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:



Cuba 2016: Travel Talk and Slideshow


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:


25 Best Tips for Cuban Travel Now Tip #3 – The Internet


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.


25 Best Tips for Cuban Travel NOW – Tip #2

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.


25 Best Tips for Cuban Travel NOW – Tip #1

Tip #1

  • Prepare well – Do your research before going! This is critical because the internet in Cuba is slow, expensive and difficult. (More on the internet in upcoming tips)  A good travel guide will show you many of the key sights to see – Lonely Planet has a good one. There are several organizations that offer programs for Cuba including Jakera Cuba, GeoVisions , Road Scholar, SmarTours more. Do you want to just sightsee or get to meet the people? Right now, legally a U.S citizen needs to meet certain criteria to travel. The embargo is still in place, tourists cannot just freely travel to Cuba, STILL. You can get a good map prior to going or the Post Office in Havana has one, also for about $3CUC (about $ U.S.)
  • Look at the Pen2Paint Marketplace for guides, maps and more great info for your trip to Cuba. Also, my book Cuba for Mama has a LARGE chapter of logistics, tips and other current considerations.
Bacardi 80%

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

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!
BacardiBuy the book here: Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba


Wall Art in 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!

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cuba for mama front cover

Cuba for Mama: A Daughter’s Journey 2016

cuba for mama cover

Hot off the press, buy your copy today and one for anyone you know who is interested in Cuba
or is planning a trip there. Twenty two true tales and priceless travel tips and suggestions to make
the most of your time in Cuba. Whether you are going or not, you will feel as if you have indeed
traveled along with me – as I traveled for both myself and my mother this time.


Cars, Beautiful Cars!

CarCutie80I especially loved the two toned models of cars in Cuba – so colorful and fun. Keeping these classics running is an incredible feat, given the restrictions Cubans face. The mechanics have utilized about everything imaginable to keep them on the road. Candy colored paint jobs, gleaming chrome, plush upholstery – these beauties are truly a work of art.

Favorite Quotes on Travel & Adventure

postcard back

“Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”
– L. Hunt

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”  – Marcel Proust

“A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time
are vaguer than yours.”  – John Bryton Priestly

“I think that wherever your journey takes you, there are new gods waiting there, with divine patience – and laughter.” – S. Watkins

“Everyone has two journeys to make through life. There is the outer journey, with its various incidents and milestones; and there is the inner journey, a spiritual odyssey, with a secret history of its own.”
– Dean Wm. R. Inge

“If you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes, in the spirit in which the gods may offer it.”    – Freya Stark

“Then, forehead against the pane, I suddenly feel the longing, open-armed behind the bone – to drown myself in other worlds –
to steal into all lives, all times, all countries not my own.”
– Francis Hope Schlossbesuch

“There is a great moment, when you see, however distant; the goal of your wandering. The thing which has living in your imagination suddenly becomes a part of the tangible world.” ~ Freya Stark

Buy your copy today! Cuba for Mama: A Daughter’s Journey 2016

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