Corazon Cuba

Corazon Cuba

About

Corazon Cuba are based in the heart of Old Habana where we run programs combining learning Spanish, 'dance & discover' cultural excursions and meaningful volunteering to help you maximise your time in this amazing country. Cuba is a country like no other - gorgeous neo-classical buildings rubbing alongside primary coloured classic American cars, overlaid with exotic afro-Cuba music and some of the most exciting nightlife you will find anywhere.

Our programs are for 18+ but families are welcome too and there is no upper age limit to having fun in Cuba! We also offer tourism related activities across Cuba and we have programs based in Viñales and Trinidad. So... if you are interested in having a good time and learning more about Cuba please get in touch!

Website
corazoncuba.com
Founded
2015

Reviews

Default avatar
Anita
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The most culturally enriching experience of my life

When I decided that I would like to travel to Cuba, I did not know where to start or what the best way to go about it was. Corazon Cuba presented the opportunity to live amongst a mix of people from all over the world, yet also spend lots of time with the most friendly Cubans who work in the casa and direct the programme. Lionel is so kind, helpful and lots of fun to be around, along with the rest of the team. I would recommend this if you are planning to go as a group and especially as an individual; primarily to feel secure in your travels and to minimise pre-travel anxieties but also to reside in a fun and culturally enriching environment. It made me a lot more confident during my time in Cuba and my time spent far more worthwhile. The programme involves Spanish classes in the morning (which feel more like a conversation about the culture & history of the country but en español) followed by an afternoon of salsa dance classes, which definitely came in handy on our nights out over there.

It was the perfect place for me to improve my Spanish; I was above basic level prior to coming, but not only do you receive grammar lessons, you are also immersed in the language from the moment you wake up to when your head hits the pillow! A few of my friends had little to no Spanish at all, yet left with the ability to have conversations with locals so do not let the language barrier put you off.

One thing I would say is to bring bug spray and antihistamines! I was quite prone to the bug bites and as Havana is a city, I underestimated how many I would unfortunately encounter :(

Cuba is the most culturally rich country I have ever visited, and Havana and the people of this city are beautiful, intelligent souls.

Pros
  • Secure casa/ environment and trustworthy staff/ aircon in bedrooms
  • Fun, diverse itinerary with very interactive Spanish lessons around a table as opposed to desk:board situation
  • Opportunity to build relationships with Cubans in the casa and on the program and other students - Opportunity to explore with people who grew up in Cuba
Cons
  • Shopping for personal items difficult - ie bring own loo roll when leaving house
  • Cooking own food is difficult as not a lot of food available bar what is given and in restaurants so don't come expecting shopping malls!
  • Bring all toiletries you will need for this trip prior to arriving
Default avatar
Tom
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Spanish in Havana

I had initially only booked for one week but within a day added another week. This was because my teacher only spoke Spanish and my class consisted of 2 students only. So, I had the chance to learn a lot and I did. Another bonus was that the students lived in the school and there was thus a lot of interaction and social events.
Havana was excellent too with music, food and so much to see.

Pros
  • small classes
  • communal living
  • excellent city to be in
Cons
  • some more prepared lesson material would have been beneficial
Default avatar
Lola
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Genuinely most amazing trip you can go on!

I went to Cuba and got the chance to meet such amazing people on this programme, some travelling alone or in groups up to 4 so there was never a shortage of interesting people to talk to or go out with. Everyone including the staff and teachers were all so welcoming and great fun. I learned so much and got to experience things I never would have such as in Viñeales where I got to horse ride to a tobacco and coffee farm, or morning hikes to see the most incredible sunrise. My Spanish has also improved so much more since the trip, definitely thanks to the teachers as the classes are small in sizes to ensure everyone benefits. If I get the chance ever again I will be back 1000%

Pros
  • You can learn so many things on this programme like dance, Spanish, and you can request if there are certain activities available near such as scuba diving
  • You can come as a group or alone and you will still make friends
  • Safest place to travel, Cubans are extremely welcoming
Default avatar
Amy
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible immersive language school & volunteering in Havana

I can't recommend Corazon Cuba enough! This was a truly immersive experience getting to Havana and the Cuban people. The Spanish lessons and teachers were amazing - I already speak pretty much fluent Spanish and was put in an advance class that totally surpassed my expectations and I definitely came away improved. The volunteering program was fantastic, so much fun and everyone was so welcoming. I had the most incredible and unforgettable 2 weeks making friends and learning so much, and can't wait to go back another time.

Pros
  • Immersive
  • Meeting new people & locals
  • Langauges & learning
Cons
  • Sometimes shortages - but that's normal in Cuba!
Default avatar
Gar
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Better than I hoped it would be

We had so much fun on this trip. I was really hoping to get under the skin of Cuba and the local staff were so great at offering that experience. Really wish I could have stayed longer! Leo and the team were really considerate and attentive whenever I had questions or needed help. There’s so much to see in Havana and beyond, I would definitely suggest two weeks as minimum. Depending on time of year, I would go for the dry season if possible. Too many good bars and music spots to recommend…… Thanks guys

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared - Cuba is not up to speed with modern conveniences so make sure to come with an open mind and expect awful internet speeds!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Martina Bednjanec

Martina Bednjanec traveled to Cuba 5th to May 31st in 2014. She is from Zagreb, Croatia, a Geomatics engineer, and 26 years old. She has a Bachelor's degree from University of Zagreb and a Master's degree from Royal Institute of technology (KTH) in Stockholm in Geodesy and Geoinformatics. She studied and worked for five years in Stockholm, Sweden. She enjoys learning new languages and likes a Latin American style of life--relaxed with lots of music and dancing.
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Why did you decide to enroll with Corazon Cuba in Cuba?

I wanted to make a longer trip to South America and some Spanish speaking country to improve my Spanish. I found Corazon Cuba's program in Venezuela (called Travelling Classroom) through google.

It encompassed Spanish lessons with adventure traveling, which was a perfect match for what I was searching for.

As the situation in Venezuela is a bit unstable now, I was happy to hear that they opened the same program in Cuba and I decided to try it out.

If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

Hmm...difficult question. I was really satisfied with everything, so maybe I would point out that I'm sorry that I didn't do the diving trip with our guide, Joel. I didn't do it because of bad weather and rain during the two weekends. It was not possible to do it during working days because of our schedules were full with Spanish lessons.

Tell me about one person you met.

I met Joel, who was our guide and my companion for the most of my trip. It's just amazing to hear how the people of my age live in different cultures and to experience their lifestyle for a short time.

He introduced us to almost his whole family. His uncle Vianko is a renowned artist and his girlfriend Gracy is a law student.

We also met his father and others; we went out with his friends who play in a band and they told us about their work and views on life matters.

As Cubans lack lots of stuff, it's an eye-opening experience to understand what really matters in life. It makes you not take things for granted and appreciate what we have in life.

What was the best moment of the entire trip?

There were lots of them! I think I'll never forget the night when we went to the Buena Vista Social Club concert in Hotel Nacional. I really didn't expect much, but the music and atmosphere turned out to be so great and the show was just amazing.

We also spent evenings in local restaurants listening to the bands and drinking mojitos. Another great moment was our trip to the mountains of Pinar del Rio, where we watched a telenovela in the evening with the locals.

The locals that I met for the first time offered us everything (even beds in their house because of the strong rain outside). I also drank freshly brewed coffee, which they grew and it was just a delight - the best coffee I ever drank.

I also liked poetry reading and art exhibitions on Sundays in Paseo del Prado, one of the main streets in Havana. I can also never forget the way we rode in Cuban public transportation. We rode in completely full buses in Havana and old massive trucks around the country.

Any tips for future participants in general and/or tips specifically for female students?

Bring sun lotion and insect repellent. Also try to bring some things as a donation, such as shampoos, soaps, tissues, child toys, pens, or crafts because they really lack these things. No special tips for female students because it's really safe. Also, try to learn some Spanish words before you come, as not many people speak English.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tim Poullain-Patterson

Job Title
Founder Director
Born and raised in Scotland and worked in Finance in London and Zürich before settling in Ireland and starting a new life in the world of travel. A one-time aspiring jazz trumpet player Cuba is a dream come true. Lives in Ireland with a Cuban wife but relishes trips to Cuba to reconnect with family and spend time with our amazing local team.

Keep fit doing the odd triathlon and marathon...not sure I'm ready for the Habana marathon yet but might give it a go one of these days ;)
Tim Poullain-Patterson

What is your favorite travel memory?

I had to spend 36 hours in Tokyo many years ago. I had a busy schedule and am pretty sure I didn't sleep. It was so exciting EVERYTHING was so different. Found myself in a gangsta rap club that was a bit surreal but it was the sophistication of the food that left the greatest impression.

Such an entirely different culture that has developed over centuries in parallel with our own.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Cuba has definitely changed me. I know the 'system' is not perfect but I find it reassuring that society is still trying to arrange things so that everyone has the same start in life - a good basic education - and access to healthcare. Perhaps it's not sustainable...but it makes you think that there must be a better way than our own 'rat race' and unthinking consumerism (also not sustainable!).

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We have a least two former students who have made their lives in Cuba. That's a lot harder than it sounds! I have total respect for people who follow their dreams and despite all the odds, hardships...they make a go of it and are ultimately happier and more fulfilled than if they had just done what others told them to do. Respect!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I'd do the 4-week Learn Spanish, Culture & Adventure program BUT I'd be a bit sneaky and ask if for the first two weeks I could do the Learn Spanish & Volunteer program (its the same price and no problem doing this ;)

Two weeks in Habana doing a whole bunch of exciting stuff including meeting locals in their own barrio, volunteering...then Viñales for a change of scene/pace...then a final week in Habana. Awesome!!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are extremely fortunate to have an AMAZING local team. They are fun and intelligent and get a huge buzz from our clients. We're in the business of delivering uplifting, fun experiences for people so you'd like to think that we'd be happy at our work...but it still requires commitment...turning up, being patient, treating everyone with respect and having respect for yourself!

Cuba is a difficult country with many random things going on, but our team is proud to show everyone the best side of this amazing country and that's infectious.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

People...and some luck.

I know some will say that you make your own luck - sure, if you don't show up, then nothing will happen. But I know from our own experience that external factors can be difficult to respond to. For example, I wish the improving relations between Cuba and the USA that Obama started in 2016 did not go back as they recently have done. Hey - consistency... doing a great job, day after day after day... that's another factor!

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