Cuba: Connecting With People & Culture

Cuba:  Connecting With People & Culture

Creating people-to-people connections.


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For now due to Visa regulations, only the six-week program contains planned volunteer service. Shorter programs are mostly cultural exchange.

Amazing things are happening in Cuba right now, making this an even more exciting destination than ever before. Cuba is rightly famed for being the most musical nation on the planet. The decaying neo classical buildings and vintage American cars make Havana a constant joy to explore on foot. The fact is – Havana is the safest city in the Caribbean and South America. What’s not to like?  And the best way to travel to Cuba right now is on the People-To-People Exchange visa with GeoVisions.

Cuba has experienced major upheavals and challenges in its recent history.  As a consequence of heavy hitting sanctions and a changing global political landscape, Cuba now finds itself alone as never before. In response, the government has recently started relaxing constraints on its people. For the first time Cubans can now own their own property, engage in private enterprise and talk to visitors.

No one knows where this will take Cuba in the longer term but for now it means there are new, but limited ways to travel to Cuba from the US to interact with the locals.  GeoVisions has limited placements in Cuba.  There are Spanish language classes each day you will need to take. And we are providing dance classes to better enjoy your evenings out and to have contact with the locals.  The dance lessons are provided from Cuban dance instructors and you would be surprised how many locals take part.  On the shorter programs (1 or 2 weeks), while you won’t do any volunteer work, we always try our best to provide some way for you to give back to the Cuban culture and to interact with the locals.  In Cuba you just have to quickly learn to “go with the flow.”  On the six-week program it may even be possible to do some volunteer teaching by participating in ongoing classes with local community centers.   And sometimes on the longer programs you can assist Cuban volunteer teachers in theater groups, music classes, sports and other activities provided by those centers and possibly be of help to the Cuban instructors as well as assist as necessary with some English.  There are two-weeks during the six-week program where the main focus is volunteering.

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  • Are you up for an adventure of a lifetime?  Are you ready for some cutting edge travel?  Doing things a little different than you normally would?  If you also want to improve your Spanish and experience some of the best hospitality, music and dance in the Caribbean … you’re going to love this program.

    Right now it is legal to participate on this program in Cuba with GeoVisions as part of a people-to-people exchange.  The Cuban government has still made it illegal for traditional homestays at this time, and so we use Casa Particulares, which are larger homes turned into bed and breakfasts … only we also include lunch as well as breakfast.  So there will be other travelers staying with you and it’s as close to a Cuba homestay as we can officially offer.  You will stay in a shared room, but if you prefer a private room we can arrange that for a small surcharge.  If this is OK with you, this is a great program to experience Cuba and meet the locals before full-fledged tourism takes hold.

  • For starters, just add the country Cuba to your resume and that’s going to turn a lot of heads.  Add an official Certificate of Completion and a formal letter of goals met or exceeded along with the number of hours completed to meet those goals, and you’re going to be light years ahead of anyone else.

  • This is a fantastic opportunity to travel with friends. You can live at the same Casa in fact and if you like, share a room. It might be fun to learn Cuban Salsa, Tango, and Conga with your friends.
  • 1-week, 2-weeks, 3-weeks, 4-weeks and 6-weeks.
  • $1,109 one-week, $1,459 two-weeks, $1,849 three-weeks, $2,349 four-weeks and $3,359 six-weeks.
  • You will be staying in a Casa Particulares.  Casa Particulares are a government licenced ‘private homestay’ accommodation whereby Cubans are permitted to provide one or two bedrooms in their home to guests. Breakfast is taken in the family kitchen or outside in the stunning weather, and you have full use of the house living areas.  Lunch is taken in a local restaurant. Your fee includes accommodation, breakfast and lunch daily.





Luggage. A day pack is necessary for every day use.

Clothing. The following list is not exhaustive but please bear in mind that most items can be purchased locally so try to travel light and leave room for goodies to bring home with you!

Shorts / T’shirt / lightweight long trousers / long sleeved shirts / fleece / rain jacket / good walking shoes / cap or hat / swimwear / towel / shades / flashlight / dry bag

Sandals/comfortable shoes. For evenings and time off.

Long sleeve trousers and shirt. As in all subtropical areas, insects can be a nuisance, especially in the evenings. Long sleeved shirts and trousers are recommended to offer the best form of protection in the evenings.

Sun Glasses. A GOOD quality pair of sunglasses is essential. Make sure they offer 100% UV protection.

Camera. If bringing a digital camera bring a number of memory cards.

Stationery. Bring pens, pencils, notepads and notebooks.

Flashlight. Please bring a flashlight.

Spare batteries for any electrical devices.

Photocopy of passport. Please bring a copy of your passport. Travel tip – email yourself a copy of your passport and other important documentation.

Sun Cream / Aftersun. You will be spending a lot of time in the sun so please bring adequate sun protection. We recommend a higher block than usual.

Medical Kit. It is always useful to carry a small personal medical kit. This should include items such as: Band aids, wound dressings and bandages, personal medication to last the duration of the expedition, anti-histamine cream/ tablets, fungicidal foot power/cream, antiseptic cream/solution, Immodium tablets (x30) and rehydration (e.g. dioralyte) sachets, mild pain killers (eg. Paracetamol), tweezers, scissors etc).

Emergency travel kits can be purchased at most pharmacies and outdoor pursuit shops. They contain sterile and sealed equipment, such as syringes, needles and suture materials. Make sure you have sufficient identification papers to accompany these kits to ensure compliance with Customs. The Kit should not be opened unless required and it is inadvisable to carry loose needles or syringes.

Insect Repellent and Afterbite. Insect repellant is recommended. If you are allergic to repellents seek advice before leaving your home country.


In addition to personal items, please consider allocating some space in your luggage to any of the following items – these will be donated to those who need them most.

Arts and Crafts
Pens, pencils, paints & brushes and other drawing materials. Crafts – adhesive shapes, glitter & jewels, glue, felt and other materials. Paper – plain, colored, coloring books, labels.

Kids Educational
Boardgames – traditional (chess, chequers), new (Connect 4, Kerplunk). School supplies – calculators, stationery, school bags. Books – picture and number books (Spanish & English), Spanish language reading (all ages).

Sports Equipment
Football – balls, boots, clothes. Baseball – balls, bats, gloves, clothes. Boxing – gumshields, gloves, headgear, clothes.

General Play
Girls – dolls, accessories, dressing up. Balls, Lego, construction games & toys. Bicycle accessories and parts.

General Other
Hygiene – soap, toothpaste & brushes, shampoo, feminine products. Home – cooking utensils, pots and pans. Clothing – assorted in good condition please, towels, bed linen, footwear. Musical instruments – parts and supplies, e.g. reeds, valve oil, pads, guitar and bass strings, cables etc.


Q. Isn’t Cuba a dangerous country?
Actually, Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere! You will be surprised by the visible police presence in Cuba. They are there specifically to protect and help tourists. Foreign currency and/or convertible pesos (CUC) are vital to their economy, they bend over backwards to make sure everyone has a safe and pleasant stay. Although, be aware of your belongings in cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba just like in every capital city.

Q. Do they have Internet & E-mail access in Cuba?
It is rare for ordinary Cubans to have internet access. Almost all hotels have at least 1 or 2 computers to go on the internet for foreigners. In the touristic areas there also are internet “cafés” from Etecsa the Cuban telephone/internet provider. Forget about uploading pictures because the Cuban internet is very slow, about 56 Kbs if you are lucky. Also using USB sticks is 99% not possible.

Q. What is the best time to go to Cuba, and what is the cheapest period?
March, April, October and November are the months with the nicest weather and less rain.
 The high season in Cuba is July and August
.  Peak Season is December, January and February
. Hurricane season is from June 1 till November 30.

Q. Do I need a Visa and a passport?
Yes and yes! Cuba will give you a visa / tourist card, however, you must acquire the visa before you arrive if you live outside the United States. Ensure that your passport has at least 6 months left till it expires, calculated from your departure date.

Q. Yikes!! I don’t speak Spanish … !!!
Cubans are very patient, don’t worry, they will wait for you to find the right word.  But to get around and to communicate you will need a good understanding of Spanish.

Q. What about electricity?
Cuba has 110 volt, some more luxury hotels also 220.

Q. What about money? And can I use my credit card?
This is slowly changing.  For now, cash only for Americans.

Q. I hear many prescription drugs are not available in Cuba … what if I get sick?
Cuban doctors are known throughout Latin America as the best trained doctors in the region. However, they do lack many of the bare necessities that we expect. “Tourist Pharmacies” DO stock many prescription drugs. Nevertheless, we suggest bringing with you antibiotics, aspirin, band-aids, anything you may need for personal hygiene, etc. just in case. Besides, they make great gifts for the Cubans when you leave.

Q. I’m a woman traveling alone. Is Cuba a safe place to travel for me?
Yes! No problem … but don’t fall in love 🙂 And don’t go down dark streets at night, the same streets you wouldn’t go in in your own hometown. Take a taxi when you go out at night – they are safe and reliable but remember to ask for the fare before you set off! Smaller towns like Trinidad or Vinales are safe at night time for female travelers, you can just walk home.
 Use you female instinct!


With over half a billion speakers worldwide, Spanish is one of the most prominent global languages.  Indeed, there are over 52 million Spanish speakers in the United States, making the USA the second largest Spanish speaking country on Earth behind only Mexico.  Therefore, for those looking to enhance their skills and cross-cultural sensitivity in an increasingly globalized world, the ability to speak Spanish is incredibly important.

Spanish classes are required to participate in GeoVisions’ program in Cuba. This essential training will make you a more effective volunteer by increasing your ability to communicate in a meaningful way as well as enhancing your overall cultural experience.  Culture and language are two sides of the same coin.  By focusing on language training, GeoVisions participants come away from their experience with more than a simple appreciation of Cuban culture by being an active participant in it. 

If you already speak Spanish, taking the time to learn the Cuban variant will be very rewarding.  The Cuban accent is quite distinct and like many Caribbean countries it employs debuccalization (a sound change or softening of consonants).  In Cuba this can be heard in different ways including the lack of rolling “R’s” as well as the softening of the stress at the end of words.  This can have the effect of making the language sound quite “fast” to those unfamiliar with it. Of course, these subtle linguistic changes are in addition to the use of slang and phrases unique to Cuban Spanish.  Ultimately, understanding these differences will help GeoVisions participants be truly impactful in their program as well as more meaningfully engaged in the culturally rich experience that is Cuba.


Program Overview

Learn or improve your Spanish in Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage Site bursting with atmosphere, music and dance. Homestay with Cuban family in a vibrant maze of neoclassical buildings in one of our approved Casa Particulares.

This program is based in ‘Habana Vieja’ – in the heart of the historic old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is a myriad of gorgeous neo classical buildings packed with local people living cheek by jowl. At street level there is a constant buzz with musicians plying their trade in the many fantastic bars to be found in this popular neighborhood. The area is VERY safe, and you will quickly feel comfortably at home. There are lots of interesting shops and quirky art galleries here and most of Cuba’s cultural heritage including national museums also.

You will be staying in a ‘Casa Particulare’. Breakfast will be taken in the family kitchen and you can enjoy the comfort of the family living room with a pleasant balcony with views of the hustle and bustle below!  Lunch in a local restaurant.

Spanish language lessons take place Monday to Friday in the mornings, leaving the afternoons, evenings and the weekend to enjoy this amazing country.  During the afternoons, evenings and weekends you are in Cuba, you will have many opportunities to mingle and spend time with the locals and making a lasting impression on your new community.

Program Description

Our 1-week program has been crafted to maximize your time in Old Havana (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).  We provide plenty of time to interact with locals to provide cultural immersion in a safe environment to ask real questions.

Upon arrival at Havana International Airport you will be picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares. This will be your home in Havana. You will have a shared bedroom with en suite bathroom, and you will take breakfast in the family kitchen and lunch in a local restaurant. For a small single supplement, you can have a private bedroom. As with most homes, the kitchen is also a popular place to hang out and enjoy conversation with your host family! You will also have use of the family living room which enjoys balcony with cool breezes and great views of the streets below. As with most of Havana you will enjoy taking in the atmosphere which is truly unique.

Monday to Friday’s Spanish lessons will take place shortly after breakfast. Your teacher is licensed and on day one you will receive a short test to establish your level and objectives. Lessons will take the format of 3 x 45 minute lessons each morning, with 15 minute breaks to refresh, making approximately 3 hours of Spanish lessons each day – 15 hours per week. Lessons may be held in your Casa, a local library, Casa de Poesa (Poetry House) or outdoors in a local park or promenade at the discretion of your teacher.

Opportunities To Interact With Locals

Every weekend there is an art fair at the Prado. GeoVisions participants are welcome to participate in this event.

Dozens of local artists set up their stands every weekend in the open air boulevard and each has their own group of kids from the surrounding barrios. The local artists teach their skills to the kids. Everything from sketching to origami.

You can participate at the fair by donating materials (that you bring from home or buy there) to the artist of your choice. Then, you can join in the class and help work with the kids to make sure they are getting the most from each artist and the classes.

GeoVisions volunteers have been involved with this art fair for a year now, and the organizers of the art fair, the artists and even the kids now look forward each week to our participation and we have become an important part of this weekly project. Recently we were presented with a letter of recognition and thanks for all our efforts thus far.

All around Havana there are community centers. GeoVisions is very involved with the Arco Iris Center. Every evening during the week from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the Arco Iris Center has classes ranging from beauty therapy to theatre workshops, geography and music classes and of course sports. Here you are able to be involved as many evenings as you like as teaching assistants in the classes where you have a personal interest and where you think you can make a difference in someone’s life. And everyone is eager to learn and practice their English.

Recently, due to the fact that so many GeoVisions participants brought badly needed baseball equipment from home to Cuba, we were able to provide the necessary equipment for the Arco Iris baseball team. GeoVisions participants who love baseball are welcome to join in the coaching sessions and the games that are held most afternoons and on the weekends.

GeoVisions is in the process of finding more sports activities to get involved in, so our participants can get involved even more. Bring your talents and some equipment. You will have so much fun with the local youth and their parents.

 

There are three structured walks around Havana neighborhoods each week. You are more than welcome to join us on the walks.

What’s Included

Each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive Spanish language instruction, comprising 3 x 45 minute lessons spaced with 15 minute breaks. Classes are delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements. Accommodation Monday to Sunday in a shared room with en suite bathroom. Meals – breakfast & lunch included.

We include the weekly walks and access to all of the volunteer projects.  During your orientation you will find out about them all and access to all of these projects is included.

What Is Not Included

Dinner – there is a restaurant boom going on in Cuba with Parladares and Peso Café’s opening to visitors for the first time. Cuban’s and long-term travelers on a budget are the target market, so there are lots of characterful, good value eateries to choose from.


Overview

Two or four week full cultural immersion based in Old Havana. Spanish classes are supplemented with dance classes, cultural tours, excursions and trips out of town.  Afternoons are filled with opportunities to spend more time with the locals, mostly with children and youth. This program provides plenty of time to interact with locals to provide cultural immersion in a safe environment to ask real questions.

Based in a ‘Casa Particlares’ in Old Havana, Spanish language lessons take place Monday to Friday in the mornings, and in the afternoons you will receive dance classes and cultural excursions. Weekend trips feature the beach and a two-night road trip to Viñales (four week program only).  The same trip is available on the two-week program for a supplement of $120 US, which you can pay in Cuba.

You will be staying in a ‘Casa Particulare’. Breakfast will be taken in the family kitchen and you can enjoy the comfort of the family living room with a pleasant balcony with views of the hustle and bustle below!  Lunch is taken in a local restaurant.

This is a busy program and offers the possibility of a full immersion into Cuban life – past and present – and the opportunity to really understand what makes this amazing country so special.

Program Description

Upon arrival Havana International Airport you will be picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares. This will be your home in Havana. You will have a shared bedroom with en suite bathroom, and take breakfast & lunch in the family kitchen. As with most homes, this is also a popular place to hang out and enjoy conversation with your host family! You will also have use of the family living room which enjoys a balcony with cool breezes and great views of the streets below. As with most of Havana you will enjoy taking in the atmosphere which is truly unique.

Spanish Lessons

Each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive 3 x 45 minute structured Spanish lessons (each lesson is followed by a 15 minute break). Classes are delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements. Lessons may be held in your Casa, a local library, Casa de Poesa (Poetry House) or outdoors in a local park or promenade at the discretion of your teacher.

Dance Classes

There are 2-dance classes per week – each approximately one hour duration, during which you will be taken through your paces learning Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, and Rumba and perhaps a few moves you haven’t heard of. The lessons are delivered a short walk from your Casa by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are MANY free live music venues where you can do your homework!

Cultural Immersion

In its day, Havana was one of the most important and wealthy cities on the planet. The source of this wealth is undoubtedly controversial and Cuba’s more recent history is testament to this controversy. The faded patina of Havana’s gorgeous neo classical architecture, rumble of classic American cars and curious soviet era high rise buildings force you to question – what is Cuba?

We would like to help you answer this question through a series of cultural excursions and encounters with Cuban people. These will comprise three ‘sessions’ per week – it might be a guided tour of a museum, or a weekend excursion down ‘Paseo del Prado’ to see the free open air art classes and discussion groups, or a sporting event such as baseball or basket ball game or other ‘event’ where there is a big social gathering.

These cultural experiences and excursions are with our trained local guides who will show you how to buy (and spend!) local peso’s, take local transport and generally make you feel at home and comfortable with your new surroundings.

Weekend Excursions

During the 4-week program you will have three weekends, and we have included activities for each of these. For two weekends you will be accompanied on a day trip to a beach directly east of Havana. Journey time is 30 minutes by bus and you will enjoy the exhilarating rollers that break on these pristine sandy beaches.

One weekend will feature a two-night trip to Viñales, a three hour drive to the central western region of Cuba. The Viñales is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to the outstanding landscape, traditional architecture and agricultural techniques still used.

Please Note: During the 2-week program you will enjoy an accompanied/guided trip to a beach directly east of Havana OR for a supplement of USD $60 you can take an overnight trip to Viñales.

Opportunities To Interact With Locals

Every weekend there is an art fair at the Prado. GeoVisions participants are welcome to participate in this event.

Dozens of local artists set up their stands every weekend in the open air boulevard and each has their own group of kids from the surrounding barrios. The local artists teach their skills to the kids. Everything from sketching to origami.

You can participate at the fair by donating materials (that you bring from home or buy there) to the artist of your choice. Then, you can join in the class and help work with the kids to make sure they are getting the most from each artist and the classes.

We have been involved with this art fair for a year now, and the organizers of the art fair, the artists and even the kids now look forward each week to our participation and we have become an important part of this weekly project. Recently we were presented with a letter of recognition and thanks for all our efforts thus far.

All around Havana there are community centers. One GeoVisions is more involved with is the Arco Iris Center. Every evening during the week from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the Arco Iris Center has classes ranging from beauty therapy to theatre workshops, geography and music classes and of course sports. Here you are able to be involved as many evenings as you like as teaching assistants in the classes where you have a personal interest and where you think you can make a difference in someone’s life. And everyone is eager to learn and practice their English.

Recently, due to the fact that so many GeoVisions participants brought badly needed baseball equipment from home to Cuba, we were able to provide the necessary equipment for the Arco Iris baseball team. GeoVisions participants who love baseball are welcome to join in the coaching sessions and the games that are held most afternoons and on the weekends.

GeoVisions is in the process of finding more sports activities to get involved in, so there is a big score in Havana for our participants to get involved even more. Bring your talents and some equipment. You will have so much fun with the local youth and their parents.

Although we are unable to teach our own English classes right now, all GeoVisions participants are welcome (and needed) to participate in structured classes and activities already happening in Havana. There is so much work for GeoVisions participants who wish to volunteer and get to really know the Cubans. It is literally never-ending.  Current participants have told us there is too much to do and so little time.

There are three structured walks around Havana neighborhoods each week if you prefer not to be involved in the activities and helping out and doing a little teaching. And even if you are involved, you are more than welcome to join us on the walks.  We literally have unlimited space for more participation in all of these activities.

What’s Included

Each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive 3 x 45 minute structured Spanish lessons (each lesson is followed by a 15 minute break).

Midweek each week during the afternoons there will be two dance lessons in a licensed dance school (approximately one hour each lesson) on separate days delivered by a licensed dance instructor (ratio of instructor to student; no more than two students per instructor).

Each week there will be three cultural sessions on separate days.  Two weekends will feature a guided trip to the beach and the four-week program features a two night trip to Viñales Valley.

Accommodation Monday to Sunday in a shared room with breakfast & lunch included.

We include the weekly walks and access to all of the volunteer projects.  During your orientation you will find out about them all and access to all of these projects is included.

Dinner IS NOT included. There is a restaurant boom going on in Cuba with Parladares and Peso Café’s opening to visitors for the first time. Cuban’s and long term travelers on a budget are the target market, so there are lots of characterful, good value eateries to choose from.

 


Program Overview

This program combines the best of our 1 week, 2 week and 4 week programs with some added meaningful volunteer work – conservation and community work at Punta Perdiz ‘Campismo’ on Cuba’s south coast next to Playa Giron. These volunteer placements will help you connect with Cuban people, understand their culture and history, and give you an opportunity to make a real difference!

Our most ambitious Cuban program! This is a 6-week program that comprises 4-weeks in Havana and 2-weeks on Cuba’s south coast. Two weeks in Havana learning or improving your Spanish, dance and cultural excursions are followed by a two-week placement at a beachside ‘Campismo’ on Cuba’s south coast. Finally you return to Old Havana to enjoy a final two weeks learning Spanish and plenty of time to interact with locals to provide cultural immersion in a safe environment to ask real questions.

The contrast between the pace of Havana and the seaside setting of Playa Giron will give you an all round view of life in Cuba.

There is an upper age limit of 30-years for this program.

Program Description

Upon arrival Havana International Airport you will be picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares. This will be your home in Havana for your first two weeks, and last two weeks of your 6-week program. You will have a shared bedroom and take breakfast in the family kitchen. Lunch will be taken in a local restaurant.  For a small supplement, you can have a private bedroom.  As with most homes, this is also a popular place to hang out and enjoy conversation with your host family! You will also have use of the family living room which enjoys balcony with cool breezes and great views of the streets below. As with most of Havana you will enjoy taking in the atmosphere which is truly unique.

During first two weeks in Havana your weekly program will work as follows:

Spanish Lessons

Each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive 3 x 45 minute structured Spanish lessons (each lesson is followed by a 15 minute break). The classes are delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements. Lessons may be held in your Casa, a local library, Casa de Poesa (Poetry House) or outdoors in a local park or promenade at the discretion of your teacher.

Dance Classes

There are 2 dance classes per week – each approximately one hour duration, during which you will be taken through your paces learning Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, and Rumba and perhaps a few moves you haven’t heard of. The lessons are delivered a short walk from your Casa by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are MANY free live music venues where you can do your homework!

Cultural Immersion

In its day Havana was one of the most important and wealthy cities on the planet. The source of this wealth is undoubtedly controversial and Cuba’s more recent history is testament to this controversy. The faded patina of Havana’s gorgeous neo classical architecture, rumble of classic American cars and curious soviet era high rise buildings force you to question – what is Cuba?

We would like to help you answer this question through a series of cultural excursions and encounters with Cuban people. These will comprise three ‘sessions’ per week – it might be a guided tour of a museum, or a weekend excursion down ‘Paseo del Prado’ to see the free open air art classes and discussion groups, or a sporting event such as baseball or basketball game or other ‘event’ where there is a big social gathering.

These cultural experiences and excursions are with our trained local guides who will show you how to buy (and spend!) local peso’s, take local transport and generally make you feel at home and comfortable with your new surroundings.

Volunteer Placement At Punta Perdiz ‘Campismo’

After two weeks enjoying the sights and sounds of Havana it’s time to head out of town to our residential volunteer placement. The setting is Punta Perdiz, just outside the seaside town of Playa Giron 200km directly southeast from Havana.

Playa Giron is world renowned because of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion in April 1961 that led to the first US military defeat in Latin America. It is in the heart of the Zapata Swamp, the largest wetlands of the Caribbean islands and one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba. There is an abundance of plant, bird and other wildlife, many of them endemic to the area. During your time here you will explore the area with our expert guides to find out more about this unique habitat and its history. You will visit Laguna del Tesoro (‘Treasure Lake’), Hatiguanico River basin, Montemar Great National Park, Playa Giron Museum, a crocodile farm and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean!

Despite misconceptions about Cuban way of life, Cubans do enjoy ‘holidays’. All over Cuba are to be found ‘Campismos’ – state concessions/hostels run for the benefit of Cuban holidaymakers. Foreign tourists are not usually permitted to stay at these properties – in much the same way as Cuban’s are not permitted to stay in holiday resorts operated for visiting tourists.

We have negotiated a special status for our volunteers and you will be living in Punta Perdiz ‘Campismo’. While there you will be engaged in several conservation and eco-tourism based volunteer initiatives. In conjunction with the local International Dive School and Cuban Red Cross you will be involved in beach and reef conservations efforts (including an opportunity with Lion Fish spearfishing/eradication) while onshore you will engage in a renovation project to rejuvenate the local basketball court and other sporting and recreational based facilities.

Back to Havana

In week 5 & 6 it’s back to our familiar surroundings in old Havana. Spanish lessons will resume during these final two weeks in Havana – see first two weeks for format of these lessons – while at the weekend we will take another trip to a nearby beach to top up your tan before returning home!

 

There are three structured walks around Havana neighborhoods each week if you prefer not to be involved in the activities and helping out and doing a little teaching. And even if you are involved, you are more than welcome to join us on the walks.  We literally have unlimited space for more participation in all of these activities.

What’s Included

During your four weeks in Havana each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive Spanish language classes comprising 3 x 45 minute lessons spaced with 15 minute breaks. Classes are delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements.

During first two weeks in Havana, Mon-Friday each week during the afternoons there will be two dance lessons (approximately one hour each lesson) on separate days delivered by a licensed dance instructor (ratio of instructor to student; no more than two students per instructor). PLUS each week there will be three cultural sessions on separate days.

During final two weeks in Havana (weeks 5 & 6) Mon-Friday each week during the afternoons there will be volunteer placement(s) approximately 3 hours each day.

Two weekends will feature a guided trip to the beach.

One weekend will feature a two-night trip to Viñales.

Two week volunteer placement at Punta Perdiz ‘Campismo’.

During 4-weeks in Havana, accommodation Monday to Sunday in a shared room with en suite bathroom. Accommodation at Punta Perdiz will be beachside cabins with shared bathrooms (western style showers and toilets).

Meals – breakfast & lunch included.

 

Your Benefits

  • These programs are designed to provide plenty of time to experience the Cuban culture.
  • Due to Cuban law, you cannot stay in a traditional host family at this time.  We will place you with a screened Cuban host family in a Government licensed Casa Particulares. There may be other guests there.  Each owner of the Casa Particulares is interviewed and screened by full time staff in Cuba.

Your Duties and Responsibilities

  • Keep your room tidy and clean and respect your host’s rules and habits.
  • Manage your own personal expenses (telephone bills, clothing, entertainment and spending money).

What You Receive For Your Program Fee

  • A comfortable room at a licensed Casa Particulares.  In other words, a place to call “home” in Cuba.
  • Two meals per day (breakfast and lunch).
  • An experienced U.S. based GeoVisions Program Manager who will serve as your coordinator and liaison with our in-country staff in Cuba.
  • In-country basic language assistance.
  • Professional, locally-based staff to provide orientation, supervision and guidance throughout your stay.
  • Pre-departure materials, orientation information, and access to former and current participants.
  • A toll-free 24-hour emergency hotline in the U.S.  Call collect from Cuba.  Our emergency line is manned by real people.
  • You will receive full information about your Casa Particulares before you depart.

  • One week program, and the two and four-week programs: Arrive on Sunday before the first or third Monday of each month. This allows you to arrive on Sunday (or Saturday) and get settled before your orientation on Monday.

    Six-week program start dates: 2017: 1st Monday in January, March, April, May, July, September and November.

  • Included.  Held after your arrival in the local office after you check in.  This includes your welcome briefing and ensuring that you know how to buy and spend local peso’s, take local transport and generally feel at home and comfortable with your new surroundings.

  • Daily Spanish lessons are part of the program, whether you are learning Spanish or improving on the Spanish you already know.

  • Daily, Monday through Friday.

  • On the one-week, two and four-week programs the age requirement is 18+.

    On the six-week program the age range is 18-30.

  • The “Home Base” for all the programs will be Havana.  For the six-week volunteer program, 4 weeks are in Havana and 2-weeks are in Punta Perdiz.

  • Not included.

    Alaska Airlines

    • January 2017: One daily flight from Los Angeles to Havana

    American Airlines

    • TBD: Four daily flights from Miami to Havana
    • TBD: One daily flight from Charlotte to Havana

    Delta Air Lines

    • TBD: One daily flight from New York’s JFK to Havana
    • TBD: One daily flight from Atlanta to Havana
    • TBD: One daily flight from Miami to Havana

    Frontier Airlines

    • TBD: One daily flight from Miami to Havana

    JetBlue

    • November 30,2017: Two daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Havana (except only once on Saturdays)
    • November 28, 2017: One daily flight from New York JFK to Havana
    • November 29, 2017: One daily flight from Orlando to Havana

    Spirit Airlines

    • December 1, 2017: Two daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Havana

    Southwest Airlines

    • December 12, 2017: Two daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Havana
    • December 12, 2017: One daily flight from Tampa to Havana

    United Airlines

    • December 4, 2017: One daily flight from Newark to Havana
    • December 4, 2017: One weekly flight from Houston to Havana (on Saturdays)

    But that’s not the only way to get to Cuba. You can also take HavanaAir, which flies out of Miami and Key West. In May, Carnival’s newest brand Fathom began cultural cruises to Cuba out of Miami.

  • You may travel from the U.S. if you meet one of 12 approved reasons.

    Check with your airline about where you will collect your “travel card.”  Sometimes they are provided at the gate before you board and sometimes they are handed out before you land in Havana.  Call your airline in advance and find out their particular way of doing things.

    This program fully complies with the People-To-People Exchange under Education.

    For more information about the travel visa to Cuba, contact one of the Charter providers above in the Flights section.

  • Your continued good health and safety during your time abroad is of critical importance to GeoVisions, and to the success of the program.

    With the new healthcare and insurance laws in the United States, GeoVisions cannot legally provide travel, health and accident insurance on our group plan for any participant who resides outside the US. If that is you, we hope you will still participate with us. We struggle to understand these insurance laws in our country every day.

    For US Citizens, GeoVisions has arranged accident and health insurance services through STA Travel.  You will be sent details of the plan appropriate to you before departure.  Please read the information about the plan carefully.

    If you reside outside the US, please find out if your current health insurance plan covers you when you travel. If it does not, you will need to purchase an insurance plan separately. Then, simply send us a scan or photo of your insurance card. It’s that simple. And for the record, we don’t understand or agree with these laws either.

    GeoVisions takes your health very seriously. We have specially trained staff on duty 24 hours a day, 7-days a week to assist you wherever you are.

  • Roundtrip airport transfers are included.

  • Not included unless noted in the program details when some excursions are taken outside of Havana.

  • By law, currently it is only licensed Casa Particulares and hotels that are permitted to have overnight guests.  Therefore, we are using our network of Casa Particulares which are listed in the Program Location section above. Our on-the-ground partners in Cuba have personally inspected these and know the standards are high.

    Casa Particulares are a government licensed ‘private home stay’ accommodation whereby Cubans are permitted to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home to paying guests. Meals are taken in the family kitchen, and you have full use of the house living areas. Your program fee includes your accommodation, breakfast and lunch.

    If you wish to have a private room and not share the room the cost is $10 per day extra.  You can also choose a “shared room” where you will share your room with one other participant.  If you are under 25 and would like a hostel stay (up to 6 people per room) that is also an option for you.  Please let us know your preference.

  • You will receive breakfast and lunch each day. Dinner will be on your own or with friends or other guests.

    Dinner out can cost between $2 and $4. A really nice evening out runs around $8 to $10.