Special Programs

  • Look here for upcoming Special Events, Special Tours to join, and Special Pricing





  • A great month for gardens, celebrations, and all of our tours

November 2013

  • Bi-annual International Choral Festival. Calling all choristers and music lovers – international choirs invited. Non-competitive festival.

8th Annual Hastings Fibre Festival

As many of you may know, I have strong connections with Canada. My good friend, Dr. Skye Morrison, is something of a fibre guru. She splits her time between Hastings, a small town in rural Ontario and teaching and working with fibre artists in India. This week, she is back in Ontario and running the 8th Annual Hastings Fibre Festival. If any of you are in the area, you might want to check it out.


For the Love of Food

I was going over the menus we have used in the last couple of months, and realized how much we have come to rely on a new Indian Cookbook we were given. Victoria Sidhu – Rani to her friends and readers, has presented more than another cookbook of Indian food. The book includes her romantic story of falling in love and going to India. The food is from the Punjab, redolent with fragrant spices, full of veggies, our clients have loved every mouthful. For those not accustomed to Indian food, Rani has prepared suggested menus, so if you just want something different as a starter, browse the menus and get tempted into several.

Living in Santiago de Cuba, you get used to wonderful fruits and vegetables that encourage you to experiment. Yesterday for the vegan staying with us – crispy fried potatoes (yes there were actual potatoes in the market) and fresh okra crispy fried, and onions the same, then baked to get rid of the oil and tossed in spices – what a feast of tastes!

One of the great benefits of the Special Period, is that it forced Cuba to start along the road to food self-sufficiency. As a result we have organic vegetables as the norm, not an expensive option. And most of our vegetables grow very near the city, with just a few kilometers between the farm gate and the market.

And every year there is more variety, more flavour, better conditions, and longer seasons. One of the difficulties has been seeds. All seeds and plants react to daylight hours, which is why Italian and southern French grapes grow wonderfully in California, or in Niagara, and not at all in more northern climes, no matter the temperature. You can travel your seeds east and west, not north and south! At the start of the Special Period, Cuba was importing its seeds. Beetroot came from Holland and Japan, carrots from Europe. The yields were low and the vegetables strange tasting. Even tropical vegetables had low yields, and without fertilizer and pest control the losses were high.

Continue reading For the Love of Food

Welcome to the Real Cub

Well our latest group of birders have just left, triumphant from a week of birding which netted 65 species and 11 of the Cuban endemics.

So now we dig out the kitchen – the site of many very early breakfast makings, and great dinners. With birders wanting to catch that moment of dawn or even earlier we send a packed breakfast of fruit and omelet and a snack, often made at 3 in the morning.

We are fortunate in the Santiago area to have many separate micro-climates so we offer a truly marvellous array of habitats ranging from cloud forest to almost desert. As 50 kms of the coast and mountains is part of a protected biosphere the mixture of coastal marshes, tiny beaches, pastureland and mountain forest provides increased range for almost everything.

In fall we have ospreys using the heights and thermals to set them right for a long glide to Haiti, and at this time of year the cold in the mountains drives small birds down to the warmer coast – including this time the bee hummingbird casually drinking in a patio, much to the delight of our co-ordinator, who was getting anxious, the ornithologist who wanted perfection, and our birders, who had dreamed of such a happening.

As not all birders want to bird all the time, we include in our week a couple of our wonderful history and cultural tours, and always something about organic food production.

Cuba is changing so quickly; almost every day the newspapers carry news of a factory restarted, fruit or vegetables harvested at rates not seen since the early – 90’s or even the 1980’s – a time preserved in a haze of good food, great ice cream, and working transportation.

Continue reading Welcome to The Real Cuba