Cuba was one of the Crockett's 3 international trips last year and I was happy to customize their people to people trip for them, making it longer so they could pursue their love of birds along with an extensive immersion into Cuban culture. Below is an exert from their yearly Christmas letter to their friends and family about their travel to Cuba.
Our amazing Cuba "people-to-people" tour was based on tours already run by Wildland, but we expanded it to 18 days. We traveled with a group of friends and our focus was a combination of cultural and natural history (especially birds). Abiding by the rules of "people-to-people" (one of a few legal ways for Americans to travel to Cuba right now because of Trump's restrictions), every day included some sort of tour or presentation by local people. For example, one day we visited a photographer's home, and another afternoon we listened to a choir and then had conversations with them afterwards. We met with the director of Zapata National Park – Cuba has an excellent system of protected natural areas, in part because Fidel was a staunch conservationist. We also had plenty of people-to-people interactions at "casas particulares" (private homes where we stayed). Our Wildland guide, Roman, is a Mexican from Baja married to a Cuban. Our Cuban guide, José Luis, was a wealth of information about Cuban history. He said that the "Special Period," after the breakup of the USSR, was a very hard time for Cuba economically. Since then, the Cuban government has permitted some categories of private enterprise (still heavily regulated). The Cuban people are very enterprising and have begun a variety of businesses, many focused on the tourist trade (e.g., restaurant, bed-and-breakfast, taxi service). This year's tourism is down, though, in part because of concerns about Hurricane Irma's damage (largely repaired) and Trump's recent travel restrictions.
We traveled extensively through the western half of Cuba, including Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Playa Larga, Cayo Coco (a Club-Med-like beach resort area with lots of Canadians who never see anything else of Cuba), Santa Clara and the Ché Memorial (Ché's image is all over Cuba, but not Fidel's as he did not want it), the lovely Viñales valley, and of course Havana. Yes, we got to ride in old American convertibles. We visited Hemingway's estate outside Havana (and his home in Key West later in our trip). A special treat was a cooking class and visit to an organic garden where the restaurant's herbs are grown. Among them is mint, and we learned to make mojitos – and drank them of course! We found the Cuban people to be very friendly and welcoming to Americans, not blaming us for our government's actions or feeling responsible for theirs. It was a wonderful and educational travel experience where our broken Spanish was quite useful.
- Bob and Carolyn Crockett
For more information about our trips to Cuba feel free to give me a call at 800-345-4453 or send me an email. I would love to help you plan the perfect trip to Cuba or elsewhere in Central America. You can also check out our Cuba Blog and our trips to Cuba.
Keeping it wild,