm and bank of subject matter, and will focus on decrypting the January, 2015 changes to Federal travel regulations for U.S. citizens to the country.
“I want to break down some myths, while giving a concise and enthralling ‘Cuba 101’ profile that leaves attendees saying ‘Wow! I want to go, and I want to know more,” Baker says. In the coming years, he also expects increased tourism and the $3 billion in family remittance funds sent to Cuba by Cuban-Americans to lead to higher local prices—one of the reasons he encourages people to visit now.
When he’s not writing, Baker is gearing up for where his work as a moto-journalist will next take him (possibly to Oman) and leading people-to-people journeys through group motorcycle tours within both Cuba and Colombia.