Cuban Homestays

DSCN1153

Alright, you’re probably wondering why I’m blogging about Cuba when I’m currently in Poland. I meant to blog about this earlier in the year, but life happened, and I didn’t have the time. But now I do.

As winter is on the way, it’s time to start planning vacations in the tropics. For a lot of fellow Canadians, you’ve likely got Cuba on the radar. But instead of doing the traditional route of package holidays at resorts, why not consider doing a homestay in Cuba? I’m not suggesting foregoing the resorts, but rather include a homestay before or after your resort stay.

Myself and a good friend from Spain traveled to Cuba last Christmas and we stayed in three different homestays in Havana, Viñales, and Pinar del Rio. We absolutely loved it, and we felt as if we were experiencing authentic Cuban life! We experienced authentic culture, and discovered places we wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, our family in Havana introduced us to this dive bar serving the cheapest beer in town!

Cuban homestays?

In Cuba, they are known as Casas Particulares. The idea is you stay with a family that is officially registered with the government. The family can range from a traditional family or a single, divorced or widowed home owner. They provide daily breakfast and your own room with shared or private bathroom. The Casas are typically found away from the resorts. Since they are registered with the government, their homes are labelled with the surname of the family, family members, and the services they offer. Every casa also has a logo on their homes which looks like weird anchor in either red or blue. Blue means the house allows foreign guests to stay, while red means only Cubas can stay there. Very important to be aware of this!

So you say you get breakfast?

Yes. Now, breakfast is called desayuno in Spanish. Families will serve coffee or juice. Tea and milk is available upon request. Don’t expect bacon, eggs and waffles. A Cuban breakfast usually consists of mangoes, guava, bread with butter, montaditos with ham and cheese, and pineapples. Montaditos are small sandwiches. I actually enjoyed having a selection of fruit every morning.

Do the families speak English or other languages?

This depends on the family you end up staying with, but generally no. Having said this, it is a good idea to learn a few basics in Spanish before staying with them. If the language barrier becomes an obstacle, you can always use gestures to get the message across.

Will the families socialize with me?

Again, this depends on the family. However, you should not expect this. While they will be more than happy to help make your stay pleasant, they have their own lives to attend to. I found the families I stayed with to be cautious with foreigners for fear of saying something that might land them in legal trouble. While I’m on this subject, refrain from discussing politics with Cuban families. Cubans revere the Castros, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

Sounds great! So how I find a Casa?

This is not an easy task, simply due to the Internet situation, which is very difficult for ordinary Cubans to get. You could do a Google search, but be prepared to spend a lot of time researching. I recommend going with an organized tour to Cuba such as G Adventures. Tours such as these arrange stays in Casas, removing the labor work of finding them yourself. If tours are not your thing, I would suggest searching for a Casa in Havana since there they are plentiful there.

Cuba is truly a fascinating and beautiful country. One should go there at least once in their lifetime. And a stay in a Casa will be an experience you will never forget – in a good way!

 

Categories: My Travels | Tags: , , , , ,

Weekend Writing Warriors – Sibling Revenge!

shade

Hello and Dzien dobry! as they say in here in Poland! Thanks for visiting my blog. The weekly blog hop is hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. Click on the link for participating guidelines and the official list of Writing Warriors.

I present an excerpt from Love Conquers, my YA WIP. This snippet picks up several lines from the previous one. Having been summoned to the kitchen by her dad, Melissa walks and lets her sister have it for sneaking into her room and teasing her. It’s what she did in the last snippet I shared. Creative punctuation has been used to fit the 10-sentence limit, and is in Melissa’s POV:

Ashley and my dad turn to me as I enter the kitchen. Ashley is perched on the kitchen island, swinging her legs, and thumbs working away on her smartphone. 

I slam a balled fist into her arm as I pass her as she flashes me a smug-filled smile.

“Ow, what the fuck was that for?!”

“Melissa, what on earth has gotten into you?” Dad demands, jerking his coffee mug.

“She snuck into my room while I was sleepin’ scared the shit outta me,” I protest, pointing to the cause of my morning misery. “That’s the third time this week! Tell her to stop!”

His eyes shoot over to my little sister. “Ashley, did you tease your sister, again?”

Typical sibling rivalry! For those of you who’ve been in Dad’s situation, you can appreciate and understand! Your thoughts and feedback are most welcome! I’m visiting a mutual friend in Warsaw today, so I won’t be able to respond to comments until later.

On a personal note, I have been settling into my new life in Poland. It’s been a learning curve adjusting to a new culture, language as well as the new job! I have to admit it has been very stressful and challenging, but overall I am enjoying being abroad and glad I took this plunge. I’ve always wanted to teach abroad, and now I’m doing it!

Have a good weekend! Do widzenia!

#8Sunday

Categories: Weekend Writing Warriors | Tags: , , , , , ,

Polish 101

img_0485

Hi! Thanks for visiting! As I am living in Poland, I’ve been teaching myself some Polish phrases. I use Duolingo to learn Polish everyday. It isn’t much, but it’s five minutes of learning and recycling new words. With my teaching schedule, I don’t have enough time to take language classes. But with constant exposure to the language, greeting my coworkers in Polish, as well as watching Polish TV, I’m learning and retaining new words all the time!

What does Polish look like? I would say it is similar to Russian since it is a Slavic language. It does require a learning curve and many Poles are aware of this. Here’s a crash course in Polish:

Dzień dobry (jEN dobree) – Good morning, good afternoon

Dziękuję (jEn-koo-yeh) – thank you

Dobry wieczór – good evening

Dobranoc – good night

Tak – yes

Nie – no

mleko – milk

chleb – bread

jablko – apple

kawa – coffee

piwo – beer

jeden (yeden) – one

dwa (dva) – two

trzy (tshi) – three

cztery (chteri) – four

pięć (p-yENch) – five

Pronunciation is harder than you think. Thankfully, Duolingo shows you how words are pronounced by native speakers. I’m inclined when it comes to learning languages; I speak Spanish and some German and French.

When Polish becomes tricky, I simple say “Nie mowię po polsku” (I don’t speak Polish). Poles really appreciate it when you try to speak their language, knowing very well it’s not the easiest language to learn. Luckily, when I go to Warsaw or Krakow, English is widely understood and spoken.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Like what you see? Know someone who is going to Poland soon? Share this post with your poison of choice!

Categories: Life in Poland | Tags: , , , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.