Ask An Alumni: A Cuba trip through the eyes of a Discover Corps traveler
Vacation time! Where will you go? What will you do? If “Go on a Cuba Trip” tops your list, we’ve got just the thing for you. While we pride ourselves on being as informative and helpful as possible, we’re not in this alone. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do if we didn’t have such incredible travelers!
You’ve seen the promos. You’ve visited our website (and, obviously, our blog). You already follow us on Facebook. But how do you know what one of our trips is really like? Ask a Discover Corps Alumni! We’ve done the legwork for you.
Meet Gina, Discover Corps Alumni who decided on a Cuba trip.
From planning to experiencing, eating, and reminiscing, Gina shares all. Read on to see what going to Havana for a long weekend is really like.
CUBA TRIP PLANNING
Why did you choose Discover Corps for your Cuba trip, versus any other travel company?
“I chose Discover Corps because their catalog had informative information and their customer service accessibility was better than using travel agents. They were also able to expedite the visa I needed for Cuba.” (Editor’s note: If you’d like a free catalog, be sure to request one here.)
What made you choose this Cuba trip in particular?
“I wanted to see Cuba now before the changes with tourism, etc. I was also pleased to know there was a 4 day option. With limited communication due to no internet and phone plan accessibility, I liked the idea that the trip would be quick.”
Could you have done these activities if you visited Cuba independently?
“There is no way we could’ve done all the activities on our program on our own. That was the best part of the trip and why I want to use Discover Corp again! Our driver, guide, excursions, museum and gallery admissions, etc. all went seamlessly. I met other tourists who did not experience much in Havana because they were on their own and didn’t really know what to see and do.”
CUBA TRIP: THE EXPERIENCE
What was the most memorable experience from your Cuba trip?
“Everything was so memorable but I would have to say that the opportunity to go down into the rainforest in Havana was very unexpected on this art and culture itinerary. On our panoramic tour of Havana, we stopped at this lush rainforest. Coincidentally, some people were performing a Santeria cleansing ritual with chickens at the riverbank. This local, authentic ritual was mesmerizing and unique. The timing was coincidental and the visuals are unforgettable.”
What were you most surprised to learn about life in Cuba?
“The laid back vibe of the people was surprising to me. Their pride and joy was lovely to see. I found Havana to be very clean and unpolluted. Despite what you hear about the crumble, the architecture was vivid, vibrant and stately.”
What did you think of your guide?
“Luis was an impeccable guide! His background as a professor and his bilingual skills made our trip so informative. He was social, friendly and very open to our American ways and conversations.”
What local foods did you try? Did you love/hate them?
“We tried chicken, beef and seafood. They were fine. Being Greek, I am used to very elaborate cuisine. The size of the lobster on our last night’s meal was impressive! I couldn’t finish it all!”
GINA’S TIPS FOR A FANTASTIC CUBA TRIP
What tips would you give someone considering going on the trip you went on?
“Start early changing your American money into Euros (to change into Cuban money once you arrive at the airport). We cut it very close with a bank holiday for July 4th.”
What is one thing you wish you’d known before traveling to Cuba?
“I felt very prepared for this trip. The literature from Discover Corp and the articles I read online gave me a lot of insight and preparation. I took pens and money to give locals but I should’ve taken more items like candy, lotions, soaps, etc. because the people really look forward to those items.”
What other volunteer vacations would you consider going on?
Are there any clothes/shoes/toiletries/camera equipment items you’d say are must-brings on this trip?
“I brought three kinds of cameras to be on the safe side. I bought back up batteries, digi cards etc because I took around 2,000 photos I think. Walking shoes is all you need but I brought one pair of dressier sandals for night time events. I suggest alternating between a fixed lens and a smaller camera that has a zoom lens in taking photos. That way, you can get the same shot with different angles (especially if you’re getting the shots from a van.) I hung my smaller camera on a lanyard to wear around my neck for easy access in alternating.”
A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES
A Cuba trip is nothing short of unforgettable. From the music to food, art to culture, architecture to wildlife, you’ll quickly see why it’s called “The Pearl of the Antilles.” But don’t take it from us…
“The Havana Weekend Getaway was a seamless trip. Supporting the locals by staying in casas and eating at paladars directly supported the people. Cuba is a vibrant and vivid country that excels in artistic expression while it is on the cusp of transition.” – Gina Kingsley, Discover Corps Traveler
Have you been on a Discover Corps trip? How was your experience? Tell us in the comments below!