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Cuba Today: People and Society

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9 Days | 8 Nights
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Discussion Board

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John May 29, 2015 at 12:16 PM

I was part of the May 19th trip and just returned. For those of you who will be going in the near future you will have an exciting experience. The Cuban people are very warm, friendly and excited about what the future will bring to them. They are ready for another way of life but really don't know what that change will be and how their lives will change.

For those of you are so inclined to bring donations, the following tips may be useful. At Cuba Libro, the English language bookstore, Coner has set up more of a neighborhood resource than a bookstore. It is a warm and safe place to meet new people and learn new things. The average Cuban cannot afford to buy books so she has set up a lending library. Any children's books, books about Lincoln, art/artists will be greatly appreciated and well used. Now that Cubans can buy their own homes, they have a keen interest in interior decoration. Current decorating magazines are in high demand as are magazines about current music, art, literature and events. The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic or Architecture Digest are needed.

If you go to the Beny More School in Cienfuegos, you will be utterly amazed how talented these young students are, especially with the limited resources available to them. They need strings for all instruments (guitar, violin, cello, bass etc. Any reeds for woodwinds are in short supply (and are easy to pack) as are attachments for brasses (mouth pieces etc.) The children's local dance troupe needs tights and dance slippers for ages 6 to 16 (also easy to pack). The Chamber Orchestra in Cienfuegos provided an really amazing and unexpectedly great concert for us complete with new arrangements of Cuban classical music and the best rendition of Shenandoah I have ever heard (and I am from Virginia so I hear it a lot). They need sets musical scores for any type of music (classical, jazz, Gershwin, etc.) these scores will be used by other local musical groups in the area so this would be a gift that will continue to give.

To follow on Ellen Duvall's post, my luggage exceeded 60 pounds (mostly of donations) and I was prepared to pay the excess baggage fees but, as the entire group's luggage counted for the weight limit, I did not have any fee. So for those of you considering donations, think about adding a bit more. You won't be sort.

For the art lovers, you will have an treat in store for you. For the next three weeks, Havana is host of an international biennial . Art is everywhere as are the artists.

Get ready for a great trip. You will be amazed by the ability of the Cubans to survive very difficult times for 30 years and still remain open, warm and lovely people.

this was my first tour group and I can't say enough about how well Roads Scholars did in anticipating our needs and giving excellent services. The three lectures we had in Havana were world class. These lecturers and our Cuban tour leader were open and direct and answered all of our questions, no matter what they were.

Have fun.
Barbara R Carter May 29, 2015 at 02:09 PM

Thank you John!! So much info for anyone interested. I was in Cuba in February and agree with everything you wrote. The people are wonderful and welcoming!


Ellen Duvall May 28, 2015 at 09:50 AM

We went May 12. Our Miami airport check-in was as a "group". Thus, those with only 35pound luggage balanced with those who were a smidge over 44#. Food was excellent - weight gain not a surprise. It was fun asking questions of groups and vendors in the market. Come with your questions. HIghly recommended (I had read it and our Cuban guide also recommended it) is Marc Frank's Cuban Revelations. It covers changes in Cuba since Raul. Dramatic changes are occurring and the "old" books recommended by RS do not cover Cuba of today.


ted and patti reingold May 26, 2015 at 10:01 PM

Anyone like to chat about upcoming June 2 Cuba trip leaving next week? What are you looking forward to?
ann tomsho May 26, 2015 at 11:27 PM

Been there, done that - just some comments... I strongly would urge anyone to take a "flip -type" little videocam. As you will see some amazing musical performances throughout your trip
ann tomsho May 26, 2015 at 11:29 PM

And best place for t-shirts (I know, that's not why you're going...) is the crowded indoor marketplace in Havana
ted and patti reingold May 27, 2015 at 11:52 PM

Thanks ...will keep your "tips" in mind
ted and patti reingold May 27, 2015 at 11:52 PM

Thanks ...will keep your "tips" in mind


ted and patti reingold May 16, 2015 at 12:05 AM

You're all so right. When traveling in many parts of the world, like China and Tibet there were some situations we were unaccustomed to, but always an exciting and interesting experience. Very much looking forward to our June 2 Cuba trip, cultural differences make for a rewarding and enriching experience.


Maureen Hutchinson May 15, 2015 at 05:36 PM

By the way, we loved our trip to Cuba a year and a half ago. The toilets without seats....well sometimes you are just happy to have a toilet! It's all part of my memories of the Cuban experience, and I thought it was a great trip. At one very nice hotel( in which we were not staying) we all trooped in to use the restroom, and it was well equipped, and I said to our Cuban guide "Doesn't this hotel mind that we are doing this? and the guide answered: " it belongs to all of us, after all". ( referring to fact that the hotel ownership was a part of their socialism and the hotel was probably not a private enterprise but a government operated endeavor, therefore open to "all the people. " I am sure the practice is probably not as open to all the people as one would like, but those are the things that I find interesting....the Cuban people's view of such things.


Premium Email Subscriber May 15, 2015 at 02:49 PM

I loved the trip in Cuba. The Jagua hotel was beautiful. You can open the balcony and front door and the breeze will knock you down. The elevators worked, the staff was friendly, I'd go again in a heartbeat. Don't forget to look for the plaques commemorating Fidel's 1960 visit.
Deirdre Mc Kee May 15, 2015 at 06:02 PM

I loved it as well a year and a half ago. I got up very early and sat on the balcony and watched the fishermen. Far better than Hotel National which was historically interesting but now a tourist packed , falling apart place. But……all was fine.
Deirdre Mc Kee May 15, 2015 at 06:02 PM



David Fritz May 15, 2015 at 02:34 PM

Well said, Maureen!


Maureen Hutchinson May 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM

My comment would be that when traveling internationally to places like Cuba, it needs to be the expectation that things will not be like they are in a first world country. That is part of the experience. Go with the flow, you will enjoy yourself much more. If there is something not working, you can try to do something about it, but you may have to just do without it for awhile. And that in itself is part of learning about the culture. My attitude: If the Cubans can live with it, so can I, while in their country.
Barbara R Carter May 15, 2015 at 05:23 PM

I feel sorry for people who travel and expect things to be like their home country!! You are so spot on Maureen! and you said it so so well.
Chris Coleman May 15, 2015 at 06:25 PM

I love this thread. I want to travel to places unlike my own home. Bring on squat toilets and malfunctioning air contonditioning. We're going to Cuba!
Barbara R Carter May 15, 2015 at 07:02 PM

Good for you Chris!!


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