Cuba: Connecting With People & Culture

Cuba:  Connecting With People & Culture

Creating people-to-people connections.


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Sign up for 1 or 2 week Cultural discovery of Cuba.

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.

Due to the change in travel restrictions to Cuba by the Trump Administration, this program is now a group volunteer travel experience for one or two weeks. You will still choose one of 12 reasons to go to Cuba, and you will be accompanied by a group leader, as required by the new travel guidelines from the US to Cuba. Discover Cuba through cultural outings each weekday morning. There are Spanish language classes each weekday afternoon.  We provide 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.  And feel even more a part of the Cuban culture with some cultural evenings out!  Cuba, you just have to quickly learn to “go with the flow.

Included

Each morning Discover Cuba with walking tours of Havana.  After lunch, Monday to Friday, you will receive Spanish language instruction, comprising 2 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. Breakfast each day.

Twice each week, there are Salsa lessons in the afternoon.  And 1-3 times each week, there are evening cultural activities.

For those signed up for a two week program, the weekend includes a trip to Vinales.  Visit a tabacco farm, have a horse back tour, a sunrise hike, a horse drawn buggy tour and a visit to an eco-farm.  On the Sunday afternoon of that weekend trip, there is an optional trip to the beach, based on weather and timing.

Not Included

Lunch and 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.

  • 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 or 2-weeks
  • $1,309 one-week, $1,999 two-weeks. Double occupancy. If you prefer a single supplement, please add $150 per week for a private room.
  • The fee you pay to participate on the Cuba program goes to our 501(c)(3) non-profit company, The GeoVisions Foundation.  The program donation for this experience covers our costs of placing you on the program in a safe and vetted Casa Particulares and neighborhood. The fee helps our non-profit to provide your vetted and screened accommodation, meals, insurance, pre-departure & in-country support. We provide 24/7 emergency service, manned by real people. You are supported from the moment you contact us to the time you return … and beyond, through our active Alumni Community. Be sure to speak to your tax preparer to see if any of these fees can be deducted as a charitable donation.


What To Bring / Packing List
  • 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.
  • Other Items: 
    • Camera. If bringing a digital camera bring a number of memory cards.
    • Stationery. Bring pens, pencils, notepads and notebooks.
    • 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.
Frequently asked questions

Q. Isn’t Cuba a dangerous country?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. 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 … !!!

A. 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?

A. Cuba has 110 volt, some more luxury hotels also 220.

Q. What about money? And can I use my credit card?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. 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!

Spanish Classes are Included. Why?

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.

This essential training increases 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.

The Actual Program:  One or Two Weeks.
Program Overview

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

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!

Discover Cuba with walking tours each morning.  Spanish language lessons take place Monday to Friday in the afternoons.  And twice each week, twirl, stomp and enjoy the music while you learn to dance in Salsa classes.  But the day is not over yet!  At least once each week, experience Havana in the evening.  Maybe a classical concert or dance at Teatro Alicia Alonso or Teatro Jose Marti. Or an evening of jazz at a local Havana jazz club!

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.  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.


  • 2018 start dates: June 3, July 1, Sept 2
    2019 start dates: March 10, June 2, June 30, Sept. 1

    Sign up for 1 week or 2 weeks (same start dates)
    Arrival Date is always on the Sunday.

  • Each morning after breakfast, participants will “discover Cuba” through cultural excursions.
    The afternoons will include Spanish lessons each weekday, and salsa lessons (twice each week).
    Enjoy the evenings out at local cultural events or clubs.  Or just relax at your Casa Particulares.

    The two week program includes a weekend to Vinales.  Tabacco tour. Horseback riding.  Sunrise hike.  Horse drawn buggy tour.  And a visit to an eco-farm.

  • 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.

  • The minimum age is 18.
    Mature travelers are welcome.

  • The “Home Base” for all the programs will be Havana.

  • Not included.
    A tourist visa (visa card) is required prior to your departure.

  • A tourist visa (visa card) is required prior to your departure.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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 and breakfast.

    If you wish to have a private room and not share the room, the additional cost is $150/week.  You can also choose a “shared room” where you will share your room with one other participant.  (Unless participant notifies GeoVisions, participants will have shared rooms.)

  • You will receive breakfast each day. Lunch and 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.

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