Casa del Caribe is a cultural research institution located in Santiago de Cuba. The institution has two buildings, actually former mansions, in the charming Vista Alegre neighborhood a few blocks from one another. Casa II is located on Calle 8 and has a museum dedicated to Cuban popular religion that often is really a ritual space with working shrines to Kongo and Yoruba deities. This should be one of your stops if you are at all interested in Cuban popular religion and culture of the Oriente. Tours of the space are offered for a small fee, and you may be able to arrange a divination reading with one of Santiago de Cuba's espiritistas or a santero (fees apply for this service; ask in advance but it's not considered polite to haggle over this fee. If it seems too high, feel free to decline!).

During the Festa del Fuego from July 3-9 annually, both venues are hopping with activities of music and cultural presentations from morning through night. Although most activities of the Festival are free, there is an extra fee and a special pass for admission into the Workshops on Popular Religion. The registration is available at Teatro Heredia during the first couple days of the festival, but also can be handled for you if you have a hotel tour guide.

During the rest of the year the houses tend to be quiet, though meetings and conventions of scholars take place throughout the year. Both houses have shaded side yards and a kiosk where beer and sodas are sold and people gather to hang out.

Casa del Caribe has a website. Here's the programme for the 2006 Festa del fuego, in English: http://www.caricom.org/jsp/community_...