Hola–we are Mercy and Carlos. We are passionate about Cuba and its people. We were professionals who also worked in the Cuban Travel Sector. We had visited all parts of Cuba while working as travel guides and tour managers. We eventually relocated to the U.S., but in 2016 we returned to our homeland to see our families and observe the remarkable changes that were happening then in modern Cuba.
We now offer Cuba travel programs and consulting services. Each of us can facilitate and lead groups traveling to any part of Cuba. Our focus is to take Americans (and others) on unique, reasonably-priced expeditions where they will experience this safe & beautiful country, meet with locals on a people-to-people basis, and help them understand the complicated situation involving Cuba and the United States Government. Our perspective is middle-of-the-road. We work closely with Cuban agencies and pay particular attention to the confusing, ever-changing regulations regarding Americans visiting Cuba. Our prices are significantly less than for other comparable tours.
Our core program allows visitors to see and experience most sights first-time visitors would expect to see. In addition, we offer a special focus on a variety of subjects, such as arts, music, education, Cuba’s National Health Care System, agriculture & sustainability, SCUBA, colonial architecture, military history, children’s programs for families, and many others. Our tours provide specific itineraries approved under the new 2019 guidelines of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
MERCY PENA MORENO: Hello–I’m now a permanent resident of the U.S., but I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. I graduated from the University of Havana, where I received a degree in Psychology. I worked primarily as a German Translator for various institutions. I later worked as a travel guide and travel agent. I really enjoyed showing my homeland to visitors from all over the world.
I have traveled extensively in Europe. I completed my Master’s Degree in Psychology in Spain, and my Master’s in German Translation & Interpretation in Germany. I have also visited Africa and several countries in Latin America. In spring of 2017 I graduated from Upper Iowa University from a special program in Psychology.
In 2016, my husband Carlos and I returned to Cuba after being away for over 5 years. It was inspiring to see all the positive changes in Cuba. We are currently working with our friend Jim Lewis in the agency known as Cuba Travel Surge, which specializes in consulting and educational services involving travel to Cuba. On September 1, 2019, we will launch our own online travel agency based in Jacksonville, Florida: JAX Cuba Travel.
CARLOS AGUIAR SANTIAGO: Greetings! I was born and grew up in Havana. I’m now a permanent resident of the U.S., and I hope to become a citizen this year. My wife Mercy and I moved to Miami in 2011. We now live in Jacksonville. I have a Bachelor of Science in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Havana.
I worked in Cuba primarily as a university professor of English at the Foreign Language Institute of the University of Havana. I later completed a course for Travel Guides at the School of Hotel and Tourism in Havana. I began working initially as a guide, and later as a travel agent. Overall I had 14 years of experience in the travel industry in Cuba. I worked for numerous Cuban and foreign companies, including Marazul Tours, Global Exchange, The Center for Cuban Studies, The Fund for Reconciliation and Development, Columbia University, Barry University, Drake University, Community College of Baltimore, Suffolk University, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Art Encounter in Chicago.
I have traveled to France, Belgium, Germany, and Holland. I enjoy traveling, sports, and the outdoors. I like meeting people and visiting new places. I am very familiar with Cuba–its natural wonders as well as its culture, traditions, people, and history. In November 2016 I returned to Cuba for the first time in over 5 years. My friend Jim Lewis and I were guides for a 10-day expedition focused on Cuba’s health care system. I enjoyed seeing my family and friends again. The amount of change in Cuba since I left was very evident. It gave me much hope for Cuba’s future. Even though President Trump has commented on updated Cuba travel policies, it is very important to understand that the new guidelines actually do NOT affect group travel. Unfortunately, most Americans do not understand this.