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The Spirit of Eastern Cuba: Experiencing “Oriente”

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9 Days | 8 Nights
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. Minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding, and rewarding, programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Margaret-Jeanne Adelman Jun 10, 2015 at 01:21 PM

I want this trip back on the schedule - I know if you make this a photographic journey with Essdras Suarez you will have it filled in no time. Many of us who recently toured with Essdras would love to visit this other part of Cuba.

Jan Wolfe Jan 31, 2015 at 05:14 PM

I just returned from this wonderful trip! A friend who is going in March asked about donations and I put this email together for her. Maybe it will help some others too. This is a list of the people to people activities, not all of which were official donation sites, but were willing recipients.
•Family of potters in Camaguey: not really a donation site and they mostly do giant clay pots called tinajones. There is a "purchase opportunity" though as most family members are artists
•Dance company in Camaguey: this group is breathtaking in their talents and dignity. Suggestions would be for generic ibuprofen (maybe bring a box of snack-sized plastic bags so they can divide up the meds between the numerous dancers), Ben-Gay, Dr. Scholl-type products (lambs wool, moleskin), since they are all difficult to impossible to obtain.
•Martha Jimenez: very successful and famous artist! A lovely lady, and you will probably want to purchase some of her work as it is incredibly charming. Web site (Google Chrome will likely do auto-translate for you) http://www.martha-jimenez.es/. Her work focuses on women and their everyday life -- and what occupies their thoughts while going through everyday life!
•"Unique artist studio": this is an arts cooperative and gifts really wouldn't be needed here, but all are selling their wares. We were entertained by a chamber orchestra here, who may appreciate strings for violin, cello, etc and reeds for wind instruments, but just a small number. I did not do any donations here
•Cuban cowboys: You will LOVE LOVE LOVE this activity! There were 6 cowboys but I didn't know the number so I took a variety of things and they split them up. It was SO much fun! They eat lunch in the back, so that's a good time to give them anything. I took work gloves, leather punches, hoof picks, playing cards, and harmonicas. The WONDERFUL foreman, Vincente, will capture your heart. Give him a big hug for me. I told him you'd be on a March trip and asked if he had any special requests. He asked for a flash drive with American country western music. Is that up your alley? If not, I can put one together and send it to you to give him.
•Teachers and students of the two room schoolhouse: this place is surprisingly well-equipped. Candies for 15-20 kids would be cool. Maybe some discreet cash to the teacher. I took toilettries and the entire Harry Potter series in Spanish. There will be an abundance of village people outside the school looking for handouts. Be careful about starting a riot!
•Humble home: I really loved this place. Make sure you try some of the cookies that Juana makes. And if you think of it, will you please get the recipe? It's equal parts milk, coconut, and _______. But I can't remember if that blank is flour or sugar. Any kind of personal hygiene items, or discreet cash would be nice here. I took a big bag of spices, but she grows a lot of herbs, so I don't know if that was a good contribution. She seemed as if she liked it though. At the fence in the backyard is a sweet neighbor lady and she'll give you amazing fruit if you give her something. Try her bananas! Oh my goodness!
•Print artists cooperative in Bayamo: no donations really needed. There's a lady in the back room who sells beautiful prints for a ridiculously low price.
•Local fishermen -- sweet activity! Personal hygiene, bandaids, etc would probably be good. A precious 5-7? year old girl may sing for you and I bet she would appreciate a special gift. The islanders also have a community center for the infirm and neglected. They'll gladly accept items for the center.
•Casa de la Trova dance instructor: this is a fun--but commercial-- dancing activity, these folks are doing very well in the tourist biz.
•Tumba Francesa Pompadour dancers: this is a large community organization, the dancers are quite numerous (30+), and their performances are well-attended. Can't think of much that would be needed here, but they all appreciate a discreet cash do
Jan Wolfe Feb 02, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Sorry! The rest was cut off:
Jan Wolfe Feb 02, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Musicians from Casa del Chengui: again, you will LOVE LOVE LOVE this! They could use guitar strings, discreet cash. The Cuban guitar is called the Tres, and I Googled Cuban Tres Guitar strings. They run about $7 online.
Jan Wolfe Feb 02, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Family in Guantanamo: they seemed quite well off but artwork is for sale.
Jan Wolfe Feb 02, 2015 at 12:10 PM

And finally, RS discourages organized tips, but a private token of your appreciation to your Cuban guide, your RS leader, and your bus driver would be greatly appreciated.

Jan Wolfe Dec 17, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Did you see this news today? http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/politics/cuba-alan-gross-deal/
"In an effort to boost the nascent Cuban private sector, the President will also allow expanded commercial sales and exports of goods and services to Cuba, particularly building materials for entrepreneurs and private residences, and allow greater business training, as well as permit greater communications hardware and services to go to the island.

Other announced changes permit U.S. and Cuban banks to build relationships and travelers to use credit and debit cards. U.S. travelers will be allowed to import up to $400 worth of goods from Cuba, including $100 in alcohol and tobacco -- even Cuban cigars. Remittances by Americans to their families back in Cuba will also be increased to approximately $2,000 per quarter"

Yvonne Nobles Nov 28, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Hello, I am 3rd on the wait list for the Feb 14 to 21 trip to Eastern Cuba, and would like to know how many people are scheduled to be on this tour.

Jan Wolfe Oct 30, 2014 at 02:37 PM

Hola Lanita! I was looking over the materials for the Oriente trip and have a couple of questions. The Cuba Today materials indicated specific people to people encounters that would accept donations, but these Oriente materials are more generic. Do you know which of the Oriente encounters accept donations, or if not, do you have an approximate number of sites that accept donations? I like to pre-sort and pre-bag them. Also, when we left in April there was talk of doing away with CUCs. Has that happened? Looking forward to this trip!

Elizabeth Harpswell Oct 12, 2014 at 09:25 AM

I would like to take this trip and then tack on a few days in Havana on my own at the end or beginning. Can US citizens do this?

Catalina Baldwin Jul 24, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I would like to see a more detailed trip of Oriente that would include Preston, Banes, and Macabi. These communities were the home to the United Fruit and Sugar Company sugar plantations and sugar mills throughout the first half of the 20th century. The history of how American and other foreign people worked and lived amongst the gracious Cuban people would be interesting to many former Oriente residents such as myself.

Jan Wolfe Jul 11, 2014 at 03:20 PM

Anybody going on the January 17-24, 2015 trip?
Jan Wolfe Aug 07, 2014 at 06:53 PM

Hi Joy! I just sent you a private message. I'm not sure where that even shows up through Road Scholar though!
Ellin Ifft Oct 01, 2014 at 11:21 PM

Hi Jan! I couldn't go in January so will miss you and Lana but I did schedule the March trip which I KNOW won't be as much fun without you two.

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
8 nights of accommodations
21 meals: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
1 Expert-led lectures
10 Field trips
12 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances
2 Flights during the program
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)


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