What I learned from traveling to Cuba was alot more than what I read. As planning to go to Cuba I looked at different sites, I read alot of blogs and watched some vlogs. I took in some of the advice given but in the end, it was useless. My trip took me on a different path which opened my eyes and heart even more. Cuba is beautiful if you are touring to really see the island and not just the tourist beach. The people I met on this trip have been kind, informative, funny and wonderful souls.
I booked my accommodation based on a recommendation from friends that go to Havana a lot. I choose an area where over 98% were Cuban, called Vedado which was a good 10 minutes drive from the tourist hotels. I loved being able to mingle with the locals so it was a great area. The accommodation was affordable and booked through Airbnb- helps the Cuban’s earn a living.
My Spanish is not good but with the few words I knew, I bargained with the taxi’s to get from place to place around the city. The taxies were run down but were enough to take 4 passengers and get rides for 2-10 CUC’s depending on where you want to go.
The food in Havana is not good, as supermarkets are not really what we have in the UK. The people in Cuba still live in ration books and they are only allowed a certain amount of food per month. It was even more heartbreaking to see at 6 am in the morning people line up to get vegetables and medication which come in once a month. This still did not make me want to stay in a hotel, as the hotel didn’t really have better food than what I already had at different restaurants. I did learn how much of a price difference between the Cuban area and tourist area to buy drinks. When it comes to restaurants I stuck to about 3 or 4 that I tried and were happy with.
New Years in Cuba is a little different from in Havana but yet so nice. My mum and I booked to a dinner at the Hotel Nacional which included a party after it. The room was filled with so many smiling faces from Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and more. We all sang and danced around the hall. It was a celebration filled with laughter, joy, and respect for each other.
The salary for Cuban’s is not much especially if you compare it to how some of us live abroad. I manage to talk to some Cuban’s about how much they make in a month and their currencies. I found out the most of the people if lucky £200 a month from their job. They are given their salary in CUP and have to usually buy in CUC which unfortunately ends up less money in their pockets. Whatever tourism that does come to the country is milked through the tourist area of Havana. I did look through the tourist areas and saw the difference in prices from where I was staying and what the tourist was actually being charged. A reminder – the tourist areas are all government-owned places and not privately owned.
This all may sound bad about Cuba, but these are just things I have learnt in just a week and a half I was there. The country has so much good people who work hard and try to live with what they have. They smile and don’t complain because a lot don’t have anything to compare it to. I feel blessed I had the chance to see Havana and more, and dance Cuban casino salsa. It was a dream come true for me.
More on my trip to Cuba—- CLICK HERE