Heart of Travel would be nothing without the incredible team members and providers who allow us to explore Latin America, make meaningful connections, and walk away with lasting memories. We wanted to start a new series highlighting some of the amazing humans who make up our international teams, and we figured we'd kick things off with the one and only Paloma, who helps run operations in Cuba. Let's get to know her!
Our star Tour Leader in Havana, Paloma de la Caridad Pérez Rodríguez, was born on the eastern side of Cuba in the province of Holguín. A studied musician, she specialized in the clarinet while simultaneously pursuing a degree in film at the Higher Institute of Art. Six years ago she relocated to the capital city of Havana to put her energetic personality, appreciation of the arts, and passion for her country together and become an expert tour guide. Paloma’s infectious energy, extensive knowledge of Cuban history and current events, and her willingness to share her experiences and perspectives with travelers is a trip highlight in and of itself!
1) What is your favorite part about working in tourism? My answer is always the same whenever I'm asked this question: to meet people and hear their stories. Because tourism truly is an exchange.
2) How did you first get involved in tourism in Cuba? A twist of fate. A good friend one day decided to talk about me to a tour guide and he asked for the agency's number. Luckily for me, they were conducting interviews. I had only been living in Havana for a year, but I have always been daring. After a few months of studying and accompanying the best guides I have ever met on tours, here I am.
3) What is your favorite thing about Cuba to show travelers? This question is difficult to answer because my island offers so much. But I really enjoy showcasing the culture of the country and its people. Cubans are "special beings for special reasons" and that can only be seen up close.
4) Where is somewhere on your travel bucket list that you would love to visit one day? Japan!!! Asia in its entirety, and beyond.
5) How has working with Heart of Travel impacted you or your life? I thank A Heart of Travel for the opportunity to make my work visible. For allowing me to do what I love and enjoy it more than ever.
6) What is your favorite cafe in Havana? I love the view from Malecón 663. It's a unique place.
7) What is one funny/interesting historical event that took place in Havana? The Cuban Capitol is partly inspired by the Capitol in Washington, but the one in Cuba is one meter longer. One more wing and one taller. We had to win 😅
8) What is something difficult about working in Cuba? Cuba is a challenge in general (I think that makes us better for those of us who want to undertake or make ourselves valued for what we do). Anything you want to do, any dream, will always be harder to achieve. There is a lack of creative and critical thinking. My phrase to describe it is: Cuba is not a country to understand, it is a country to love.
9) What is one random fact about you? I am quite impulsive. It almost always works for me, but sometimes it works against me.
10) What are you looking forward to with 2024 tours? I would like, first of all, for many people to want to get to know my country. New destinations and the opportunity to show unique experiences. There is so much to discover in Cuba.
Paloma is an integral part of the Heart of Travel team, and is an absolute joy to be around. Her energy is infectious and her love for her country can be felt anytime she speaks. Whether it's a walking tour with Paloma or simply chatting with her on a long car ride to Viñales, you will always learn something! We hope you get the chance to visit Cuba soon and hang out with the rest of the Heart of Travel Cuba team! To see upcoming Cuba trips for 2024, click here.