Travel to Cuba

Exploring and Living in Cuba

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Thursday, 18 August 2016 16:42

Stars are falling over Cuba

With recent thaw in Cuban and U.S. Relations, American tourists are now flooding the island. Among them are the famous who have descended on the country.

TV host Conan O'Brien spent several days shooting an episode of his late-night TBS show in Havana in February 2015. It was the first visit by a U.S. talk show host to Cuba in more than five decades. While he was there and made some hilarious videos like this one

The Rolling Stones played a free concert in Havana on March 25, which the biggest act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution. The Stones played in Havana's Ciudad Deportiva three days after President Obama visited Havana.

Madonna just celebrated her 58th birthday in Havana.

Rihanna visited Havana in May 2015, where she shot a Vanity Fair cover.

Pop star Katy Perry visited Cuba in October 2015, and wrote that the country is "one of the COOLEST vibes alive" and called it a "Disneyland for creatives minds.”

NBA basketball star Carmelo Anthony visited Cuba with Vice Sports in 2015 to explore street sport culture in the country. Here is a good video of his trip. media/stars-who-have-visited- cuba/11/

Now, almost anyone can is it the country under one of these categories the most important of which is the “People to People” which is designed to help the much-in-need Cuban people. 

1. Family visits
2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3. Journalistic activity 
4. Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
8. Support for the Cuban people
9. Humanitarian projects
10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

Published in News about Cuba
Friday, 10 June 2016 08:48

Our real man in Havana

Our Man In Havana (1958) is a famous novel set in Cuba by the British author Graham Greene. He makes fun of intelligence services, especially the British MI6, and their willingness to believe reports from their local informants. The book predates the Cuban Missile Crisis, but certain aspects of the plot, notably the role of missile installations, appear to anticipate the events of 1962. The book is a black comedy  set in Havana during the regime of Cuban dictator and Castro’s predecessor, Fulgencio Batista. 

Briefly, James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner retailer, is approached and offered a job working  for the British secret service.Because Wormold has no information to send to London, he fakes his reports using information found in newspapers and invents a fictitious network of agents which later leads to many complications.

The book was adapted for a film with the same name and takes the action of the novel and gives it a more comedic touch.

Well, our real man in Havana really has nothing to do with the novel or movie by the same name. He is our Cuban contact or facilitator. His name is Eddie “G” and here lives in the neighborhood of Vedado. The latter is is a central business district and urban area in the city of Havana. Bordered on the east by Central Havana, and on the west by the Miramar district, Vedado is the most modern part of the city, developed in the first half of the 20th century, during the Republic period. The main street running east to west is Calle 23, also known as "La Rampa". The northern edge of the district is the waterfront seawall known as the Malecón, a famous and popular place where Havana’s people or Habaneros gather both day and night. 

In addition to Cuban Eddie, we have another  great contact on our team, Max Gómez. Maxie has 20 years experiences traveling  all over Cuba while running a successful travel business there and in Central America. Between both of these “go to guys," travelers could never be in better hands while in Cuba. However, Eddie is the one with more "boots on the ground experience” and a real “mover and shaker."

Those thinking taking an introductory tour or doing long-term stay in Cuba need to have good contacts  in order to get the most out of the country and especially to see the “real” Cuba before it changes. Most of the tourists who are currently flocking here from the U.S. will never  see the country like our clients.

We have been conducting tours to Costa Rica and Central America for over 30 years and can assure you that the average tourist on a regular tour will never experience what we offer, which is exactly why we have experienced insiders who can help with your trip.

What  we mean by experienced are people who  were either born in Cuba or who have many years living there, speak theSpanish  language, know the culture,  the ins and outs,  dos and don’t’s, can walk the walk and can guide visitors. 

Published in Travel to Cuba
Monday, 06 June 2016 19:27

In Cuba Tabasco Sauce is a Barometer

Tabasco sauce is a brand of hot sauce made exclusively from tabasco peppers, (Capsicum frutescens var. tabasco) vinegar and salt. It is produced by the McIlhenny Company of Louisiana. Originally all peppers used in Tabasco sauce were grown on Avery Island. Today peppers grown on the Island are used to produce seed stock, which is then shipped to foreign growers, primarily in Central and South America. More predictable weather and readily available farmland in these locales allow a constant year-round supply. This ensures the availability of peppers should severe weather or other problems occur at a particular growing location. The original red Tabasco sauce has a shelf life of five years when stored in a cool and dry place; other Tabasco flavors have shorter shelf lives.

Tabasco brand pepper sauce is sold in more than 180 countries and territories and is packaged in 22 languages and dialects.The Tabasco bottle is an original design and has remained almost unchanged up to the present.

At first, I was shocked to see McIlhenny’s world-famous tabasco sauce in Cuba. I guess local importers found a way to get it through another country like Mexico despite the current embargo.

In Cuba a good indicator for finding out if a restaurant is run by the government or by a private party called cuentapropista, is to ask if they have tabasco sauce. Raúl Castro has let local entrepreneurs start their own business which has led to a whole slew of new eateries. My Cuba friends and I discovered that If you go into a government operated restaurant, chances are they will not have tabasco sauce. On the other hand, all of the privately owned and operated restaurants offer it. One Cuban friend, Eddy, asked the manager of an upscale government-run restaurant in the exclusive enclave of Miramar to order tabasco sauce months ago. To this day the restaurant fails to offer it.

Hence we developed the law of “Law of Tabasco Sauce.” All you have to is ask if a restaurant has tabasco to know if is run or not by the government. We joke about this every time we dine in a Cuban restaurant and ask if they have sauce.

The bottom line is that privately run restaurants in Cuba tend to operate more efficiently and cater to the tastes of foreign tourists and a handful of Cubans. It now seems like every day there are more and more new restaurants opening in the Havana area. ¡Buen provecho (Bon Appetit)!

Learn more on one of our Discover Cuba tours. For information about short and long-term stays see:

Published in Living in Cuba

Despite the travel limitations imposed by the U.S. government, there has been a 54 percent increase in the number of visitors from the United States during the first six months of this year. A lot of people have skirted the travel restrictions by first going to countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, the Bahamas or Jamaica, and then on to Cuba.

According to the Ministry of Cuban Tourism 88,996 Americans visited Cuba between January 1, 2015 and July 26, 2015. This is without counting the 164,368 Cuban Americans who traveled to the island during the same period of time. In 2014 only 57,768 visitors came from the U.S. It is predicted that by the end of 2015 almost four million tourists will have visited Cuba with around 150, 000 coming from the U.S. Indeed the country is becoming more and more popular due the improved relations with the U.S. and the fact that it is safe for Americans to travel there.

Furthermore, it is widely believed that many of the tourists who traditionally visit Cancún, the Mayan Riviera, the Dominical Republic or the Bahamas will now visit Cuba instead.

Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Cuban economy and it creates thousands of jobs for the Cuban people in the hotel industry. Taxis, private home stays(casas particulares) and paladares (small restaurants) also benefit greatly from the increase in tourism.

If you are interested in visiting the real Cuba for both short and long-term stays, then look into one of our Exploratory Tours in conjunction with Discover Cuba.

Published in Travel to Cuba

Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

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"I always keep this book on my tablet so that I can maneuver through Cuba’s linguistic maze."

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