There were 19 of us, mostly Americans over 50 and six kids ages 7-14, traveling on an 8-day people-to-people tour called "This Cuban Life." We had two tour guides--Diosbel and Lex (Alejandro), and they were fantastic. There was no request too large or question too silly for those two Cubans. We were three nights in Havana, one in Cienfuegos, two in Trinidad, then one more in Havana. Lex took us to an underground disco in a cave outside of Trinidad. and we were merrily dancing the night away when the DJ turned up the lights at about 12:30 am, turned off the music, and said in both Spanish and English: "Our commander in chief (Fidel) has just died. The party is over." On the long, slow walk home (we were all too stunned to look for a taxi), we had an in-depth dialogue with Lex about what this all meant for Cuba and his life. These are experiences you never forget. I should also mention that Diosbel was outstanding--he was mostly with the half of our group who brought children, and they rode in a separate bus and had many separate activities. Dios guided us on our hike to a waterfall outside of Trinidad, and explained the flora and fauna along the way, including which plants his mother had taught him to use for which ailments. Dios is also fantastic with children. You would be hard pressed to find a tour guide elsewhere in the world with an advanced degree in physical education who loves children and has boundless patience, He was more than willing to take them all out for pizza, whining or no, while the adults enjoyed dinner together or went to the Tropicana. Also, one of us fainted from dehydration (through no fault of Cuban Adventures; they always had plenty of water handy to refill our bottles) and Dios left his dinner untouched to be at her side in the ambulance ride to the clinic, throughout the rehydration she got from the excellent Cuban doctor through a drip IV, interpreting for her and her friend seamlessly the to hand her back off to us. These guides go above and beyond expectations to deliver top-notch service in a country that is barely able to handle the megatourism that is descending. Go now; you won't regret it.
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