Cuba 2020

For complete details, please visit our informational website: https://leadingedgeseminars.wixsite.com/experiencerealcuba
For Past/Present/Future Havana 2020 Tour registration, see below.
For flight/Varadero booking, please contact Cecilia Thompson at Sunwing: cthompson@sunwing.ca or call (877) 877-1755 ext. 8296

 

Cuba Beyond The Beaches

Ready to go beyond the beaches for a week in February to explore Havana? And squeeze some beach time in if your schedule permits?

Our week in Havana is designed to fully immerse participants in the past, present and future realities of Cuba. Through site visits, dynamic presentations and ongoing conversations over meals, coffee, drinks and leisurely neighbourhood walks with local experts and experienced tour guides, you will engage with the colonial past, the remnants of the Revolution in the present and the hopes and dreams of a future beyond Castro.

After our week in Havana, participants are invited to join us for resort vacation in Varadero.

Havana Highlights

  • We will explore the winding streets and plazas of Old Havana where the past is still very present. Designated a UNESCO world heritage site, architecture dating back to the 16th century provides the backdrop for more recent places of historical interest such as the John Lennon Park and the Yellow Submarine Club (home to Cuban bands celebrating rock n’ roll from the 60s and 70s), recent neighbourhood restorations and new restaurants.

  • Morning talks and conversation cafés with local experts will delve into the social economic conditions of the present, the impact of the ongoing shifts in US policy towards the island as well as how Cubans have addressed health, education and social services despite the challenges of the US embargo. We will also get a chance to hear what informed Cubans have to say about the country’s future.

  • A visit to Cuba’s first urban organic farm, Alamar, where you will have a chance to sit down with the farmers and its founders for a meal. Today, half of Cuba’s fruits and vegetables are grown in similar collective organic farms.

The Special Ingredient of our Trips? OUR PEOPLE

Roberto and Rita are the keys to the insider’s perspective of Cuba. Roberto is one of Cuba’s top environmentalists and Rita is an experienced leader in Cuba’s social policy and women’s programs as well as a lawyer. Both are world-travellers themselves and are an incredible resource for our travels. Through their presentations, introductions and company throughout the trip, they will provide up-to-date commentary on what is happening in Cuba today and what is possible for the future.

People You Will Meet Along the Way:

  • Alberto Cremata started a small community and parent-run after school music and theatre club in his neighborhood twenty years ago. Today La Colmenita (“the little bee hive) is an internationally-recognized children’s theatre group that is much beloved in Cuba. Appointed as UNESCO “Goodwill Ambassadors, La Colmenita has performed around the world.

  • Dr. Georgina Fariñas introduced music, dance and movement to special needs groups in 1974. Her “psychoballet” is a moving and enjoyable approach that helps young and old program participants perform and connect with their audience and the world beyond themselves.

  • An economic policy analyst from the University of Havana who consults with government

  • For those coming with us to Varadero, we will have one outing to meet with Nacyra Gomez Cruz, the dynamic director of the Casa del Carino (Home of Loving Care). This is a project of the Varadero Presbyterian-Reformed Church which has developed many in-house programs at the Casa. The centre is located in an old mansion across the street from a beach.

PROFITS GO BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES

All profits from our tours are donated to Cuban organizations, many of which cater to women and families. Our main sponsor is the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for the Environment and Humanity, which provides range of services for Cuban communities to promote sustainability and community service.

Havana Past/Present/Future Tour 2020

Sunday, February 2 to Sunday, February 9, 2020

Our signature insider’s tour! For 20 years we’ve been going to Cuba to explore Havana, mingle with the locals, visit unique local projects and to have a good time! Once again, two of Cuba’s finest guides will be on hand: Rita, active in the Cuban women’s movement for 25 years and an experienced group leader and Roberto, one of Cuba’s top environmentalists with encyclopedic knowledge of all things Cuban. Rita and Roberto will be taking us to places of cultural and historical interest as well as Havana’s most engaging neighbourhoods, cultural sights and restaurants. Michael has been leading these groups for years and will provide support, insights and inside tips on the latest new restaurants and the best places for ice cream and coffee!

Accommodations:

We will be staying in an B&B located in Havanas Vedado’s neighbourhood. This is a vibrant area near the University of Havana featuring many places of interest. We will have four rooms in a large and beautiful house built by the vice president of Cuba in 2002. Single and double rooms available. We will also have additional apartments in an apartment building across the street from this house. Breakfast is included.  And when the week is over, you can return to Toronto on a Sunwing flight or stay with other group participants at one of the top-rated Varadero resort hotels.

Sunday, February 2 

  • Morning: We recommend booking with Sunwing from Toronto to Varadero with a morning arrival.
  • A bus will be awaiting us and we will head to Havana.
  • Afternoon: check into our accommodations, group orientation meeting,
  • Evening: Dinner at local restaurant

Monday, February 3

  • Breakfast
  • 9:30am: Old Havana walking tour. “Old Havana” was founded in the 16th century
    and became a major port of call for the Spanish treasure fleet when crossing the
    Atlantic to transport goods from territories in the Americas to Spain. It is a
    designated UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Rita and Roberto will each lead a group. They will tour the historical sites and plazas
    while discussing the architecture and the historical significance of the area.
  • LUNCH
  • 1:30-2:30:
  • Visit to Havana Arts and Crafts Market.
  • We will provide suggestions for interesting museums and other Havana spots that you might want to visit.
  • 6:30pm: Meet for 7:00 pm dinner (optional)

Tuesday, February 4 – Saturday, February, 8

  • 9:00am: Each morning will begin with a morning talk and conversation period with guest speakers who are experts in the field of topics such as women’s and LGBTQ rights, the law, public health, mental health, technology, the environment and economics. Current issues and future prospects, plans and opportunities will be explored.
  • Optional Dinner: Each night, the group will meet at 6:30pm to go for a group dinner. In recent years, Havana has seen a huge increase in the volume and quality of restaurants. We will be finding the most interesting ones to dine at. Dinner is not included in the fees and is entirely optional.

Tuesday, February 4

  • 9:00am: See morning talks above
  • 11:00am: Psychoballet Visit – Psychoballet is a type of music and dance therapy created in Cuba by psychologists Dr. Elsa Gutierrez in the 1970s as a way move beyond traditional psychotherapy to help populations with special needs. It is now a popular approach throughout Cuba and Latin America. We will have a chance to meet the founder and crew members for a Q and A as well as watch performances.
  • 1:00pm: Lunch in Old Havana
  • Afternoon: Free time – We will provide suggestions for interesting museums and other Havana spots that you might want to visit.
  • 6:30pm: Meet for dinner
  • After Dinner: Current cultural events happening in Havana. In the past, our groups have attended to ballet, theatre and jazz performances, participated in salsa classes, listened to local musicians at neighbourhood live music venues… we will see what’s on and let you know.

Wednesday, February 5

  • 9:00am: See morning talks above
  • 11:00: Visit to the Antonio Nunez Jimenez foundation for nature and humanity. This is one of the few foundations in Cuba that is devoted to sustainability. Their offices are also a museum of cultural and historical artefacts and significant paintings from Cuba‘s past and recent times.
  • 1:00pm-2:30 pm: Lunch in the Playa neighbourhood
  • Afternoon: Free Time – We will provide suggestions for interesting museums and other Havana spots that you might want to visit.
  • 6:30pm: Meet for dinner

Thursday, February 6

  • (No morning talk today)
  • 9:30am: Bus to Organic Farm – We will visit the first organic farm developed in Cuba. Founded in the 1990s, this project was a response to the economic crisis and the loss of oil after the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block collapsed. With scant resources, Cuba had to develop a new way of producing food. Organic farms, located near cities, were developed throughout Cuba. We will meet with one of the founders and staff, tour the farm and learn about the history of the project as well as the current food situation in Cuba
  • Lunch and afternoon: We will go Cojimar, a fishing village where Hemingway hung out. We will have lunch there and learn about Hemingway’s life here and this village.
  • 7:00pm: Dinner

Friday, February 7

  • 9:00-11:00: Morning talk
  • Free time
  • 4:00pm: Performance and meeting with founder, staff and children of La Colmenita, The “Little Beehive”. La Colmenita is Cuba’s internationally-acclaimed children’s musical theatre group. Developed in the 1990s as a way of encouraging children in a community to participate in music and dance, the company has evolved into a significant organization with many local chapters throughout Cuba. We will meet the founder and director of La Comenita, Alberto “Tin” Cremata and attend a performance afterwards. Our visits to this group have always been one of the highlights of our tours.
  • Dinner in Old Havana

Saturday, February 8

  • 9:00am: Morning talk
  • 11:30am: Visit to the home of Haydee and Abel Santamaria. This brother and sister were part of Fidel Castro’s inner circle of friends wanting to create change in Cuba in the early 1950s. Their apartment served as a meeting place where Castro and his followers developed the first revolutionary act in 1952. The apartment is now a museum and offers a chance to learn more about Fidel Castro, his friends and the Cuban revolution.
  • 1:00pm-2:30 pm: Lunch in the Vedado neighbourhood
  • Afternoon: Free time
  • 6:30pm: Last night dinner

Sunday morning, February 9

  • Return to Varadero to board flight back to Toronto OR….

For those of you wanting a little beach time to balance out the city, we’re offering the opportunity to hang out with some great people at the Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort and Spa, one of Varadero’s top-rated hotels according to TripAdvisor!

Travellers are welcome to join us for both Havana AND Varadero or just one or the other. It’s all up to you 😊

Cost: $1950/person + flight (Book your flight through Cecilia Thompson at Sunwing for their flight/hotel packages: cthompson@sunwing.ca or call (877) 877-1755 ext. 8296)
***Alterations to the above schedule may occur due to the realities of Cuba planning***

Extend Your Stay

Interested in extending your stay in Cuba. Here are some options:

You can book a return Sunwing flight through February 16.

  1. Stay at The Royalton Hicanos Varadero Resort and Spa is a top-rated Trip Advisor all-inclusive property, with many features. You decide how many days. Here you’ll have a chance to relax, hang out, enjoy the beach and dine with our group or explore on your own.  In addition, there will be an outing to an inspiring community program in the city of Varadero. We will meet the founder, have lunch and hear about the work they do in a renovated mansion near the town beach. Sunwing vacations offers flight/hotel package rates for 3, 5 or 7 days. You are free to choose the duration of your stay.
  2. Stay a few days at this resort and then move to an Airbnb in the town of Varadero. This option will give you access to the beach in town there are many apartment options in VaraderoAs well as restaurants coffee shops and  places of interest.
  3. Spend further time in Havana or a Varadero B&B.

To get more information about your travel options for this week, please contact Cecilia Thompson at Sunwing for their flight/hotel packages:  cthompson@sunwing.ca or call (877) 877-1755 ext. 8296.

NEXT STEPS:

Here’s how to book to join us in Cuba.
1. Decide if you are going on the Past/Present/Future Tour only, or if you would like to extend your time in Cuba on your own or by joining us for Beach Week.

2. If attending Past/Present/Future tour only: Click here to book the Havana Land Tour and book Sunwing flight directly. Contact Cecilia Thompson at cthompson@sunwing.ca or call (877) 877-1755 ext. 8296

3. To book Sunwing flights or flight/Varadero hotel package: contact Cecilia Thompson at cthompson@sunwing.ca or call (877) 877-1755 ext. 8296

4.  Bus transfers February 2 from Sunwing flight from Varadero to our Havana accommodations and February 9 Havana to either Varadero airport or the Royalton Hicacos are included in your Havana Past/Present/Future payment to Leading Edge Seminars.

Tour Information

Contact Michael Kerman by email or Phone 647-308-1400
The Havana Cuba tour is a program operated by Leading Edge Seminars Inc.
Toronto, Ontario Canada (http://www.leadingedgeseminars.org)

Refunds: No refund is made for unused travel services or any portion hereof, nor is the value of the unused services exchangeable for alternative arrangements.

Documentation: It is the responsibility of the traveler to be sure they have the proper documentation required for entry to their destination.

Notice: Living standards and practices as well as conditions and standards differ from country to country.

These tours are a program of Leading Edge Seminars Inc. Toronto, Ontario, Canada