Fulfilling her longtime desire to travel to Cuba, Sunny registered to travel with her son and grandson on insightCuba’s Havana & Colonial Trinidad program in December 2011. Upon learning more of insightCuba’s people-to-people activities and the possibility to customize a trip for a group of family members and friends, Sunny decided to plan a subsequent family trip to Cuba to be able to share the experience with most of her loved ones. In just over two months’ time, insightCuba worked with Sunny to develop an itinerary tailored to her family’s interests, and secured all arrangements in Cuba. Read a day-to-day review of their experience below:
Our flight arrived on time at 3:00 pm in Havana. We exited the airport terminal at 4:00 pm, and met our guide, Frank, who thought we set a record by getting out so fast.
Around 7.30 pm, off we went to El Patio. We had tables of 5 and 6, as requested, and Frank and Fernando sat nearby at a table for 2. It was all very nice and the magical setting did not fail to impress.
Back at the hotel, we finished the evening with the music, the courtyard bar, the weather, and in my case, dancing with my son on a tropical evening in Cuba!
Next morning, we arrived at the Literacy Museum. I love the director there, as she is obviously passionate about the literacy story—she is also long-winded. I warned the troops that asking too many questions added time to the stay. Frank, of course, interpreted. As we left, we noticed that the field across the street was filled with “little leaguers” and their families, so we had to go watch and interact for a little while—just like home.
Next, we drove to Guanabacoa Museum. I hadn’t been there before, so it was a new experience for all of us, and we had a good introduction to Santeria, Orishas, etc.
Tonight was our night at La Guarida. The restaurant was a huge hit—fabulous food, ambiance that didn’t quit, and a fun family group that thoroughly enjoyed each other. What a night!
The highlight of today was the visit to the Colon Cemetery. I love that cemetery, and it was my daughter’s favorite stop. Since it was still early, we did Revolution Square after. Then we were taken to our dance teacher, who was a gem. Everyone loved the dance lesson (even the skeptical) and honestly, after an hour we all looked darn good.
The two places we visited today were my favorites. The maternity Hospital was of great interest, as in the states we have nothing quite like it. The doctors gave a good overview of their facility, and introduced us to their staff. My daughter had been a hospital social worker, so it pleased her to meet a counterpart. The patients were delightful and quite comfortable filling us in on their particular pregnancy risk, their routine, and the friendships they make with other patients.
From there we went to the Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen, where we were greeted by the seniors with a standing ovation. The director led us right onto the stage, where she welcomed us and then gave the microphone to a woman who serenaded us with a moving song of soaring notes and tender nuances. It was very touching. As we left the stage, they presented each one of us with a hand written note, on a hand crafted card, and a lapel pin of a tiny chapeau—all of which they had made in their craft classes. On the way out, my brother-in-law was hugging and shaking hands and I was throwing kisses in response to theirs.
On the way back, we used the time to ask Frank all questions we had about the revolution. Back in Havana, we decided that we had time to do the Revolution Museum, which was a perfect segue from our revolution discussion. Our final dinner in Havana was at Café Oriente and was low key and lovely. The table was set for 12 and Frank and Fernando sat with us.
Day 5 — Our final day
The morning started with a tour of a cigar factory. Our guide gave us a top notch tour in a beautiful historic building with old tile floors and stained glass. He was very thorough, articulate, energized, and engaged with the cigar workers. He was one heck of a guide. This was the men’s favorite tour.
We went back to the hotel for packing and a leisurely check out, and then off to the airport, where we said farewell to Frank, Fernando, and Havana.
The people-to-people events we had on our program really are the heart of “seeing Cuba”. Without these up close and personal encounters, a person could do the major sightseeing in two days, and go home, thinking they had seen it all. With insightCuba’s program, you not only see the historical sites and sights, but you get a little glimpse into how Cubans view their lives and their country. It was a terrific trip, and all of us have warm memories of our time together in Cuba.