16 Travel Tips for a Gringo Visiting Cuba

Taking a trip to Cuba is a humanitarian and educational experience a mission trip. Probably an uncomfortable expedition, particularly for a Cuban exile like me. I am extremely blessed to have had the ability to travel back to my homeland after several years. The extensive feelings that I felt with my origin, family and identity will be dealt with in another blog site so stay tuned. However, on this 7-day journey, I traveled with my Beau. He is from North Carolina. We flew direct from Miami to Havana, rented a vehicle and visited Havana, Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad and Varadero. Because of his love, empathy, compassion and funny bone, I wanted to share some travel suggestions that just a gringo amigo (as some called him in Cuba) might offer.

1. You do not have to arrive at the airport 4 hours prior to departure as advised. 2 hours are fine. Your seats are pre-assigned without your approval. Anything over 10lbs need to be inspected and the combined maximum weight per person were 50lbs. You can bring more however expect to pay $20 for each additional bag plus $2.00 per the overall amount of pounds.

2. You leave Miami in the oldest part of the terminal and arrive in Havana (45 minutes later) in an even an older terminal without cooling. The wait time for our travel luggage was 2 hours. Be patient one will question if we ought to have been prepped for the journey or if we’ve been penalized for making it.

If you are bringing more than 2 electronic gadgets per individual be all set to fill out papers at the airport. If you have more, you will require returning with those products or be prepared to pay for the cost of the items left.

4. Currency exchange rate ranging from 87 CUC (Cuban currency) to 90 CUC per every dollar. If you exchange $1000 you lose between $100 and $130. Since US debit and charge card do not work budget and plan your expenses sensibly.

The size or amount of toilet paper depends on your pointer. Suggestion size = Number 1 or Number 2.

6. Vehicle leasing was easy (other than for all documentation that is done by hand- including hotel check in) but driving in Cuba and discovering gas was a challenge. Flats and/or damages to the wheels are at your expense. Driving was tough because of the pot holes, horses pulling carts (taxis), motorcycles with side automobiles (taxis), cows, goats and absence of roadway signs. Oh ... and ignore navigation/Google Maps there is no internet. When lost people were friendly and offered instructions, but take a survey because it appears that Cubans would rather send you elsewhere than tell you they do unknown. No road signs but lots of political banners with communist slogans.

7. Good Luck with finding a Coca Cola or ice cream, particularly beyond Havana, however practically everywhere you can buy postcards and posters of Fidel Castro playing baseball or Che Guevara playing golf.

8. A great deal of the ladies wore fishnet stockings! According to Cubans, this garment symbolizes a specific professionalism of work values, not a deliberate sexual provocation. It seems strange to wear in such heat. Leave your long pants and long sleeves in your home but pack lots of shorts, t-shirts and talcum powder. The hot weather might keep you in an irreversible phase of sweating profusely, hence making you constantly sticky.

9. There is Cohiba Profiling. You will be approached by lots of offering stogies. Don’t expect 5 star hotels even if they are promoted as one. And do not be surprised if they are out of hot water.

11. Major tourist attractions such as La Bodeguita del Medio and Floridita are the very best places for Mojitos and Daiquiris in Havana. Both places have live bands with skilled artists who aspire to sell their CD’s. Be ready to sweat (AGAIN) if you eat in La Bodeguita.

12. Constantly have some change in your pocket for suggestions. Incomes are low and in Cuban pesos. You need to tip in CUC. I felt uneasy leaving such percentages. $1 (CUC) idea is a fortune. The typical wage is the equivalent of 10 (CUC) each month. Trinidad and Varadero have been overtaken by the all-inclusiveness resorts. This enabled us to escape the starving crowd of tourists battling for low quality buffets and drinks. They purchase low-cost travel packages in their countries: 10 days in Cuba for $800!

14. Paladares dining establishments (family-run companies) are the best alternative if you are searching for homemade Cuban food. They seem offering the government-run dining establishments some much needed competition.

If you truly desire to understand Cuba, you should explore beyond Havana, vintage cars, hotels and Cuban stogies. People are tired of a political system that plainly shows that does not work, most Cubans will strongly agree. 16. If traveling to Cuba quickly, consider extending an invitation to senator Bernie Sanders to join you and see how Socialism is working. I would love to return however not for the cars or the architecture or the Caribbean waters however for the people. Cuba’s greatest treasures are the people. Even though they have couple of earthly things, you can see them constantly smiling. They have strong big hearts for their households. I have been humbled.

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