Cuba has endured years of economic embargo, after fifty years little changed. In 2010 in an attempt to energise the slowing economy, the Cuban government decided to allow people to start up small business (including running home stays) and the following year Cubans received the right to private property transforming the nation's domestic way of life. Things started to change in Cuba with an improvement in the famously frosty and dangerous relationship with the US.
With this is mind, a lot of our Cuba tours feature homestay accommodation for two good reasons – to support local communities in earning a living and also it’s a fantastic way to experience Cuban hospitality and gain a real insight into the local life of Cuban families.
Imaginative Traveller Sales consultant Suzanne gives us the low-down on her recent experience at a Cuban homestay:
“Cuba was like nowhere I'd ever been before. From dancing salsa, watching the locals play guitar on the street and walking through the tobacco fields to swimming in waterfalls and exploring Havana's fascinating museums...I love the diversity that Cuba offers! One of the experiences which really captured my heart was our stay in a Casa Particular in Trinidad.
My husband and I arrived to the warm and inviting smiles of a local family, who looked after us from beginning to end. They played cards with us, chatted to us about Cuban life and cooked us delicious food (including lobster!). When my husband lost his ring, they spent hours helping us search for it; something which we were completely overwhelmed by! When we left after a few nights, we received a heartfelt goodbye from a couple who genuinely loved having people stay in their home. Despite the language barrier, the family went out of their way to communicate with us and ensure that we felt completely at home.
For me, there's no better way of reaching the heart of Cuban life than living amongst the locals. I would compare the experience to staying in a family run Bed and Breakfast, though with hospitality and warmth that you just wouldn't find anywhere else.”