antigua-105.jpgJust a final thought on why Cuba is so messed up & then I shall leave that subject to the “experts” on TA. A very nice couple from Quebec staying at my casa in Habana who had been coming to Cuba for years mentioned they had noticed the only well run & maintained hotels etc in Cuba were those that were in a joint venture with another country while those soley Cuban operated were substandard. On looking around on my travels about the island this proved to be true.
I also noticed than none of the casa owners where I stayed had no more than an extremely limited use of the English language. Now I realise that Cuba is a Spanish speaking country but as other than their neighbouring Latin American countries most visitors speak English as either a first or second language so it would be good business sense to have at least a working knowledge of the language. After all the jinteraro/s seem to realise this fact as they all are proficient in English & many in 3 or 4 other languages. This leads me to think the casa owners just don’t care & from my experience all the care about is the CUC in your pocket & I have yet to see the “great” casa moms I heard so much about!
Note book computers
When deciding what to take on my trip I chose not to bring a laptop due to size & security plus there are internet cafes in most places. Well in my travels I noticed a few people carrying not books & with WIFI being available most every where, Antigua even has WIFI zones in Parque Central, I couldn’t resist any longer & bought an “aecr” brand on Thursday, it is small, light & inconspicuous in a back pack, money well spent. My Spanish teacher has even put some lessons in it for home study.
Spanish schools is a subject where there is no one answer but as many as there people & the great thing is there is a program out there for everyone. Now you will hear ” I am too old to learn” this is a cop out by people that are lazy & have been out of school so long they have forgotten how to study (or never learned how), same as the sob story “I would like to quit smoking but can’t”. BS if you make up your mind to do it you will, 10 days short of 6 months without a smoke LOL, now the Spanish is a work in progress but I have faith that by the time I return to Canada simple conversations will be possible.
Personally I had 2 weeks in Antigua with home stay, another 3 in Habana & now another week back in Antigua. I won’t offer advise as every one has a different agenda but can list some options. The school I am in now, Guate Linda in Antigua, offers a beginners course of 8 weeks which seems about right. You have the option of home stay, living at the school or else where.
The best option would be to take 8 weeks straight with home stay & probably not in Antigua, where there is too much opportunity to speak English but one of the small towns with schools. However that is not an option for most.
I would say Guatemala is the cheapest country for lessons with the Antigua area offering the best selection of schools with the most options. However there are schools in all Central & South American countries so a couple weeks in each of 4 countries might be a nice option.
As to lessons in Cuba, a week just to get a feel for the difference won’t hurt but they don’t speak the language either the way the rest of Central America does or the way it is spoken in Spain so there isn’t much point in going to the expense of spending much time there, my opinion from personal experience.
Of course the way things worked out I am living on 9a Calle Poiente & 5a Avienda Sur while the school Guate Linda is at the other end of town North of 1a Calle Oriente & 7a Avienda Norte but this gives me an opportunity to explore the town by taking a different route every day. Also the really cool thing is that my teacher Juan Carlos is an ex-Guatemalean guerrilla from the civil war who was trained in Cuba!
However you decide to learn it, it’s a great second language to know!