Lying on a large bay, at the foot of the spectacular ‘Sierra Maestra Mountains’, Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city in Cuba and has been an important port for centuries. On one of the promontories, at the entrance to the bay, is a magnificent colonial Spanish castle, perfectly preserved, with incredible views over the bay.
A centre for Afro-Caribbean culture in Cuba, Santiago is known as the home of son, the dance from which salsa is derived and is also very famous for its colourful carnival. There is also a lot of history to be discovered in Santiago de Cuba; from the founding of the city in the 16th Century to Fidel Castro’s speech from the city hall proclaiming victory of the Cuban Revolution.
Lessons take place in Reparto Sueño, an area just a few minutes’ walk from Céspedes Park which is the heart of the city.
Lessons are held in host families, in teachers’ homes or in a nearby cultural centre, students in ‘mini-groups’ of a maximum of 3 and always with a fully-qualified native Cuban teacher.
The ‘Intensive’ course of 20 lessons per week is ideal for those intent on improving their overall level of Spanish. You will take a level test on arrival to make sure that you are placed in a suitable group and the content will focus on the everyday, practical usage of the language (whilst still covering all aspects to ensure that your overall level does improve).
If there are any particular areas of interest or weakness on which you wish to focus, you may like to consider taking a course of private lessons, or adding some private lessons to your group course.
You can even opt to add additional dance or music lessons to your Spanish course. You will have 5 dance or music lessons per week, either in a small group or as private lessons, depending on the number of participating students. These lessons are designed as a complement to the Spanish course and so will also be conducted in Spanish.
In Santiago, students are placed in host families, in a quiet residential area, within easy walking distance of the historic city centre.
Many rooms have air-conditioning and some have private bathrooms. However, the standard of accommodation is still fairly basic. What is fantastic about this type of accommodation is that it provides you with experience of speaking Spanish on an everyday basis with native speakers. You will also be given an insight into the Cuban culture, which is simply not possible when staying in a hotel.
You will meet with the local coordinator and the other students on a regular basis to discuss what you would like to do. The local coordinator will then help you to arrange these prices. Examples of possible activities include trips to the Parque Baconao, the Basilica el Cobre and Gran Piedra, which offers spectacular views across the city. Please note that most activities will incur an additional charge payable directly to the school to cover costs. Please also note that the school does normally require a minimum number of participants in order to run the activities.
Fly into Holguin Airport where there are minibuses to the centre of Santiago, or you can take a taxi. Alternatively, fly into Santiago de Cuba Airport (15 minutes’ drive from the city) where you can take a taxi or we can arrange an airport transfer for an additional charge.
If you do need to fly into Havana, we do recommend that you stay in Havana for one night before travelling onto Santiago, either by plane or by bus (the bus journey takes 15-16 hours).