Whether clients of Let’s Do Cuba have traveled to Cuba several times or are going for the first time, owner Lily Pousa said her agency provides them with a chance to see the real Cuba.
Pousa started the Southlake company, originally called Horizonte Caribe, about four years ago. Pousa grew up in Cuba and said her love for her first home drives her to help others have an authentic trip.
“I always try to enhance the interaction with the Cuban people,” Pousa said. “Instead of just driving you around the places [and sightseeing], I make sure you go into the Cuban market—that you see how we do our currency, how we yell, how we fight for a spot in the line. You know, those are the things we try to do [for travelers].”
Pousa plans trips for individuals and small groups of people to tour the country that was closed to American tourists for several decades.
Pousa works with a team in Cuba that has been handling tourism for 30 years. With their help, she plans individualized trips for each of her clients. She does not have a base package that she starts with for each itinerary. Instead, she starts, she said, from scratch. Pousa encourages her clients to do some research before they start planning the trip in detail.
“I always tell them, ‘Do homework. Go to Google, and see what you would like to do,’” she said. “Because Cuba has so much to offer that it would be impossible for me to list all of the possibilities.”
Some of the most popular points of interest are cigar production, the island’s antique cars and music, Pousa said. She said she also enjoys sending her clients to see the cultural events and museums.
“Cuba is much more than the revolution [and]the politics,” Pousa said. “It’s much more than that. So I always try to focus my trips to [the cultural]side.”
In addition to working with her team in Cuba, Pousa also makes at least one trip a year to the island to check on the places she recommends.
“I always go around the tourism fair because I really need to be in touch [with what’s happening], and I like to inspect the hotels that I recommend and the places. Because something might have been really good last year but not this year.”
As a third-world country, Pousa said, there is a lack of the kinds of accommodations Americans are likely used to staying in. She said she often suggests travelers use casas particulares, which she said are similar to European hostels, where the Cuban people host tourists. Pousa said where the country may lack in accommodations it makes up for it through its warmth and personality.
“If I had to describe my people in one sentence it would be, ‘They just want to live and live happy,’” Pousa said.
Let’s Do Cuba
Basic trip information
Time range: most trips last 7-20 days
Cost: $3,000 and up per person
About safety: With low crime rates and a vigilant police force, Pousa said, Cuba is a fairly safe destination. Although she still advises being careful about the kinds of things clients wear, such as jewelry, she said there should not be anything that causes harm to any of the travelers.
Types of activities: In addition to visiting Cuban markets, Pousa sets up cooking classes in Cuban homes for her clients. She also invites her clients to attend neighborhood parties if she knows they are happening. All of the activities she sets up are based on interviews she does with her clients to make the right plans for them.