Owing to the sanctions imposed by Cuba’s nearest neighbour for over 50 years, many basics that we take for granted are in short supply. Together with our Cuban partners, we have created an innovative scheme to help deliver real practical assistance to the Cubanos.
We invite all our guests to bring a few kg’s of items from the list below. You can ask family, friends and neighbours to contribute to this effort. Be creative! We are not asking you to spend money buying these items new – in our experience most households already have some of these items, unused or underutilized, e.g. unwanted gifts. By asking around and using up some of your baggage allowance you will making a huge difference to the lives of the people you will be living with during your time in Cuba. You will be AMAZED how little waste there is here – recycling is not a lifestyle choice, it is a way of life.
When you arrive at your Casa, your host will sort these items into appropriate themes and explain the strategy for distributing them. Hopefully it may be possible to accompany your host when he makes a delivery of themed items to our donor institutions/partners. It is important when giving that this is done in a thoughtful and sensitive way and we have taken care to ensure that recipients need these items and appreciate our involvement.
A few ideas... By bringing some of these items you will feel better about your time here, knowing that you have shared and cared!!
Havana is an exciting city with many interesting neighbourhoods. However, to experience the ‘real’ Havana you need to stay in Habana Vieja. From here you are a very comfortable walk to the best bars and nightlife, and during the daytime you will be living among the real Habaneros working in shops, bars, art galleries and going about their daily lives in this atmospheric part of the city.
Havana has a unique distinction, being the safest city in the Caribbean and Latin America generally. There are a number of reasons for this, but what it means for the curious traveller is that you will be able to enjoy unprecedented access to local people as you wander around the ‘barrio’ that makes up Habana Vieja.
You will stay in ‘Casa Jakera’, a licensed Casa Particulare*, sharing a dorm room with other student clients OR upon payment single room supplement you have the option to stay in another nearby Casa with your own room including private bathroom. Either way breakfast and lunch are served at ‘Casa Jakera’ and this is the hub of program activities, including; Spanish lessons, group discussions, planning meetings and impromptu social gatherings.
* Casa Particulares are government licenced ‘private homestay’ accommodation whereby Cubans are permitted to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home to paying guests. However, the licensing regime has recently been extended to include larger hostal style accommodation. Casa Jakera falls under this latter category and whether you stay at Casa Jakera or another Casa Particular breakfast & lunch and Spanish lessons are taken at Casa Jakera.
The excellent educational system for which Cuba is famed combined with a natural curiosity to learn about the outside world, and a willingness to share insights about what it means to live in Cuba, mean that you will learn a lot from our team who will be hosting you and their friends.
Trinidad is one of the Caribbean's best-preserved examples of a town from the era of the sugar- trade and Spanish colonialism. The architecture is impressive and beautiful, and the town as a whole is one of the most typical and characteristic examples of classic Cuba with pastel coloured houses, pretty churches and cobbled streets.
The town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its outstanding cultural and architectural importance. Around Trinidad there are plenty things to see: the beautiful El Escambray mountains; Casilda Bay and it's nearby islet with crystal clear waters, white sand and fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities; the Valley de los Ingenios (the Valley of the Sugarmills) is another World Heritage site.
Be immersed in the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Trinidad’s music scene. Colourful houses, cobblestone streets, wonderful people, great food and breath taking vistas over cerulean seas make Trinidad a firm favourite among visitors.
Your host will advise the best way – bus, train or taxi – to get to the following exciting destinations
VINALES (mid South West)
Visit Cuba’s famous tobacco farms in Vinales. Surrounded by a unique karst valley, tobacco plantations and atmospheric caves. Vinales is a peaceful, charming town with some of Cuba's most welcoming people.
MARIA LA GORDA (South West tip)
Renowned for its diving, idyllic beaches, untouched nature and laidback vibe, Maria la Gorda is the perfect spot to wile away some time under the Cuban sun.
BARACOA (Eastern tip)
Remote, unique and arguably one of the most beautiful places in Cuba, Baracoa has a wealth of natural gems to discover and swoon over.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA (South East tip)
Santiago de Cuba has a revolutionary history and an exciting mix of cultures, which results in a vibrancy in the air and an artistic flair in the streets.
CAMAGUEY (South East)
Built to stop ongoing raids by pirates, the maze-like streets of Camaguey are slightly confusing, but nevertheless an amazing place of colour, culture and discovery.
TRINIDAD (South mid)
Be immersed in the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Trinidad’s music scene. Colourful houses, cobblestone streets, wonderful people, great food and breathtaking vistas over cerulean seas make Trinidad a firm favourite among visitors.
A delightful city referred to as the 'Pearl of the South', Cienfuegos was designed beautifully by the French but emits a definite Caribbean vibe.