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Episode 10: 5 Must-See Attractions to Experience the Real Cuba (Interview with Devyn and Tracey Benson from Conocer Cuba Travel)

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    Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

    Episode 10

    5 Must-See Attractions to Experience the Real Cuba: Interview with Devyn and Tracey Benson from Conocer Cuba Travel

    If Cuba is on your travel bucket list, this episode is for you. In our conversation with Devyn and Tracey Benson from Conocer Cuba Travel, we talk about some must-see Cuban attractions to experience the real Cuba.  Find out the right way to travel to Cuba if you’re a US citizen, where to get the best Cuban cigars, and the #1 beach you have to visit that most tourists don’t know about.


    Time Speaker Transcript
    00:34 Host Hola mi gente, bienvenidos. Welcome to episode 10 of the Learn Spanish Con Salsa podcast. In this episode we’re going to chat with Tracey and Devyn Benson from Cuba. They promote cooperative, low impact, sustainable travel to Cuba by developing travel experiences in collaboration with Cuban citizens. They’re going to share with us what you can expect when visiting Cuba, especially if you’re traveling from the US and are a little uncertain about the travel requirements. Now they’re also going to tell us about some must see Cuban attractions to experience the real Cuba, so make sure you stay tuned so you can add these to your travel bucket list. And with that, vamos a empezar, let’s get started.
    01:16 Host Hola Tracey and Devyn, bienvenidos. Thank you for joining me on the Learn Spanish Con Salsa podcast.
    01:21 Devyn We’re really excited to be here. Thank you so much for inviting us.
    01:24 Tracey Yeah, thank you for having us.
    01:25 Host Can you start off by just telling us a little bit about Conocer Cuba and what made you get started with the company?
    01:31 Tracey Devyn has been running trips for student groups for over 10 years, you know, prior to 2016 when Conocer Cuba started. And so she’d run trips for several groups at UNC, UNC Chapel Hill at Harvard, at Williams College at Louisiana State University. So she’d been taking students to Havana, to Cuba, for well over 10 years. And so we decided that it would be beneficial for us to start our own business to take more people who are interested and not just students. And so in March of 2016 we got started with our business and since then, we’ve been taking travel groups of anywhere between 10 and 15 travelers in the winter for new years and also a trip in the summer and the trips range anywhere from four days to seven days all the way up to 10 days.
    02:15 Devyn And one of the things that happened was we had a lot of friends and family members who said we would love to travel to Cuba, but we don’t know anything about Cuba. It seems sort of scary, but we would love to go, but we would only go with you. And so student people would always say, well, when are you taking another group? But my groups were always only open to students. So being able to say now we can offer groups to professionals, to adults, to just anybody of all ages became something that was really important to Conocer Cuba.
    02:39 Tracey What’s unique about our model is that we promote cooperative, low impact, sustainable travel to Cuba by developing these experiences along with the Cuban people. And so we don’t work through any sort of large tour groups or tour agencies. We are our own standalone agency in which you work with individuals who have individuals who have homes on the island and we have a local guide that we hire individually. And so more of the revenue goes to the people. We work with community groups on the island to offer really a personalized experience for our travelers.
    03:09 Host Very cool. And you mentioned something I want to touch on a little bit because I know when I went to Cuba and I had the pleasure of attending a trip with you all in the New Year’s trip in winter and it was a really great experience. I was really impressed by all the things you did to really integrate into the island and the culture and not just sort of visit, just like the regular sort of quote unquote “tourist sites,” but really giving us a unique experience. I really did appreciate that, having that perspective and being able to travel in an authentic way. But I know when I went to Cuba and when people found out I was going, they kept asking me like, are you sure you want to go to Cuba? Like even when I came back to the US they were still asking like are you sure you can get back in the country? And I was like, well I’m here. I mean, I made it back, right? So there is a real concern about the current political climate. So for anyone that may be thinking about traveling to Cuba from the US, is there anything they have to be concerned about or what would you say they have to make sure they have in order before they consider taking a trip?
    04:05 Devyn This is a great question. In some ways, US policy to Cuba has changed a lot over the 60 years of the embargo because what happened is initially we have a travel embargo to Cuba. We have a trade embargo with Cuba, which meant that individuals aren’t allowed to travel and initially they opened it up so that only people who could go under 12 different parts of the license. So you could go if you were a student doing study abroad program, you go. If you were a journalist, you could go if you were a religious organization doing mission work. So there were some things like that. I think what happened with Obama when Obama was the president is that he really sort of took the trade and the travel embargo and he made it a little bit more flexible. He opened it up to say that we really want to promote what he calls people-to-people travel.
    04:46 Devyn This idea that having Cubans and Americans talk to each other would help everybody sort of move forward, and so he really took those ideas and said, okay, if you want to go, you can say that you’re doing people to people travel and you can go. I think what has scared a lot of people about going to Cuba is that since president Trump has become president, that he went back and changed us in some ways. He tried to reverse the Obama opportunities and the openings that Obama had done, which meant that he made it a little bit more difficult. However, it is still not illegal for you to go. The way that the license and OFAC has written it now is that everyone needs to go with a tour organization that will be in charge of your itinerary. Mainly, this is so that one, Americans aren’t spending money in places that are on the prohibited list and those are mostly places of affiliated with the military and so that also that people are not just down there like having a lot of fun.
    05:36 Devyn It’s actually, you know, not having a lot of fun but like sort of just doing your typical sort of tourism. It’s supposed to be a people to people to encourage engagement between the two countries. So we are, well you don’t have to be a licensed to operate or anymore that hasn’t changed, but you have to go with some organization that can be responsible for your itinerary and to make sure that you’re doing being allowed to do. So traveling with Conocer Cuba allows you to do that. Traveling with any other travel agency is at the same time so it is still completely available. You’re not going to get into legal trouble and you want to travel with some type of group that will make sure that you’re staying in the right place and spending your money with US laws and regulations.
    06:13 Host Yeah, and that’s really important. I’m glad you touched on that because it really is important to go with a group or folks that really can tell you how to navigate and what to do and what not to do. I know when I went with you all I did. You gave me the itinerary. I had no problems getting through the airport or customs or immigration or anything like that. So that all went well and I have had some friends unfortunately tell me, Oh, you know, just go through Mexico or like try to fly into, come through another country. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend that. Especially now, you know, I would definitely recommend, like you said, to go with a travel company so that you don’t have any issues. So if you’re thinking about trying to like, you know, come through the border in a different way or come to a different country. I would advise against that. And like Devyn said, go with a group that is established and can really help you navigate the country.
    06:59 Host I love to travel and mainly because the experiences that I have when I travel and the people that I get to meet, but I will say that I don’t like going to stay in fancy resorts and having what I call like a sheltered experience where you really don’t get to interact with people that actually live in the country and I know with the people to people license that you talked about you’re sort of forced as a US citizen to have that kind of authentic experience when you go to Cuba. Now I like to go to some of the places that the locals go or get a feel for what life is really like in the country when I travel. So can you share with us some of the places in Cuba that you would definitely recommend that people go and kind of why you would recommend those places to visit?
    07:37 Tracey Pretty typical itinerary, when we have first time travelers who go to Havana, we think is very important to understand the context of Havana. The way in which we…our imagination has taught us to think about Cuban in so many ways, being raised here in the US is often not in line with the Cuba is. We see it through a lens in which we’ve learned things that might not be the most in line with the way that Cuba is now. So we have several spots that we take individuals to during our trip. We explain the history of the political system that the economy and about how things work so that individual who’s traveled there, they can get a sense of how can we understand what they see and why they see it, and so one of the first places that we often take our travelers on either the first or second day and being on the island is to visit the Plaza de Revolución.
    08:20 Devyn Going to the Plaza de Revolución. We take people there because we see it as the center of Cuban politics. Right? Right there when you’re on the plaza, you can see the Ministry of Interior. You can see the Ministry of Agriculture. You can see the Ministry of Communication, but our local guide also uses that as a moment to talk to our visitors about what does it mean, what role do mass mobilizations play in Cuban history and even in the contemporary moment, because this huge square is also the same space that Cubans come for every May Day. Right? So for every workers May 1st, every time that there is a break, all Cubans from across Havana are marching through. It’s the same place that the pope, when both the popes that have visited Cuba came and held mass, they held mass in the Plaza de Revolución. So he’s able to talk about that religious opening that happens in Cuba and what does it mean for thousands upon thousands of Cubans to come and hold mass with the Pope at Plaza de Revolución.
    09:10 Devyn It’s the space where Fidel Castro gave some of his most iconic speeches and he’d be up there for five to six hours talking about the different ways that Cuba was gonna stand up against imperialism and really be a force to be reckoned with. So I think even though I think most people like to go to the Plaza de Revolución, we want people to go and understand its meaning for both Cuban history and Cuba and the contemporary moment, like what does it mean to mobilize people to fight for their sovereignty.
    09:36 Tracey Right, and we also continue on that same day to visit the Old Havana, Havana Vieja. And that is a restored area of Havana where travelers can see what used to be sort of the center though at the beginnings of Cuba as as a populated area. And so there’s a lot of old colonial buildings, historic sites and places that represent, you know, the history of Cuba. And so we’d like to take people from the Plaza de Revolución to Old Havana so they can experience and see and understand the history and context of Cuba.
    10:04 Tracey Another place that we often take individuals to visit is a cultural spot called the Museo de Bellas Artes.
    10:11 Devyn And this is one of my favorite places in all of Havana. Like I sort of make it sort of either it’s on the itinerary. It’s one of the places when I say if you have free time, you have to go to the Museo de Bellas Artes. Mainly because first of all there are two sides. There is sort of the world global side of the museum, but there’s also the Cuban art side and so I think the Cuban art side is really important because it allows you to sort of see an evolution of Cuban art. And given that we’ve already had conversations about human history and Cuban politics, you can see how artists have visualize and imagine how they would represent that throughout the colonial period all the way to the present. And some of the pieces that come out of the nineteen sixties and seventies and the early revolutionary art are just incredible, because you can see how they inspire. They also have a number of Wilfredo Lam, he says, and Wilfredo Lam is an Afro Cuban Chinese Cuban. And so his work is very much inspired by Picasso and just looks incredible. And to see those up close and personal and the see like real pieces from him is also another sort of really one of the joys of that museum.
    11:14 Tracey So if you’re going for a four-day trip, those are three great places that you need to go spend your time. You can arrive on one day. Spend the next two days doing the tour of Havana. I think Havana is enough for a short 4-day trip. Now if travelers are there for longer, and this also goes along with our 7-day trip, we try to take. We do take our travelers outside of Havana so they can see rural Cuba. And one of the places that we take all of our travelers on the longer trips is Las Terrazas and Viñales. And we do this because this is rural Cuba, you know, it’s a different life outside of Havana. It’s less populated and there you see more of the countryside. And there’s also a great place called Las Terrazas that is a UNESCO eco-tourism spot.
    11:51 Devyn Well it’s an eco-tourism area. RIght, so It’s a place that in many ways been developed that you can see what does environmentally friendly tourism look like. What does it look like to see an area that was actually very much sort of unpopulated deforested before the 1959 revolution and to see how the state really worked to replant trees, to bring people in to live in this village, to build some of the first schools and hospitals in this area and that that became a success of a revolution in some ways. And then what they did was they shifted that in the nineties become ecotourism to show people what environmental tourism might look like.
    12:24 Tracey And part of this, the same sort of trip, we take individuals to a tobacco farm. So we know the Cuban cigars is what people talk about, like the old car, the cigars, and so we want our travelers to understand that the role that, you know, tobacco farmers play in the larger sort of economy. So how does the local tobacco farmers contribute to the economy. The place tobacco has had in the history and the historical economy and also contemporarily how tobacco farmers live. You know, how tobacco is grown. We visit a drying house. You see someone roll cigars, and so travelers get to know not just for the lure of the Cuban cigar by how they’re actually produced and made, and what role it plays in the Cuban economy.
    13:01 Host And I know everyone’s probably wondering, so can US citizens bring back some cigars now, some Cuban cigars? Or is that prohibited?
    13:09 Devyn Yes. You can now bring back both Cuban cigars and Cuban rum from Cuba.
    13:13 Host Oh, okay. All right. Very good. So anyone who’s wondering, can they get some Cuban cigars? Yes, but I think there are some limits on that. You can’t bring back 100 cases and start selling them.
    13:25 Devyn Not a whole suitcase full. I think my memory serves is that I think it’s a $100 total or usually most people can bring back one box of cigars and then you can also bring back some of the artisenal cigars that you might get from, say a tobacco farm or from buying directly from a farmer.
    13:41 Tracey Definitely take advantage of that if you go. Okay, so you’ve told us about Plaza de Revolución in Havana, visiting Havana Vieja, the Museo de Bellas Artes, and ecotourism in Viñales and in Las Terrazas. So what’s the last place that you would recommend if you have a little bit more than four days to spend in Cuba? Give us a one more, or just a couple more places that you have to visit when you go.
    14:06 Devyn One is you definitely need to go to the beach, right? The beaches in the Caribbean or some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world. I’m from North Carolina. I grew up going to the beach on the Atlantic. It is nothing like that to go to the Caribbean Sea, so you definitely will, but most people think that they have to go to Veradero, or one of the more sort of famous beach tourist sites. We actually like to, or sort of all inclusive sites. We actually usually encourage people to go to Santa Maria Beach, which is a part of plays del este, beaches to the east, because that is a space where you can see more local tourism. Like if you go out to playas del este on a weekend, you’re going to see just as many Cubans as you’re going to see foreigners. And everyone, like there’s music playing and like there’s vendors coming around selling street food and you know, rum and coconuts and like it’s just everybody’s having a really, really good time.
    14:52 Devyn So I both like it for getting to see the beautiful Caribbean waters, but I also like it for getting to see what does local tourism look like. What do Cubans do on the weekend, especially in the summertime when they literally pack up their whole family and a whole bunch of food and a whole bunch of music and drinks and just have a great time. So that’s on the list, but the other one is actually spending time meeting and talking to Cubans. Right. So that’s not in a particular location, but one of the ways we do that in our itineraries is a meeting with the community group. Proyecto Espiral. Meeting with Proyecto Espiral is just so important because it’s a group that’s a combination of sort of Cuban professionals and students. They do work both in with young people to help them think about what does it mean to create a sustainable environment in Cuba as well as with elderly people.
    15:35 Devyn They’re always raising or collecting donations so that they can help people out in their everyday lives, but what we have, what happens when we have this exchange is it’s a moment really for that people to people engagement is that we bring North American travelers who sit down with Cubans and they talk about all the tough questions like, do you believe in the embargo? Why does the United States call it an embargo and Cubans call it a blockade, a bloqueo. Right? Why is it that. How do you feel about Cuban Americans? What do you think about travel to the United States? Do you want Americans to come to Cuba? They are willing to answer all of the really tough questions that most Americans think that Cubans won’t answer because of censorship. And instead we sit there with just regular everyday people and they talk about their lives and their hopes for the future for themselves, for their country or the relationships that they’re developing with the Americans in our group.
    16:22 Tracey What’s most interesting about Proyecto Espiral is their philosophy. So in comparing it to philosophy of service work here in the states, which we’re all familiar with in terms of what we do for communities. Their, Proyecto Espiral, their philosophy is that by doing the work for communities with communities, it’s for the benefit of the one who’s participating in the service work. Now, this is an idea that, you know, myself, I’ve come to sort of think a lot about in terms of what it means to do service and for Proyecto Espiral it’s more we are a community of individuals and we’re not doing charity work for others, but we’re doing charity work for ourselves. By making others better, we then make ourselves better. And so I think that particular philosophy is very important, especially for foreigners who may not understand the way the service works, not just in Cuba, but among this particular group and how this philosophy is sort of personified through the way in which sees itself as a very unified community in terms of their history and the revolution in the way they still think of themselves as a very strong people. And has this internal sense of national pride regardless of whatever sort of outside media maybe saying about this particular country in what we call a dictatorship, what they see as more of a liberation of an entire people.
    17:34 Host That’s one of the things that really struck me about visiting Cuba, I had some really interesting conversations. I definitely encourage anyone who’s thinking about visiting to go and have your own experience, get to talk to the people and form your own opinion. I had my own perception before I visited and in the US, we really don’t have a lot of information and not a lot of good information. So it can be sometimes difficult to get past that, you know, stereotype of, you know, we just think about Castro, we think about looking at the old vintage cars, but Cuba is so much more than that. And I did find that people are just proud to be Cuban. And it was something that was infectious, like the spirit of just being proud to be Cuban.
    18:11 Tracey Now, switching topics just a little bit, I want to talk a little bit about the language. So another thing I’ve heard from some people in the Spanish Con Salsa community that they’re learning Spanish and they may have visited Cuba before for vacation or holiday as they call it across the pond, but they get really excited about being able to practice their Spanish during the trip. But they’re surprised when they try to talk to people and sometimes they have a hard time filing what’s been said. So Devyn, I want to ask you, what do you think it is about Cuban Spanish that makes it hard for some Spanish learners to understand?
    18:44 Devyn That is definitely something that I’ve experienced. I’ve been traveling to Cuba since 2003 and the first time that I went I also had a hard time understanding Cubans. I don’t think it’s just Cuba, I do think that across the Caribbean, Spanish is spoken somewhat differently in the ways that most people in United States learn it. So in the United States we often learn sort of Spanish either from textbooks that are sort of emphasizing Spanish from Spain, right. Using those particular grammar configurations like vos right? Like I have never used vosotros or vos or anything like that in Cuba ever, but that was certainly something that I was taught when I was learning to speak Spanish. The other thing is Spanish in Cuba is very rapid. It’s fast. A lot of times there are consonants that are dropped and there’s a lot of slang that’s internal to the island. So I think that is something that’s typical lots of places, but if you grew up either taking classes or learning Spanish that is generated from in Spain or in Mexico, that’s going to be a whole different set of rules, regulations, slang, sort of everyday colloquialisms than you might find in Cuba and even in the rest of the Caribbean.
    19:46 Tracey And I’d like to add that, being a non-Spanish speaker. The first time that I went to Cuba in 2003, I mean it was one I spoke a bit of French, but I didn’t speak very much Spanish so it was hard for me to pick it up. But after going over the course of years, I’ve found that my Spanish has improved to the point where it’s not so much. I’ve never taken a formal class in terms of the United States but by going so much, I’ve learned to to become accustomed to the dialect spoken on the island. Insomuch so that when we go to Mexico, I find that my comprehension is amazing because I started learning Cuban Spanish and when I get to other slower dialects where they pronounce and annunciate a little bit more than in Cuban Spanish. I find that my comprehension is far, far better than I thought it had been, just by interacting with those who speak more of the dialect spoken in Cuba.
    20:33 Host Yeah, and I always tell people if you can understand the Spanish speaker from either Cuba or Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, then you can probably understand a Spanish speaker from anywhere because like you said, Devyn, the Caribbean Spanish is a little bit different. They do to speak fast and cut off some letters of words. So I always tell people that. So Tracey, you’ve proven my point. So Devyn is a little bit about your experience learning Spanish because you mentioned sort of learning in the US and I had a similar experience as you sort of learning from textbooks and then being shocked when I actually started traveling and talking to people and realizing, you know, no one’s saying, “Hola ¿Cómo está Usted?” That doesn’t happen. So can you talk a little bit about how you learned Spanish and what sparked your interest in the language in the first place?
    21:15 Devyn This is a great question. I um, I started learning Spanish in the seventh grade. I was part of the International Baccalaureate Program, so I did pre-IB through middle school and then through high school and you had to take a language every year that was a part of the sort of global or international perspective that, that program allowed you to have. And then when I went to college, I also, um, I was looking around for majors for quite a while and that is a whole ‘nother story, but let’s just say that the other majors didn’t work out. There was something about failing statistics that I was required to get into the business school. There were a couple other majors that didn’t work out and so I ended up majoring in Spanish as well in Undergrad. And so I was a Spanish international studies double major, so I learned Spanish mostly through books, through classes, through, you know, that was back. We still had cassette tapes and language labs. I’m not even sure if they have language labs anymore.
    22:03 Host Wow, you’re dating yourself Devyn.
    22:06 Devyn Then I listened to the cassette tapes. So I did all of that, but I didn’t actually study or travel abroad to speak Spanish until I went to Guatemala for the first time as a sophomore in college. And then again the summer before my senior year and both times I was. That was the first time that I’d done immersion. So homestay living with a family in Antigua and Celas in Guatemala.
    22:27 Host And what would you say through all your experience was the most effective language learning strategy? So if you can give us a specific example of something that you did and what kind of improvement you noticed in your Spanish?
    22:37 Devyn It was 100 percent it was the immersion. It had to like. So, and I think some people may be really good at learning out of books. I don’t think that was my strength, so I didn’t feel like I actually mastered conversational Spanish until I was actually in the country. I could read in Spanish, I could write in Spanish, but I don’t think I had he confidence really to speak in Spanish until I got the Guatemala. And then I’m in a homestay all by myself. My family doesn’t speak English, I have to speak Spanish with them and that is one of the things that sort of forced me to come out of my shell and start trying things out. And then later the same thing happened in Cuba. I mean because I do research in Cuba as well. My first book is about Cuba. I did oral histories and when you’re sitting down doing oral histories, remember if you’re going to do oral histories.
    23:21 Devyn I studied the 1960’s I’m talking mostly to senior citizens. I’m talking to people “del tercer edad” as they like to say in Cuba, right? The third age. So I’m talking to old people who have a different pronunciation, maybe have dentures. So on and so forth, you know, how it is talking to your grandparents and like that was something where I really had to sit there and I learned how to listen. And I learned how to speak clearly and it just became a part of the process really talking to people. I would say if you’re trying to learn a language, you have to go out and talk to people and stumble through the things that you want to say and figure out what other people are saying.
    23:56 Host Yeah. I think you also touched on sort of creating a need, right? So when you were at your home stay, you really didn’t have a choice but to speak Spanish and you, also, doing your research you had to sort of connect with these folks and talk to them. So I think also what I noticed in a common thread in what you talked about is just creating that need for yourself to actually have to use the language.
    24:15 Tracey Yeah. I think that’s very important for the reluctant Spanish speaker. And so I would consider myself still be the reluctant Spanish speaker. And traveling with someone who speaks Spanish, I think that often rely on Devyn has a crunch/ Opposed to when she’s busy and I have to actually go shop, or go to a restaurant, or go and ask for directions. And so I think for the Spanish speakers who don’t yet feel very confident in speaking, I think it’s important to make that bold move and spend a half a day just walking around and people are more generous. Not just in Cuba, I mean everywhere. More generous in terms of your limited Spanish. Then even in my mind, my mental block of, you know, people aren’t going to understand me. I get more afraid about speaking and then when I actually do speak and I get a word wrong, they don’t necessarily jump out and correct me. And so I think for the Spanish speakers who are still more reluctant to speak, myself included, I find that spending the day by myself and going out and doing things has helped my Spanish far more than relying on a Spanish speaker who speaks better than me as a crutch.
    25:09 Host Can you tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments when learning Spanish? Whether it’s something funny that you said or something you misunderstood? Because I think that making mistakes is really important in language learning as well. I mean you can’t be afraid to make mistakes because if you don’t get out there and practice and try, you’re never going to get better. So I always like to ask folks to share with us one of their embarrassing moments or a funny story just to kind of let everyone know that it happens to everyone learning Spanish. It’s something we have to get through, so if you guys wouldn’t mind sharing a story with us.
    25:39 Devyn It happened our very first trip and we were in Yagua which is a really small town in north central Cuba. And we were staying at a friend’s, like my advisor had friends there, so my advisor sent us there and we’re staying at a friend of my advisor’s house. So of course we’re trying to be extra respectful and I’m trying to demonstrate that I know things and I don’t know, I’m just trying to make a good impression. And so one of the things is that our host family says is, she says to us, she’s like, oh, you know, just be careful tonight because they’re ranas. Right? R – A – N – A – S, ranas. And I was like, oh, they’re ranas, OK. And so Tracey’s like, Devyn, what did she say? And I said, don’t worry Tracey. She said that there were rats, and therefore we could sleep with the window open. It’s no big deal because you know, rats aren’t going to come up climbing through the window. We sleep with the window open. And around 2am a frog jumps in, because rana means frog not rat.
    26:43 Tracey And of course we didn’t catch the rana. We had to run out and get our host family. And they said, oh, we told you about that ranas. No, frogs.
    26:52 Devyn (Laughs.)
    26:55 Host And I always do say too, that those embarrassing moments and those mistakes, are there things that you never forget, right? Because like, once you have an experience where there’s a frog jumping on you, you’re not going to forget the word for frog. So thank you guys for sharing that.
    27:10 Host Now it’s time for a quick fire round where I’m going to ask you five questions en español. So, ¿listos? Ready?
    27:17 Devyn Sí. Yes.
    27:18 Host Okay, pregunta número 1 ¿Cuál es tu canción favorita en español? Okay, question number 1, what is your favorite song in Spanish?
    27:21 Devyn Eso no es muy fácil para mí porque de verdad no me gustan mucho las canciones en inglés ni español, yo pienso que yo soy una persona que me gusta más la política, la historia- pero me gustan mucho dos canciones, Bésame… That is not very easy for me because I really don’t like the songs in English or Spanish, I think I’m a person who likes politics, history – but I really like two songs, Bésame…
    27:41 Tracey ¿Bésame mucho?
    27:42 Devyn Like the “kiss me once” song?
    27:44 Tracey Sí. Yes.
    27:45 Devyn “Bésame Mucho” y la canción “Despacito”. “Bésame Mucho” and the song “Despacito”
    27:51 Host Número 2 ¿Cuál es tu palabra favorita en español? Number 2 What is your favorite word in Spanish?
    27:55 Devyn Yo pienso que todo el mundo se usa “dale” en Habana para decir: “Si, vámonos a hacer algo, dale, dale” or “Sí, está bien, dale, dale” I think that everybody uses “dale” in Havana to say: “Yes, let’s go and do something, go, go” or “Yes, it’s fine, go, go”
    28:01 Host Y también en la música porque dicen todo el tiempo “dale, dale” es como: “come on” o “go ahead.” OK, pregunta número 3 ¿Cuál fue la última cosa que leíste, miraste o escuchaste en español? And also in music because they say all the time “dale, dale” is like: “come on” or “go ahead” and- okay, question number 3, what was the last thing you read, looked at or heard in Spanish?
    28:05 Devyn Yo leí una- un libro sobre- no, no es libro, un artículo sobre la feminismo negra en Habana y este- uno de mis amigas, colegas, Daisy Riviera- y es sobre el desarrollo del movimiento feminismo negro en Habana. I read one- a book about- no, it is not a book, an article about black feminism in Havana and this- one of my friends, colleagues, Daisy Riviera- and it is about the development of the black feminism movement in Havana.
    28:17 Host All right, es un tema muy interesante. Y número cuatro: Saca tu teléfono y traduce el último texto que recibiste en- al español. All right, it’s a very interesting topic. And number four: Take out your phone and translate the last text you received in Spanish.
    28:21 Devyn Mi último texto es de una amiga, me mando un texto que dice que ella no puede venir a la casa de nosotros para una fiesta este fin de semana porque ella va a estar en Baltimore para un evento, y yo escribí: “Ah que lastima, vamos a extrañarte, tenemos que encontrar un tiempo para pasar tiempo juntos antes de las vacaciones de navidad”. My last text is from a friend, she sent me a text that says she can´t come to our house for a party this weekend because she’s going to be in Baltimore for an event, and I wrote: “Oh what a pity, we’re going to miss you, we have to find time to spend time together before the Christmas holidays.”
    28:32 Host Ah que bueno, muy bien. Y número 5, ahora una pregunta al azar, okay: Si no tuvieras que dormir ¿Qué harías con el tiempo adicional? Oh good, very well. And number 5, now a random question, okay: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the additional time?
    28:33 Devyn Ah yo sé, yo quiero aprender Hatian Creole. Oh I know, I want to learn Haitian Creole.
    28:35 Host Ah otro idioma, okay. Oh another language, okay.
    28:38 Devyn Y para mi aprender idioma no es fácil, entonces como yo dije antes, desde cuando yo tenía 12 años, yo tuve todo este tiempo para aprender español entonces yo sé que yo necesito mucho tiempo para aprender otro idioma, pero yo tengo ganas, mucho, mucho para aprender Haitian Creole. And for me to learn a language is not easy, so as I said before, since I was 12 years old, I had all this time to learn Spanish so I know that I need a lot of time to learn another language, but I really want to, really, really want to learn Haitian Creole.
    29:24 Host ¿Y por qué ese idioma? And why that language?
    29:28 Devyn Es porque ahora yo tengo un interés a escribir un libro sobre la conciencia negra en el caribe, más grande que Cuba. Entonces antes yo solamente había trabajado en Cuba pero yo quiero aprender Haitian Creole para que yo puede leer y hablar con intelectuales haitianos sobre sus experiencias en Cuba, sobre sus experiencias con la represión, sobre sus experiencias de- con la negritud. It’s because I’m interested in writing a book about black consciousness in the Caribbean, bigger than Cuba. So before I had only worked in Cuba but I want to learn Haitian Creole so that I can read and talk with Haitian intellectuals about their experiences in Cuba, about their experiences with repression, about their experiences with negritude.
    30:02 Host Wow muy interesante, entonces gracias Devyn. Wow very interesting, so thank you Devyn.
    30:05 Tracey Thank you for participating in the quick fire round. Now as we wrap up, do you guys have anything coming up that you want to let everyone know about?
    30:13 Tracey If anyone is interested in learning more about our trips, the details, the itineraries, how much it costs. They can visit us at www.ConocerCubaTravel.com. That’s our website and we’re also available on Facebook and so the best place to find us is on Facebook because we update that page a little bit more often and so we welcome anyone to check us out, send us an email if you’re interested. And also, if you mention that you heard us on this podcast, we can offer you a 10 percent discount to you and whoever you bring along with you as a traveler.
    30:42 Host Thank you. That is very generous and I’m sure everyone will enjoy being able to save a little bit of money and also go to Cuba at the same time. And I will include a link to Conocer Cuba’s website and their Facebook page in the show notes. So if you’re interested, definitely check out the show notes at learnspanishconsalsa.com/10, that’s learnspanishconsalsa.com/10 for episode 10 of the podcast, and you’ll be able to find links to everything we talked about in this episode as well as how to checkout Conocer Cuba’s upcoming summer excursion to Havana. Thank you so much. Devyn and Tracey for taking the time to join us on the Learn Spanish Con Salsa podcast.
    31:23 Devyn Thank you so much for having us. This was a lot of fun.

    dccb Download Episode 10 Transcript

    Links and Resources

    Guest Information

    Devyn and Tracey Benson

    Conocer Cuba Travel


    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/conocercubatravel

    Plaza de la Revolución

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