I got the opportunity to go to Cuba for 4 days with my boyfriend, Pete, and his family. We celebrated his mom’s birthday with an educational tour of Cuba. Happy (belated) birthday, Patti! It was a really good trip despite me getting sick one day. But before I move on I should at least clarify some points:
Yes – I went to Cuba.
No – It was not dangerous.
Yes – doing anything illegally in Cuba would be pretty sketchy!
Also, it’s not a myth that some Cubans don’t believe in toilet paper or toilet seats.
We stayed in Havana, Cuba at a bnb called CasavanaCuba, which I highly recommend! We had a really good experience staying with them and the view was spectacular. Our bedrooms were on the 4th/5th floor of the building but the main floor was the 11th floor, which is where we mainly visited together because the kitchen/bar was on this floor. Havana was really beautiful though. Time literally stopped. The architecture is practically the same as it was in the 50’s because there is little to no maintenance done on the buildings. There are beautiful classic cars EVERYWHERE. It was pretty humid and rained on/off.
Our hosts were awesome, knowledgeable, and helpful! We had a personal tour of Old Havana accompanied by a history lesson (thank you, David!). We even stopped by Hotel Ambos Mundos to see Hemingway’s room. It was a lot of walking and it was pouring rain. I wasn’t prepared for either of them because I was feeling sick this day. My stomach was unsure of the Cuban water but I eventually felt better! I definitely wore the wrong shoes and should’ve brought an umbrella because my cotton black dress was soaked! There are lots of feral dogs just walking the streets and it broke my heart.
We were served breakfast every morning with a view from the 11th floor balcony. The $7 breakfast included coffee, fresh juice, fruits, bread, and eggs. Honestly, that’s a pretty good breakfast for $7. I mentioned it before but the cocktails were 3 freakin’ dollars. So yeah, everything is fairly cheap in Cuba!
Pete and I ventured off on our own and found some cool things on our own. We found some museums, a farmer’s market, and some places to buy food and the super cheap booze/tobacco! A liter of Havana Club rum was $7,90 ($7.90 in US $), what the hell right?! And a pack of smokes were $0,60. Yep, 60 cents!
Our hosts told us that mostly middle class lived in Havana and that the average monthly income is 30 CUC’s… Can you believe that these people live on $30 a month? With limited access to wifi, clean water, among other things.
We had lunch with a Cuban science fiction writer, Yoss, at El Idilio. The restaurant was down the street from the casa we were staying at and was recommended by our hosts. Yoss was pretty cool though! He’s Cuban but listens to heavy metal. He wore combat boots and a t-shirt of his own band and it was awesome! You should have a look at the video I linked that’s about him because he’s pretty interesting.
These last pics are from the top of the double decker Tour Bus. We didn’t do much hopping off but we still got to see lots of Havana through the tour. If you ever go to Havana, I would recommend going on the tour the first day that you get there. It was a lot of fun and it was an easy and cheap way to see pretty much all parts of Havana. For $10 we got to see many parts of Havana and had access to the bus all day long.
Here’s a Cuban sandwich that I had accompanied with some banana chips and pineapple juice. Another misconception about Cuba is that the food isn’t great. I had pretty good luck with everything that I ordered. One thing that I did notice was that there was NEVER any pepper at any restaurants we ate at! There was only salt.
Overall, I had a really great experience despite coming to Cuba with very little Spanish. Everyone was so friendly and inviting! If you have any questions or want to know more, let me know! I’ve got another blog post coming soon – until next time! xx