Apr
11

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Ask the Alumni: Cuba through the Words of a Discover Corps’ Traveler

Posted by on April 11, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

This Traveler Plans to Return

For Discover Corps traveler, Barbara, her Cuba travel experience was so powerful she is already planning a return trip one year from now. During her adventure, she explored the country, felt the warmth of the Cuban people, and witnessed a moving reunion, years in the making. Barbara provides all the details below of her Cuba: Celebration of Arts & Culture vacation:

Why did you choose Discover Corps versus another travel company?

Service and depth of relationship have been a source of meaning, enrichment and satisfaction for me most of my life. Discover Corps (DC) is true to it’s motto “Vacations With Purpose”. When I first received the catalog, recognized that this was a special kind of travel that incorporates some of my core beliefs. Both of my DC trips, one to Peru and this to Cuba, have been so rewarding in many ways. I believe that travel to another country where one sees and meets the local experience, is one of the most life expanding times. Thank you Discover Corps!

What is one thing you wish you’d known before traveling to Cuba?

I’ve been intrigued by Cuba for some time. I believe that I would have done more reading in regard to the revolution and the power structure that has been in place but is changing due to more progressive leadership. I am continuing my reading of these things and find that I have a deeper understanding even after the trip.

Cuba vacation
The natural beauty of Cuba

Tell us about the most memorable experience from your trip.

This is hard to just choose one, so I won’t! The place we visited that was so memorable, was Muraleando. The gentleman who had the vision and the means to ‘make it happen’, turned an unused tank that had turned into a junk pile, into a community center where art in all its forms takes place. Classes are given in pottery, painting, dancing, music and other art forms. In addition to being such an intense focus on art, it is a service to the community in providing a beautiful venue for life events such as weddings, at no cost to the participants. I loved every minute in Muraleando!

I must share another experience that made this trip exceptional. One of our group had lived in Cuba until the age of seven. She was part of the Pedro Pan Movement. During the revolution, there were fears for the children. Many fled to other parts of the world with the help of family members who had gone before. Our lovely Carina joined her aunt and uncle, then her parents came three years later. Carina had never been back to Cuba all of these years. One afternoon we went to the address where she knew she had lived the first seven years of her life. She was able to enter and to talk to the current residents. It was a very moving time for her and a very tender time for the rest of us to witness this moment.

Bigger picture, I loved the beautiful and strong expressions of art both on the streets and in galleries and museums. I loved the passion that Cubans have for their history and their future. I loved seeing the light of appreciation when we spoke with local people. They really are a genuinely warm and welcoming people.

“Since returning, I’ve had so many strong responses to the Cuban experience. It seems that it is such an intriguing country to many for numerous reasons. I would like to return in a year to again experience all that it has to offer…I’ll also, probably, take a Salsa Dance class!”

What did you think of your guide? What about your accommodations ?

Tury was beyond exceptional! Always there with so much history and information about a wide range of topics. He was very vigilant about the safety of all of our group. He was delighted to give us, “surprises that I know you’ll love”! And we did! Almost every day there was a wonderful surprise ahead – a stop with a ride on a railway cart, a stop at a yummy fruit stand and the wonderful dance performance that was done just for us. There’s more, but you just need to GO to learn more.

I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely our casa was in Havana. Our host was welcoming and lovely, the rooms were nicely furnished and spotlessly clean. In Trinidad our group was in three different casas, all in the same block. These casas had been renovated in such a lovely manner. Again, the hosts were so gracious and welcoming. On the evening we were on our own for dinner, we found a nice little place right across the street. We were delighted with the service and food. Our waiter was also delighted to have us all fill his little place.

Cuba vacation
Vibrant Cuban art

Are there any clothes / shoes / toiletries / camera equipment items you’d say are must-brings on this trip?

The Travel Portal on the DC website covered this nicely. I did well with short sleeves and a pashmina as a wrap for evening. We did have lovely rain twice and the umbrella came in handy.

What would you say to someone thinking about traveling to Cuba with Discover Corps?

JUST GO!!! Everyone I’ve shared with has said that they would love to go to Cuba. I can reassure them that travel with DC has been so well supported and implemented.

Anything else you would like to add?

Since returning I’ve had so many strong responses to the Cuban experience. It seems that it is such an intriguing country to many for numerous reasons. I would like to return in a year to again experience all that it has to offer. I often find that reading about a place I’ve been after I was there is more meaningful. I will use this year to read more to have a deeper understanding of the history of Cuba. I’ll also, probably, take a Salsa Dance class!

Five Cuba Travel Options

Discover which Cuba trip is best for you and your family from these 5 options:

Mar
25

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Discover Corps Diet Friendly Locations Guide [Infographic]

Posted by on March 25, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

Food can be a wildcard when you travel. Will it be tasty, spicy, chewy…cold? Certainly, part of the beauty of traveling is the unknown delicacies that await, but if you’re gluten-free, it’s nice to avoid the guessing game. Let our Diet Friendly Locations Guide point you in the right dietary direction, with countries that have options for vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo diets, and more:

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Mar
18

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Interview from Thailand: Discover Corps’ Guide Tam

Posted by on March 18, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

After being a tour guide for so many years, you might think Discover Corps Guide Siwarkorn Hkt, or “Tam”, has probably done and seen it all. There’s something, however, that keeps him smiling and talking about how much he loves his job: the people. Of course, the wildlife and beautiful scenery on the Thailand: Elephants & Islands Expedition are incredible, but it’s the people that really stand out for him. From the conversations and shared experiences between travelers, to the time spent with locals, these relationships built while on your volunteer vacation stay with you for a lifetime.

“On the second day of elephant camp when we return in the morning time, the elephant makes noise to say hi or hello…the elephant remembers you, it smells you, it remembers your face and also your voice!” – Tam

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Feb
18

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Havana Biennial: Everything You Need to Know about Cuba’s Most-Anticipated Art Festival

Posted by on February 18, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

The Havana Biennial is back! For the first time since 2015, the world renown, month-long art exhibition will be held this April in Cuba. If the countdown clock on biennialhavana.org is any indication, the world is eagerly awaiting its return.

Considering this event is nearly four years in the making and will help celebrate the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana, there is truly no better time to explore Cuba. Here’s everything you need to know about the highly-anticipated biennial festival, including a local’s perspective (quotations throughout) from Dayron Gonzalez, Discover Corps’ Cuban partner and Havana resident for 40 years:

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Feb
14

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To Love and Travel: 25 Perfect Quotes for Valentine’s Day

Posted by on February 14, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

Travel in itself is quite a romantic endeavor: The mystery and intrigue of exploring new places. Freedom to notice beautiful everyday details. The rush from an abrupt change in plans. And of course, the possibility of crossing paths with an intriguing, yet complete stranger.

When these elements, however, are shared with another person, it can spark the inspiration from which novels are written. Or in this case, a list of heartfelt quotes. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some of the best for adventure, companionship, travel and love:

1. “Let’s go somewhere where nobody knows our name.” – Anonymous

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