Wednesday, 17 October 2018

VOLUNTEERING ON A COMMUNITY PROJECT IN CUBA

Finca Tungasuk is an amazing project located 25 km from Havana on the road to Pinar del Rio, a slice of heaven, an inspiration to work alongside Annabelle and her beautiful organic farm in Cuba.

Annabelle arranged for her neighbour, Pedro, to pick me up, as well as Jeanne & Justin from Boston, 2 other volunteers, from our respective Casas in Havana at 7am.

As soon as we arrived, Annabelle welcomed us to her organic farm with some delicious home-made mango & guava yoghurt, made by a local farmer, grated coconut dessert and a cup of Cuban coffee. Before she set us to work in the farm, Annabelle told us all about her journey to Cuba and what led her to changing her life, buying a house in the countryside and starting an organic farm in Cuba.

Annabelle and her husband Alfredo moved to Cuba from Paris in 2013. Annabelle originally from Nicaragua was working as a chef in Paris when her and her Peruvian husband decided to open an organic farm in Cuba and work as a cooperative within the community. Cuba seemed like a natural choice to them as Alfredo’s parents had settled in Cuba in 1997 and it seemed like the perfect place to build their dream.

The initial year was tough, they had to clear the land free of the Cuban weed maribou to prepare the beginnings of their organic farming project. It took a lot of research and determination to learn about organic farming, however they have learnt from their experiences and have shared their knowledge with the local community in Caimitas, Artemisa.

Their hard work has paid off and now they are growing traditional Cuban fruit and vegetables; papaya, sugar cane, corn, mango. They are trying to revive fruits and vegetables indigenous to Cuba, which have been lost over time, as well as growing pak choi, lemon grass and other produce not commonly found and grown in Cuba.

As well as running the organic farm Annabelle and Alfredo now welcome volunteers to their farm looking to experience something different in Cuba. Our voluntary work at the organic farm in Cuba consisted of re-planting tomato, cauliflower and pack choi plants on a fresh plot of land where they will be nurtured without chemicals to grow into delicious organic vegetables. The experience left the 3 of us even more appreciative of the hard work farmers like Annabelle and her family endure when producing healthy, organic, fresh products for us to eat.

After our hard work, we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch with Annabelle’s family before Pedro took us back to Havana, totally grateful for meeting Annabelle and her family, for welcoming us into their world and for having the opportunity to take part in this wonderful Cuban experience.

Experience the Real Cuba offers cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses, as well as organising accommodation in Casa Particulares.

To find out more about our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:

www.experiencetherealcuba.com

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Monday, 22 January 2018

HOW TO BOOK A CASA PARTICULAR IN CUBA


WHAT IS A CASA PARTICULAR?

A Casa Particular in Cuba is like a B&B, guesthouse, or family homestay. 

WHAT FACILITIES DO CASAS IN CUBA OFFER?

Casas in Cuba vary, sometimes rooms are within the Cuban family home and sometimes guest accommodation in a Casa Particular is on a different floor with an independent entrance. Most of the time bedrooms in a Casa Particular come with private en-suite bathrooms. Rooms in a Casa Particular have air-conditioning or fans and the Casas provide towels. Some Casas in Cuba are starting to offer additional facilities for example, hairdryers, mini-bar, tv, safety boxes etc.

Whatever the conditions, Cuban families are friendly, welcoming, and respect your privacy. Staying in a Casa Particular is a great way to experience Cuba but just bear in mind that Cuba has its shortages so water may be scarce, hot water may not be as hot as you are used to or it may take time to heat up, towels may be smaller than you are used to and things run slowly so the key to making the most of your experience in Cuba is to be patient and take things in your stride. 

WHY ARE CUBAN CASAS CALLED HOSTALS?


You will find that some Cuban Casas have named themselves Hostal XXX i.e. Hostal Misleydis & Gustavo. This is another term they use denoting that they have a guest house, B&B, homestay or Casa Particular in Cuba. It is not necessarily a backpacker or budget hostel.

ARE THERE ANY BACKPACKERS OR HOSTELS IN CUBA?


I have stayed in a couple of backpacker type accommodations in Havana, however, there are very few backpacker or hostel type accommodations available in Cuba where tourists on a budget visiting Cuba can share a room with other travelers or backpackers i.e. a shared room for 6 people with bunk beds. 

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE CUBAN CASA IS LEGAL?

Cuban Casas who are legally allowed to rent their homes to foreign visitors or travelers have a blue and white sticker posted on their front door. Anyone that stays at a Cuban Casa must sign the guestbook. Cuban Casa owners then have to report to immigration with your passport details declaring who is staying with them in their Casa Particular.


Casa Cuba


HOW DO I BOOK A CASA IN CUBA?

Experience the Real Cuba works with a network of Casas in Cuba. The Casa Particulares that we work with are friends and contacts that we have made over the years and have been carefully selected for their professionalism and excellent hospitality.

To book one of our many Casas in Cuba and ensure you have an amazing stay in Cuba hit the following link:

https://www.experiencetherealcuba.com/destination/

HOW DO I COMMUNICATE WITH A CUBAN CASA?

Communicating with Casas in Cuba can be difficult. Internet connection in Cuba is a challenge and it is not always easy for Cubans to connect to the WIFI in Cuba every day. 

At Experience the Real Cuba we communicate with the Casas in Cuba on your behalf. We have Co-ordinators located in Cuba who have an excellent relationship with the Casas in Cuba and we aim to get back to Cuban Casa enquiries as fast as we can.

HOW DOES THE CUBA CASA BOOKING WEBSITE WORK?

At Experience the Real Cuba we work in conjunction with the Casas in Cuba to offer the easiest Cuban Casa booking system for both the Casa and the traveler visiting Cuba.


1.       Find a Cuban Casa that you like on the Experiencethe Real Cuba website

2.       Click the “book now” button

3.       I will receive an email with your request

4.       I will communicate with the Casas in Cuba to check availability

5.       I get back to you within 72 hours

6.       If the Casa in Cuba is available we will confirm the Casa reservation

7.       You pay a booking fee in advance to secure the Casa reservation

8.       Once payment is received I will send you confirmation details with the Cuban Casa contact details

9.       Once you arrive at your Casa in Cuba you pay the remaining balance in cash in Cuba (CUC).

EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – YOUTUBE

Check out the videos of some of our Casas in Cuba.


EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES

Experience the Real Cuba offers Casas Particulares in Cuba as well as cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses.

To find out more about Casas in Cuba and our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:

www.experiencetherealcuba.com

Cuba Casa
Casa Gomez

Cuba Casa
Casa Gomez

Casa Cuba
Casa Destino

Cuba Casa
Casa Destino
Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806

Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806

Casa Cuba
Casa German 1806

Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806
Cuba Casa
Casa Misleydis & Gustavo

Cuba Casa
Casa Misleydis & Gustavo