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Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey

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Road Scholar
Program #20612RJ

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17 Days | 16 Nights
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
See all of our Most Popular programs.
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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Pat Kosters Aug 28, 2015 at 12:05 PM

I just got off the waitlist for Cuba program #20612 February 19 - March 6. Looking for a room mate since I'm a single booked as a double. I live in northwest Iowa and will be flying out of Sioux Falls, SD. If you are single and want this trip without the single supplement I'd love to hear from you.
Dan Ruck Sep 02, 2015 at 11:27 AM

I also am looking for a roommate but I am a 73-year-old man. If you think we can work it out, e-mail me. dcruck@gmail.com

Premium Email Subscriber Aug 26, 2015 at 09:21 PM

Looking ahead to my April trip to Cuba with RS. One place I really hope to visit is the former National School of the Arts (now called the Instituto Superior de Arte. It's located in Cubanacan - one of the furthest out suburbs of Havana. Do you think it will be possible to find someone to take me there during a period of downtime from tour activities in Havana?
John Cubit Aug 26, 2015 at 10:43 PM

I went in April and thought it was a great time of year to be in Cuba. There are plenty of taxis in Havana: go to the school in style--in a perfectly restored 50's Detroit car.
Elaine Axelrod Aug 27, 2015 at 11:19 AM

Premium Email Subscriber Aug 27, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Thank you, John. I'm hoping a fellow traveler on my tour will want to go with me to see the ISA, but I'm determined to go even if I have to venture out on my own. The architecture and history of the school are fascinating.
John Cubit Aug 27, 2015 at 10:11 PM

I'd suggest starting with your Cuban guide to see if advanced arrangements can be made to visit the school. Explain why you're interested. In any case, my experience in Cuba was that Cubans everywhere were very welcoming, especially to someone like you who appreciates the architecture and history of the school. I bet your can find others in your tour group who would also be interested in seeing the school. Just remember to be polite and be very open about the good things you have heard about the school. All the Cubans I met take pride in their institutions and programs. Chances are quite good that your interest would be appreciated and taken as a compliment.
Premium Email Subscriber Aug 28, 2015 at 01:32 PM

I appreciate your encouraging response. From your description and the reading I've done so far, the Cuban people do indeed seem to take great pride in sharing their culture with visitors to their country. If you'd like to see what sparked my interest in visiting the ISA, take a look at a DVD titled "Unfinished Spaces." It's based John Loomis' book "Revolution of Forms: Cuba's Forgotten Art Schools." Despite the fact that the schools were never completed, a generation of visual, modern dance, and theatre artists have trained there and many have made successful careers for themselves. The architecture is entirely unique and absolutely gorgeous. It will be very easy to share my admiration for the schools with the Cubans I meet in Havana, and I fully understand that politeness goes a very long way. Thanks again.
John Cubit Aug 29, 2015 at 12:34 PM

Thanks very much for sharing this. I wish we had visited this school. However, we did visit a number of other art schools across the country. Starting around the 3rd grade kids can choose their educational paths, including in the arts. All schools are free. The schools are boarding schools, so kids can attend no matter where their families live. I posted some photos to share here: https://cubit.smugmug.com/Cuba
Premium Email Subscriber Aug 30, 2015 at 12:40 AM

Thanks for the link to your travel photos, John. I'm going to enjoy looking through them all.
Premium Email Subscriber Aug 30, 2015 at 10:39 PM

Your photographs are absolutely stunning, John. They really give a taste of Cuba's many flavors. In your visits to the various dance companies, were there any particular "wish list" items they expressed a need for? I've heard that tights, leopards, sewing supplies and dance slippers are all welcome. I want to pack things that are truly needed, so I'm very interested to know what would kinds of donations would have the most impact for dance companies.
Premium Email Subscriber Aug 30, 2015 at 11:00 PM

Whoops! I'm not sure if it was auto-correct or me, but in the above message, I meant "leotards," not "leopards." I also seem to have injected a spare "would" in that last sentence. Sorry for my carelessness.
John Cubit Aug 31, 2015 at 01:17 PM

Thanks, Prem. I don't know about wish lists, but I talked at length with a person who rebuilds ballet slippers at a dance company we visited. Slippers and parts for them seemed to be desperately needed. She rebuilds shoes over and over. For example, to rebuild the stiffness of the toes of the shoes, she uses scrap styrofoam dissolved in acetone, making a liquid plastic. Nothing goes to waste, and the support crew for the ballet are experts at innovation and invention. I'm sure new ballet shoes--the dancers' most essential items--would go to very good use.
Premium Email Subscriber Sep 01, 2015 at 01:26 AM

Great to know. The resourcefulness of the Cuban people is impressive. They can teach us a lot. I will be sure to bring some ballet slippers and toe shoes, trying to gauge which sizes might be most common. With pointe shoes, the fit is critical, but it sounds a though they will be able to adapt whatever I might bring to suit their needs. What do you know about bringing in new goods versus used goods? I could arrange for the shoes to be gently used if that would make it easier to bring them into the country.
Premium Email Subscriber Sep 01, 2015 at 01:27 AM

By the way, My name is Carolyn. I just can't figure out how to get it on my Discussion Board profile.
John Cubit Sep 01, 2015 at 01:57 AM

Carolyn, Your questions are way into my area of ignorance. However, the director of a ballet company did say that Cuban ballet dancers are bigger and more powerful than their European counterparts. She said this is reflected in their choreography--something that sets them off for special respect in the dance world. This also suggests the adult dancers in the companies would probably need bigger than average size shoes. Since the schools have 3rd graders on up, they could probably use any size. I'm sure the new shoes would be very welcome. Regarding imports, no one checked the contents of our luggage. On our trip there were two guides: a U.S. guide that accompanied us starting in Miami. A Cuban guide joined us when we arrived in Cuba. You might check with the U.S. guide for the latest on customs regulations.
Premium Email Subscriber Sep 01, 2015 at 11:03 AM

I've been looking at the website for Cuba's Customs policies, and I guess I need clarification on a few things. I have plenty of time to investigate before I go in April. I appreciate your taking time to share your experiences and knowledge. I find this Discussion Board very helpful. Reading about travelers' actual experiences and insights helps to flesh out the basic information RS provides. Thanks again.

Pat Kosters Aug 18, 2015 at 03:05 PM

I just booked the Cuba trip 20612 for February 19 - March 6. Am on wait list as a double but looking for a room mate. So if you want that date and want to share my room let them know I'm on wait list. Hope that makes sense.

John Cubit Aug 17, 2015 at 06:55 PM

When choosing trip dates, it's true that the winter months are cooler. However, the Fall and Spring months have more hours of daylight. I was on an April trip, and it was nice to roam around the cities in the late afternoon daylight. You can find weather and daylight statistics on the web.

Jamie Fine Aug 17, 2015 at 12:47 PM

Thank you Dottie and Araya for your prompt responses. More questions (and very excited). I was told the streets are uneven and cobblestone. Do I need to wear sneakers daily or will sandal be okay for walking around (I am in good shape)? We were told to bring ballpoint pens to give to people, as they are expensive there. Should we bring those or something else? Did you have any opportunity to shop (a little) for "beach" jewelry, tee shirts, etc. I read not to bring fancy jewelry. Does that mean leave my engagement and wedding rings at home? Are cropped pants and nice cotton tops okay? Anything nicer for dinners? Sorry for so many questions.
Araya Sol Aug 17, 2015 at 01:06 PM

Sturdy sandals are fine. My Keens were great. Anything goes for clothing, whatever you're comfortable in. Yes, you'll have plenty of opportunity to shop for goodies. If you see something you like, get it, and don't expect to see it later on. Some things are everywere, but many things are unique. Bring your jewelry, or not. It's up to you. I felt very safe there. As far as what to bring, they're short on everything, so bring whatever you can pack. We gave all our gifts to our guide who distributed them to the various groups along the way. I was most impressed by the need of the Ballet troupe for fabric, thread, sizzors, and other decorations for costumes. I asked my dentist for a donation of toothbrushes and toothpaste, and he gave me 50 of each!
Jamie Fine Aug 17, 2015 at 01:18 PM

Thanks Araya. Love the toothpaste and toothbrush idea too! Want to pack small things, so thread is a great idea.. We are so lucky here, that I don't even think of the simple things.
John Cubit Aug 17, 2015 at 06:44 PM

Like Araya said, if you bring gifts, please give them to your guide for fair distribution. As for clothes, if you plan to go to nice paladares (the private restaurants), wear what you would to a nice casual evening party in the U.S. Women are lucky because they can pack something dressy/casual that isn't very bulky. I had one pair of creased pants and a dressy open-collar shirt for evenings at nice restaurants. As for foot wear, I always wear closed-toe shoes (nice sneakers) in 3rd world countries. You can probably get away with sturdy sandals, but do you really want to stub your toe on a street where the wet patches are probably seeping sewage?

Jamie Fine Aug 17, 2015 at 11:57 AM

We just signed up for the Cuba trip from New York on November 24. The NY trips haven't started yet, so I thought I would ask here. I don't eat meat and have requested a vegetarian/fish alternative. Has anyone else done this and what was your experience with food in Cuba and on the trip? Thanks.
Dottie Marban Aug 17, 2015 at 12:15 PM

I do eat meat and the pork was delicious, but I prefer fish and seafood, and there is plenty of that, as well as nice salads and limited vegetables like squash, sweet and white potatoes, and of course, rice and beans! Jamie, you will do "Fine"! The privately owned "paladares" have wonderful food and we ate mostly there. Even lobster at times! I didn't care much for the hotel buffets, but you certainly will have plenty of options, including pasta. Have a wonderful trip!
Araya Sol Aug 17, 2015 at 12:32 PM

I, too, am a vegetarian and was on the RS trip last December. The food was definitely not a highlight for me. Some of the fish that was offered was good, but often it was overcooked and very dry. Also, some of the fish comes from Viet Nam, as much of the fish around the island has been depleted. I liked the hotel buffets because there was a large variety to choose from. Go and enjoy that wonderful country!

Barbara Fredricksen Jul 24, 2015 at 02:54 PM

I'm going on the Dec. 4 Santiago to Habana trip. Anybody else on that one yet? I did the People to People last December, and it was awesome! Can't wait to get back to beautiful, wonderful Cuba! As someone has said, the USA has a lot to learn from these smart, generous people.

Linda Hill Jun 25, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Did you get a chance to visit El Floridita in Havana for a daiquiri?
Nan Schaller Jun 25, 2015 at 01:40 PM

There was time to do it, but we did not do it.

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
16 nights of accommodations
40 meals: 16 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 11 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
14 Field trips
26 Hands-on experiences
2 Flights during the program
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)


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