A fun twist on the old Country mouse City Mouse story – perfect read for the holidays!
Power up! Bring extra plugs and cables! Rooms may be nice, but many have only a plug or two that functions properly. Bring USB plugs and multi-prong plugs for all your devices. Cables might be difficult to replace or find in Cuba so if the gadget is essential, bring a backup. Cuba uses the same wall plugs as the U.S. so that’s a relief, no adapters needed for U.S. travelers. The Electric power shut off a few times (for several hours) when I was there, so bring a flashlight or have a candle and matches you can locate in your room.
You can see the whole article published in Journeywoman here: http://journeywoman.com/gfc/practical-tips-to-prepare-for-your-solo-trip-to-cuba.html
Support the people! Stay at Casas Particulares, not at government owned & controlled hotels. The hotels are expensive anyway and to get a real people-to-people experience, you need to stay with Cubans! Practice and use your Spanish and get to know the neighborhood and locals.
Jakera Cuba organized my Casas for me; I paid a weekly fee prior to leaving the U.S. via PayPal, so it was great. If you want a private room (recommended) make sure you are very clear about that before leaving. Once you’re in Cuba, it may be difficult to organize changes and you may end up with roommates!
Casas will generally provide a nice breakfast (fruit, bread, eggs, coffee) and will often let you eat with the family for other meals for an extra charge. (Eating out is expensive in Cuba!)Caution: Bear in mind, that if you are running late you should CONFIRM with your casa that you are coming. I saw a trio of visitors turned away (their rooms rented to a more timely trio) and there were NO rooms left in Trinidad that night. Fortunately for them, I had a big room and they crashed with me for a night until they could get another room.
December 11, 2016 3 p.m. San Diego County Library
Bonita Branch Branch at 4375 Bonita Road, San Diego, CA
San Diegan Donna Starr traveled to Cuba on a people-to-people mission in the spring of 2016; she will share her experiences in Cuba, accompanied by a rich photo slideshow and up-to-date travel tips.
If there is a trip to Cuba on your bucket list, don’t miss this!
Her book, Cuba for Mama: A Daughter’s Journey 2016 will be available for purchase following the program; containing 22 short stories and rich photos, essential travel tips. It is also available on Amazon, at San Diego’s Traveler’s Depot (1655 Garnet Ave.) and at her website: www.pen2paint.com
Tip #3 – The Internet? Meh…
Internet – not available widely in Cuba, sorry. Only posh hotels downtown had it available and you can find sites by looking for folks crouched around a building’s perimeter on the street with their cell phones, laptops, etc. In order to use the internet anywhere – you need a scratch off coded internet card from Etesca. Etesca has an office on the main drag (Obispo street) in old town Havana (la habana vieja). You queue in the line (often long) and wait, much like the DMV office in the U.S.A. Slowly, you are ushered in the building to wait a bit longer on a bench, the ‘tellers’ finally calling you up. You can buy one hour cards to use, your passport is essential, they won’t give you cards without it – it’s $2 CUC an hour (about $2 U.S.) Buy as many cards as you think you’ll want – the lines are long. And yes, Big Brother is watching – remember your passport number is attached to the code you input for internet usage. I was told that Cubans can only get 2 hours at a time, then…back in line.
Bonus Tip: Other Internet options – posh hotels offering internet will sell you cards but it’s $3-5 CUC an hour (but no line)! Sometimes just to get off the street and onto comfy upholstered seating in a quiet setting, I’d go into the nice hotels and sit in their lounge to soak up the A/C and quiet atmosphere while using my internet time. Order a beer and relax and recharge.
Cell phones in Cuba – give your cell phone a much-needed rest, too. U.S. cell phones don’t have service in Cuba (right now) anyway. Bringing it to get on the internet occasionally will keep you in touch if needed, but take a break from technology and enjoy yourself. It was refreshing walking the streets and not seeing everyone immersed in their phone. The internet is not widely available and not cheap, either. Use your phone as a camera or alarm clock. I brought a small digital camera, my ipad with a SD memory card reader attachment and uploaded my photos as I went to my ipad. I limited myself to 2-3 hrs. a week of internet time, it was a welcome vacation from technology! More on the Internet in Cuba in Tip #3.
Wow, I wish I’d read this before going to Cuba! The Bacardi family and Cuba go way back, to the mid-1800s. This fascinating book brings you along on a historic ride through Cuban history, through the lives of the Bacardi family and their famous rum-distilling business, Bacardi Rum. Through a chronology of historic revolutions, upheavals and governments, five generations of the family remained fiercely loyal Cubans. Their family business finally was seized by Castro in 1960 – when there was no longer any room for private enterprise or wealth in Cuba. Smart business decisions prior to this saved the company and its trademark, the family is scattered but the business of Bacardi rum survived and thrived. This is a wonderful and quite readable narrative of the historic events that shaped Cuba’s past and present. Highly recommended reading!
Buy the book here: Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba
Tupoc on the wall in Cuba and other beautiful images, beautifully painted on a rather drab crumbling walls in la Habana Vieja (old town Havana). I didn’t see graffiti in Cuba (no spray paint?) but I did marvel at many expertly painted wall murals that were adorning streetside walls and near doorways. Occasionally political, often quite beautiful, sometimes even tragic – but always profoundly contrasting with the gray stone walls; they stood out like butterflies on often depressing disintegrating buildings. I would have dearly loved to have met the artists who crafted such delightful surprises, but I didn’t see any works in progress, unfortunately. The creative arts will always find a way to express themselves!