Meet the team…
Director Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.
What inspires you to travel? The sense of adventure and not knowing quite what I will encounter – I love being away from home as it feels like a voyage of discovery every single time, whether going overseas or just up the coast from Edinburgh Favourite country visited so far? There are 3 I have particularly loved on my travels over the years – Cuba, Austria and Brazil. Cuba for its vibrancy and spontaneity, the incredible music and dance everywhere you go and the truly wonderful people I have met there: Austria because the Tirol has a very special place in my heart after I lived and worked in the beautiful mountains above Innsbruck when I was in my twenties; Brazil because of the colour and life and music and some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I love Scotland too! Most memorable moment whilst travelling? There are many – eating sweet, juicy oranges straight off the tree after a long, hot hike in Cuba; an open air flamenco performance in Seville in a historic square with local children all dressed in their flamenco costumes; all night dancing in the streets in Santiago de Cuba with Candido Fabre and his band during Carnival A moment of culture shock? Eating sushi in Tokyo, my friend told me that abalone was a particular delicacy so I had some….. to this day I remember that it felt like I was trying to eat someone’s big toe nail….. not an enjoyable experience at all! On holiday I… like to explore new places, speak to local people along the way and go swimming in the sea/pool/lake/river I would love to… learn to scuba dive one day
Mara,our Travel Coordinator, has grown up bouncing between Scotland and Cuba visiting her family in Havana. She has been dancing salsa since she was a little girl and loves to share the excitement and fun it creates with people all over the world. She has a passion for modern languages and is of course proficient in Spanish. Mara is very well travelled around Europe, travelling as far as East Asia and has been on music and dance trips all over Africa.
What inspires you to travel? Language. Growing up in a bilingual household, I have always had exposure to languages other than English, and I find it fascinating to learn about similarities, differences and customs of languages all around the world. Favourite country visited so far? Cuba will always be close to my heart, but apart from that, Italy and Thailand. Studying art when I was younger, Italy seemed like the centre of classic art and fell in love when I first travelled there, as well as the architecture, history and landscapes of the Tuscan countryside. In Thailand, I spent the most serene and peaceful Christmas/New Year I think I will ever have on the beach. It was just post Covid and not many people were travelling, so it felt like we had the island of Koh Phangan completely to ourselves . Also, the food in these two places is some of my very favourite! Most memorable moment whilst travelling? Meeting a monkey and baboon in Senegal when I was 8 years old. As a young girl, this was obviously a triumphant moment, eternalised by a group photo on my mom’s kitchen fridge. A moment of culture shock? While visiting a Buddhist temple in Thailand, my partner and I got tattoos which were then blessed by one of the monks there. This process was different for him and I, where he was brushed with branches and water on his bare back, I was not able to be touched by the monk and also had to cover my bare skin as I was a women. With the mindset we have in western society today, this was a very strange moment, but one that I cherish! On holiday I… couldn’t think of anything better than sipping a fresh coconut whilst relaxing on a tranquil beach in good company and with good music. I would love to…experience more of Latin America and develop a better connection and understanding of my Latin ancestors.
Many of you will know our Santiago de Cuba team already and will appreciate the friendly, professional support and personal attention provided by our local representatives. Odalis Calzadillo, Yaritza Lleyva and Maria Alvarez have all been working with our clients for many years now, and are very definitely part of the Caledonia family!