Things to Know Before Travelling to Cuba

As you know, I am one of those people that prepares her trips. After that, we can (and in my opinion should) improvise, but I like to have the list of things to do and/or visit. 

This is what I found out about Cuba before going and I’m sharing it in case it helps you. However, this a changing country. Even if you go one time, the next month, could be totally different.

Money

There are two official currencies: CUC (convertible peso, more or less equivalent to 1$) y el CUP (Cuban peso, which varies but is equivalent to 0,26$). There are these “dollar stores” where you can pay in American Dollars. Some places will also value Euros, since there is a tax on the US $. 

I took cash and changed it there. There are ATMs but they charge a high commission and sometimes they don’t even work.

Transportation

Almendrones, guaguas, carros, colectivos, coco-taxi, bici-taxi, private taxi… 

Almendrones are the typical old 50s American cars (starting at 50$/hour). There is public transport but there is very low frequency and they tend to be packed (guagua). “Carros” are usually for longer distances and “for Cubans”. “Colectivos for tourists” are cars that you pay to take you from a specific place to another. “Colectivos” in general is a car that does a specific route and you get in or out depending on your destiny. Coco-taxi are motorbikes with seats behind, bici-taxi the same but with bicycles…

Accommodation

There are all-inclusive hotels (if so, this is not your blog). There are also casas particulares, which are Cuban homes that have been conditioned to accommodate tourists or travellers. They have a licence given by the government. If they don’t have this symbol in the entrance, it is not regulated and might be a scam. 

In general, Cubans offer a “continental breakfast” (fresh fruit juices, yoghurt, toast, jam, egg, pastries… and of course, a Cuban cafecito). You can talk to the locals and ask them to recommend to you the best places for lunch (among other things).

Casa Martín - La Habana

Internet

So there is one WIFI provider, and it’s called ETECSA. They sell you a card for 1 dollar, which allows you to use the WIFI for 1 hour. This card has a user number and a password.

What I did was to download my messages. Disconnect from the WIFI. Reply to the messages. Reconnect to send the messages and continue enjoying Cuba.

Also, this WIFI is only available at certain houses (talk to your host at the casa particular) and certain public parks.

Attitude/Culture

Cuban people are very open and nice with tourists, but we also have to know where they’re coming from. I often found myself reading in between lines to check that there was no misunderstanding (and I speak Spanish!).

Looking back, I wish I would have studied a bit of their history to know the current state of the country. I went to Cuba wanting to learn salsa and about Cuban culture. I did take that, but I think my attitude could have been a bit more open having known the situation prior.

If you’re interested in travelling to Cuba (once COVID is not an issue) and discover the hidden gems, check out Cuba Senses.

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