Cuba Question & Answer
I thought it was illegal to travel to Cuba:
We will be traveling under the “Support for the Cuban People” group travel license, as stipulated by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Support for the Cuban People travel, which exists as part of the educational activities category, allows any American to legally travel to Cuba, provided they engage in a full-time schedule of activities. Travel must be for the purpose of engaging, while in Cuba, in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities. Sandunga Dance School, LLC was created to provide full-time educational people to people contact in Cuba. We have developed an itinerary that promotes educational exchange activities and meaningful interactions between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.
Where is Santiago de Cuba?:
Santiago de Cuba is on the eastern side of the Island. It is the second largest city in Cuba and at one time was the capital. It is 539 miles to the east of Havana. Santiago de Cuba sits on a bay and is surrounded by the Sierra Maestra mountain range.
Why are we going to Santiago?:
Santiago is often referred to as Cuba’s “cultural capital.” It is the birthplace of many Cuban rhythms and it is home to Sandunga Dance School. Santiago is geographically closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than Havana, contributing to its reputation as the Afro-Cuban cultural epicenter.
Why can’t we fly directly to Cuba from NYC?:
At the moment, there are no direct flights from NYC to the eastern side of the Cuban island. We will be flying to Holguin, Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, FL and travelling by American classic car to Santiago. This trip takes approximately 2.5 hours. This flight is included in the cost of your package. Everyone will be meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, 2/16/2019, for a very early morning flight to Cuba. It is recommended that you arrive in Fort Lauderdale no later than Friday evening, February 15, 2019.
What are we going to do?:
There will be classes each morning at Sandunga Dance School that will teach us Cuban movements and rhythms. Each participant will have a Cuban instructor and dance partner to promote learning and cultural exchange. There will also be two guided tours of Santiago’s historical sites. In addition, we will have two day trips outside the city to the beach and Finca El Porvenir. In the evenings, we have several outings planned with Sandunga Dance School to listen to Santiago’s rich music scene, practice your new dance skills and immerse yourself in the community. The week will culminate with a final dinner and party at Sandunga Dance School to celebrate with everyone you have met on your trip during the week.
But I don’t know how to dance?:
The classes are beginner classes and you will be guided gently through the beginning moves to give you a foundation. Rafael Martinez, the owner of Sandunga Dance School, has been teaching dance to beginners for over 10 years. He also has a degree in Physical Education and is very patient 😉
But I have been dancing for years and I don’t want a beginner class:
We will make arrangements to make sure that every person’s level of dance is assessed and their needs are met. Intermediate and advanced students will have classes for their level.
Where am I going to sleep?:
Everyone will be staying in a Casa Particular, which is similar to Airbnb. Each person will have a private room and bathroom for the duration of their stay. The system of Casa Particular in Cuba is very regulated by the Cuban government and is safe. Cubans have been “airbnbing” for about 20 years longer than us. Staying in a Casa Particular also helps to support our Support for the Cuban People travel license, as you will get to know the families you are staying with. This promotes small business in Cuba and cultural exchange. A majority of the homes have terraces, offering an additional space to relax on your trip. All of the Casa’s are located within 3-4 blocks of Sandunga Dance School and have air conditioning.
Can I share a room?:
You are always welcome to share a room with a partner or trusted friend, however, we do not offer a special price based on double occupancy. It is a flat rate per person.
Where will we eat?:
Breakfast is included in the package and will be provided each morning by your Casa. We encourage you to let your Casa owner know what works best for you. For example, if you prefer to eat before the classes or after both. There will be a few other meals included in the cost of the package, including a welcome dinner, lunch on our beach outing and the final dinner/party. There are many Paladars (private restaurants) and cafes for other meals.
I am a vegetarian/vegan:
Please let your Casa owner know if you have any dietary needs. They will do their best to accommodate you based on availability.
I don’t speak Spanish:
That’s ok. Rafael does and many people speak English. Some of the best fun we have is finding ways to communicate with the new people we have met. We will always be available to assist people if they find themselves in need of help.
Can I go to Havana?:
Sandunga is only providing licensed travel to Santiago de Cuba at this time. The flight included in the cost of your trip cannot be adjusted. If you are interested in traveling to Havana after the week is over, you can book a one-way ticket from Havana back to the United States directly on JetBlue.com. Also, Please be advised that obtaining a domestic flight in Cuba from outside the U.S. is not impossible, but can be very challenging. Cuban airlines do not accept U.S. credit cards and these flights can be unreliable and sometimes canceled with no explanation. Most people make the trip to Havana to Santiago by bus.