Question: I was wondering if you have any ideas about short courses (approx. one week) I could do in Havana – to meet some people and taste the Cuban culture, perhaps even learn some Spanish, write, try Cuban Salsa or even just guided walking tours around the city. Any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated!
Answer: There are a number of sources of information for things to do in Havana, especially in relation to learning Spanish or Cuban Salsa, etc. Although a simple google search will pull up programs offered by overseas organizations, there are some Cuban organizations and websites that you might want to check out first.
One is Cubamar Viajes, a Travel Agency specializing in Nature, Adventure, Youth Tourism and Socio-Cultural Interchanges. Their website is www.cubamarviajes.cu and you can access it in either Spanish or English. On their home page, if you click under Tourist programs and look at the bottom of the page under Culture and identity, you will notice that they offer both Spanish and Dancing courses. Click under either one of them and you will find additional information. Both offer programs for either one person or a group, and for a one-week or longer duration.
An overseas agency which works in coordination with Cubamar Viajes and which offers both Spanish Courses and Dancing, isSPRACHCAFFE Languages PLUS, a German non-governmental organization that assists cultural projects in Cuba. Because it is mentioned in the Cubamar Viajes website, we are mentioning it here as well. Their website is www.sprachcaffe.com
The Universidad de La Habana also offers Spanish classes of varying lengths, although it may be that the minimum is two weeks. Check out their website at www.uh.cu which appears to exist only in Spanish. On the main page, click Lenguas Extranjeras under the list of Facultades (Faculties) on the left hand side and you’ll find more information.
Also check out Paradiso / Servicios Culturales Academicos, a cultural tourism travel agency coming under the Cuban Ministry of Culture. Their website www.paradiso.cu , which exists in both Spanish and English, doesn’t appear to provide a lot of information for people with casual interests in learning dancing. However, once in Havana you can call their office in Miramar (204-1451) and/or Vedado (832-6928 and 832-9538) to ask about dance classes.
If you’re interested in learning tango in Havana, check out the Casa del Tango “Edmundo Daubal” (also known as “El Caseron”) located in Centro Habana (see address below). This is a small cultural centre-museum run by tango lovers, and which also provides dance classes in other Cuban dances (salsa, rumba, cha cha cha, etc.) This program also receives support from Sprachcaffe.
Casa del Tango “Edmundo Daubal”
e/ Aguila y Italia (also called Galeano)
Centro HabanaTel 863?0097
You can also get information on dancing and Spanish courses, as well as about guided walks and other activities, from Infotur, which is an Information Centre created in April 1998 by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism to provide information and programs for individuals or small groups who want to do things “off the beaten track”. You could visit their website at www.infotur.cu – available in Spanish, English, French, German and Russian – or visit one of their several offices in Havana once you’re here. One that is centrally located is in Habana Vieja (Obispo #524, Telephone 866-3333). On their website, at the bottom of the page, if you click on Questions, you can email your queries directly to Infotur and receive a response from them.