Let Cuba Change You: Dance in the Music Mecca of Santiago
Escape to a dream destination: tropical landscape, kissed by a light breeze and hugged by warm, clear waters. Many islands fit this description, so how does one choose where to go? So many places to visit, so little time. While we’re still young and full of energy, let’s visit the largest Caribbean Island nation, Cuba. This year the Obama administration has made traveling to Cuba vastly easier. Although travelling to Cuba for the sole purpose of tourism is still technically forbidden, Americans can go for new categories such as family visits, professional research, performances, and educational or academic programs. We have a particular trip to Cuba that qualifies as a program for legal entry. Taking a trip to a foreign land can be a bit intimidating for sure. There’s the language barrier, culture-shock, and remnants of history lessons about Fidel Castro floating somewhere in our memory. Not to worry, however, as we have access to a wonderful trip organizer who will fill your days with activities and knowledge to enjoy some of the best parts of Cuba in Havana and Santiago.
Planning a Trip to Cuba
Finding a trip organizer in general is a daunting task because you don’t want to be bogged down by a strict itinerary, but you don’t want to be left in the dark about what you might be missing out on either.
The help you need for trip planning is not from a tour guide, but a local who is passionate about their work.
Meet Ramón Ramos Alyo.
See Cuba from the Local Perspective
The best of any travel program you see on television showcases a local artisan and their incredible life’s work. You want to see something special about the land you are visiting for the first time. Ramón is a Cuban-born dancer, teacher, and choreographer who is an expert at contemporary and folkloric dance. As the founder and artistic director of the Alayo Dance Company and CubaCaribe, he shows his love for the medium using his extensive knowledge and education from the Havana’s National School of Art. You won’t find much more passion than from Ramón.
Be Inspired by Dance, Love, and Food
The trip he has organized is a two-week program, December 11-25, that immerses travelers in Cuban culture and must-do sightseeing all centered around a renowned dance program featuring dance styles such as: Salsa, Rueda de Casino, Cha Cha Cha, Mamba, Son, Rumba and more. Spend one week in colorful Havana and a week in the musical mecca known as Santiago. Ramón in collaboration with Kalia Orlena, Susana Arenas, and Yismari Ramos are dedicated to making you feel at home in the beautiful land of Cuba. They “truly care about the well-being of their dancers/students” Maresha Wagner, a past attendee. They have organized the trip so well you are sure to be kept entertained and busy with free days included to venture off on your own. Past trip-goers came back with the experience of a lifetime. Their days and nights in Cuba were thoroughly planned with activities and a personal look into Ramón’s hometown. This program will help you bring back home a new appreciation for dance and other artistic forms of expression that make up the soul of Cuba.
Part of the amazing Cuban culture is how friendly the people are, treating everyone like family. This trip, “Dance in Cuba” embodies that familial culture by providing comfortable accommodations and delicious home-cooked meals. People on the trip often make friends with the locals and are more than welcome to invite their guests back to their “casa particulares” which are similar to a bed and breakfast. Not only will you get to experience authentic Cuba, you will be given daily dance classes by highly trained professionals.
Ramón has been exquisitely passionate about dance for more than 2 decades, having earned his masters degree in contemporary and folkloric dance and dance education in 1990. He teaches Cuban popular dance, Afro-Cuban modern dance and children’s movement at several local dance studios and schools. He has choreographed and produced eight full-length dance performances. It is a great honor to work with such a passionate human being and each traveler will be given personal attention by dance professionals. Whether you are a beginner to dance or well-versed, anyone can enjoy the dance aspect of the trip. The trip organizers are on a mission to preserve and promote the lively artistic and cultural traditions of the Caribbean. You can learn more about the details of the trip on the sign-up page.
Visit Cuba before the Real Stuff Disappears
Since access to Cuba has drastically opened up in this past year, many worry about the island retaining its rich culture and beautiful land. Anthony Bourdain’s special of No Reservations urges people to see the real Cuba before tourism takes over and Americanizes all the food and drink. Skeptics say that it will be many years before such a transformation could possibly take over and Cuba loses its authenticity. Still, now is a better time than ever to visit the tropical haven. There are new luxuries like air conditioning and sushi (seriously!) but don’t count on being able to connect to the internet easily out there yet. On this trip you will be able to see the busy city of Havana, in all its historic density plus all recent renovations. Then, when traveling to Santiago, you will see Cuba as it has always been, nearly untouched and covered in biodiversity. This program is essentially the chance to see Cuba in a nutshell and emerge from it a changed person.
What a fantastic time to be alive and hungry for travel. People are now able to travel farther than ever before, and more are making travel a priority in their lives. Though the reasons behind why we travel differ from person to person, ultimately we’re trying to reach the same goal. See something new, taste something exotic, feel something different. Unless you’re Anthony Bourdain, I can’t think of a better way to get a first hand trip through Cuba like a member of the family. Hurry up to register, because the deadline to sign up is Tuesday, October 20, 2015. See you on the dancefloor!