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Cuba Today: People and Society

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Road Scholar
Program #20437RJ
9 Days | 8 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. There’s 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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Linda Bevan Feb 22, 2015 at 05:42 PM

when we were there it was not very well organized whether the group leader or tour guide. It is a good idea to keep some small items with you to pass out to the people. The most frequent request we heard was "soap". My friend created a frenzy passing out pencils and pens!
Sue Hobbs Feb 22, 2015 at 09:11 PM

We actually had 2 people stop us on the street and ask for pens, which luckily I had a few in my purse, so you might want to bring some.

Marc Weiss Feb 22, 2015 at 02:07 PM

My wife and I are leaving on the 24 Feb. trip. Regarding donations does anyone have first-hand info on how or to whom this donations are distributed?
Mimi Greenfield Feb 22, 2015 at 02:45 PM

Just give whatever you bring to the group leader.
Dorothy Jackson Feb 22, 2015 at 02:54 PM

I brought ballet slippers that were donated to the children's dance group in Cienfuegos. However, all the children had slippers and costumes -- a different costume for each dance. So, it wasn't clear whether this was a "needy" group. Toiletries and two tee shirts were donated to the graphic arts workshop, which has a special program with Down syndrome kids. We didn't see the kids, but our RS group leader conferred with the main artist, and together they determined that these kids and their families would appreciate the donations. I had bought a book on Cuba wildlife that had both Spanish and English text. I e-mailed ahead of time with the English bookstore Cuba Libro, who said they'd be delighted to have the book in their lending library (I didn't want them to sell it but wanted availability to maximum number of readers). I spoke with an American tourist with another group who said that they were donating toiletries to a synagogue that provides these items to whoever has need in their community, regardless of religion. That seemed to me to be a better way. Would love to hear from others about their experience with donations.
Douglas Cummings Feb 22, 2015 at 03:13 PM

Douglas Cummings Feb 22, 2015 at 03:14 PM

We pooled our donations, like Mimi said. The group leader distributed them.
Marc Weiss Feb 22, 2015 at 03:16 PM

Mimi/Douglas - I know that is what RS says to do.
Marc Weiss Feb 22, 2015 at 03:19 PM

Dorothy - thanks for some useful info. That is exactly my concern - that items go to folk who are truely in need. I agree that direct donation such as the synagogue is ab etter way for me.
Paula Galland Feb 22, 2015 at 03:19 PM

Many people on the street in Santa Clara and Trinidad asked us if we had any soap. I'd suggest putting little bars of soap in your pocket each day to give to anyone who asks for it. We felt terrible we did not have any.
Paula Galland Feb 22, 2015 at 03:20 PM

I'm jealous you are on your way. Returned Wednesday from a fabulous week. You will love it!
Paula Galland Feb 22, 2015 at 03:21 PM

Also, small items like thumb drives, pens, and markers are a good idea because they are easy to pack.
Paula Galland Feb 22, 2015 at 03:23 PM

Many of us left our clothing behind in the hotel closets with a note to please give it to someone who needed it. It's a great way to lighten your load along the way. You'll want to make room for some Cuban cigars. We found the best place to purchase these was in the cigar store of the Hotel Nacional. Prices were better here than in the fortress.
Marc Weiss Feb 22, 2015 at 05:14 PM

Paula - thanks for the soap tip. I can clear out my travel collection. Also got some Crayola Markers (made in the USA!)

Joan Engelhaupt Feb 16, 2015 at 08:34 PM

My medical record shows that I got the tDAP shot a month before I went to Cuba, possibly in preparation for the trip. I had gotten the Hep A & B shots back in 2007 for another trip, so maybe I was advised they were still good. They were having a typhoid outbreak in Havana just before I went, so I took prescribed meds for that but evidently didn't get the shot for some reason. This was two years ago.

Julie Engberg Feb 16, 2015 at 08:17 PM

I'm on an April trip. I got hep A. CDC says not required, but I wanted it anyway. Hep A has to be given two doses, several months apart.
Richard Hannegan Feb 17, 2015 at 08:13 AM

and remember that your medical insurance may not want to pay for them.
Mimi Greenfield Feb 22, 2015 at 02:45 PM

Did not get shots. No problems encountered. Drink only bottled water.

Kathryn Bowers Feb 16, 2015 at 08:03 PM

Did any of you who have taken this program get typhoid and/or hepatitis A vaccines as suggested by the CDC?
Kathy Bowers (scheduled on Mar. 3 trip)
Dorothy Jackson Feb 16, 2015 at 08:09 PM

Yes. I already had hep A, and I got typhoid booster, as recommended by my doctor. He also gave me a prescription for something like Cipro for "travelers' diarrhea," which I didn't need. Others in my group were afflicted, so it's good to be prepared.
Kathryn Bowers Feb 16, 2015 at 08:12 PM

Thanks for this info, Dorothy!! I'm think I'm allergic to Cipro, so I'm planning to get Lomotil for diarrhea.
Paula Galland Feb 22, 2015 at 03:24 PM

Get the Lomotil but do not eat raw, unpeeled food or use the water for teeth brushing. Those who were not super careful, needed their Lomotil. The rest of us were fine.
Kathryn Bowers Feb 22, 2015 at 03:53 PM

Thanks for the tip, Paula. I have my Lomotil. I did not realize that it is an opioid, and some doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.
Rena Sonshine Feb 23, 2015 at 02:27 PM

Immodium works well for travelers trots, and it is OTC.

Linda Lancaster Feb 15, 2015 at 01:29 PM

Hi, Cindy - thank you for the information. Linda

Linda Lancaster Feb 15, 2015 at 09:25 AM

We are going on the Mar 17-25 trip. The info packet says the RS web site has suggestions for gifts/donations we should bring. Anyone know where this is?
- Thanks, Linda Lancaster - Sun City SC/OLLI trip
Cindy Jennings Feb 15, 2015 at 09:46 AM

You should be able to find it in the preliminary information packet. But I've cut and pasted something from an earlier post. On my trip we were told that the greatest needs were in the rural areas, not Havana and that's where most of the items were donated. I can see that the tights and leotards would be useful but I didn't take any. Also, the weight limitation is not an issue- so don't worry about your baggage being over 44 pounds. You'll see....
Cindy Jennings Feb 15, 2015 at 09:48 AM

I purchased many items for kids, books, art supplies, etc. I also made sure that everything was "made in usa" but that was certainly my preference. They get cheap stuff made in China anyhow, though I'm not sure how much....Here's the rest: Summer weight clothing, pens, pencils, toothpaste, deodorant, batteries, small tools, fabric, sewing, knitting and crocheting supplies, latex gloves, adult diapers, English-Spanish Dictionaries, classic and modern literature in English, current newspapers and magazines, USB thumb drives, children’s toys, coloring books, markers, colored pencils, music stands, guitar strings, art supplies."

Chris Coleman Feb 13, 2015 at 01:47 PM

My husband Jim and I are signed up for the May 19 Cuba trip. We are retired teachers from the Black Hills of SD and avid travelers. First trip with RS. I've enjoyed reading these posts and would like to hear from anyone else going in May.
Ken Smith Feb 15, 2015 at 09:55 AM

Hi Chris, My wife Daryl and I are on the May 19 trip with two other friends of ours from Santa Cruz. This will be our first RS trip as well.

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8 nights of accommodations
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