Cuba Travel Stories, Page 2

Si Hay Ron

Yes, there is Rum today, it is Saturday in Habana, Cuba. To understand a culture, a person should not travel, you must stop to live with the people until you know more than you wanted to know.

Bulk Rum is sold, people bring containers, the patron fills them.

Havana Habana Cuba Sunday, December 13, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

There is not a lot you can do with 50 Pesos of Moneda National on a Saturday.

Si Hay Ron

Tourism Saves Cuba

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba suffered and turned to Tourism.

Where to find Cuban girls: 7:00 AM/PM Havana Parque Central

I find it ironic, and with a wink and a nod, I encourage Fidel Castro to embrace tourism. The Cuban tourist industry is the perfect partnership between a socialism and capitalism. First Class treatment is best provided when a nobody makes you a somebody; we accept all major credit cards.

Growth of Cuban Tourism
“Tourism is the only economic sector that has grown significantly in Cuba since the late 1980s. The government depends on the profits of tourism to bring in valuable foreign currency. In 1990 tourists spent $243 million in Cuba; in 2006 that figure had increased to $2.1 billion. The number of people vacationing in Cuba grew from only 3,000 in 1973 to 326,000 in 1989, and to 2.1 million in 2006.”
- Encyclopedia Encarta

Havana Habana Cuba Sunday, December 13, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

Free-market system: an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit.

Political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles.

Classless political system: the political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of that society.

Raul Understand Tourist

Sex Tourism:
The sale of sex was out of control for years in Cuba, to slow this down; Fidel made it a policy that Resorts must bar access to rooms by Cuban women. The first thing Raul, the brother of Fidel Castro did upon taking office was to reverse this policy.

Where are the Casinos? Is this the Godfather Part I, II or III?

A person should never get in bed with the Tourist Industry, your mother would not approve.

Tourism Saves Cuba

Anything is Possible in Havana

Graham Greene the British Novelist wrote this in his book “Our Man in Havana.” (1958) Shortly before the Batista’s regime collapsed, and then on January 1, 1959, the dicator Fulgencio Batista fled the country.

I am lying

Havana Habana Cuba Saturday, December 12, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

Nevertheless, I will agree 100 percent with Graham Greene, anything is possible in Havana, and especially in 1958, which is not today.

I asked the owner of the Vedado apartment, a Doctors wife,
“Where do you use the Internet?”
She says,
“It is too expensive for me.”

I read this quote in the Lonely Planet Guidebook,
“Anything is possible in Havana. wrote the British Novelist Graham Greene of Cuba’s rhapsodic capital, echoing the thoughts and dreams of millions.”
Page 94 Lonely Planet Guidebook, 5th Edition

I thought, this is a good quote, I needed, (wanted) more information.

I lied
I have no idea, when and where Graham Greene wrote this, but what I wrote is plausible. I have to agree with the Doctors Wife. I can do anything, I can read, write, eat, drink, shop and have sex with a gorgeous girl, drink in the finest restaurant on planet earth here in Havana: It is too expensive.

However to reserve the right; I am going to lie about the Graham Green quote…

It cost 10 US Dollars in the Hotel Parque Central per hour to use the Internet.
“It is too expensive.”
What a gamble, I could spend 10 US Dollars and not find the information.

Fidel Castro is truly a genius, he has empowered his people, and he has convinced them they are intelligent. He gives them access to all the information, and wonders of the planet. The people of Cuba are free to do as they wish, nobody appears to watching, and I feel free.

However, I will apologize; I am not going to check the Graham Greene facts. I combined information about Graham Greene, from the Encyclopedia Encarta computers Andy gave me to use, with the information from the Lonely Planet to create the illusion I know what I am talking about.

The fact is this I lie, I am telling you a good story

I will not pay 10 United States Dollars in the hope, maybe with great luck, I discover when and where Graham Green wrote this: I cannot search in Spanish. I wonder what a Cuban person does, a highly educated person is the last to admit he or she is ignorant, it just is not what we do. Instead we weave a story, fabricate, create, and explain in a way that is irrefutable and difficult to say is a lie.

Did I do good? Did I make a good quote? Maybe it is correct; I have no way to know. I will leave this information vacuum in 6 days, I am counting the days. I will return to Haiti where the Internet cost 60 Cents U.S. per hour. I am in a box with no sides, this place reminds me of;
“Waiting for Godot.”

Who wrote “Waiting for Godot?”

How long did it take you to discover the answer? Multiply that times 100, maybe a 1000 and I will say, “Welcome to Cuba.”
Now, you pay me 10 Dollars.

Anything is Possible in Havana

Cuba Anti-American Propaganda

Castro is truly a genius in social engineering, this culture is clever.

There is a Cuban person in a USA Jail, it is not clear.

This man runs across the street, and points at the sign saying,
“Anti-American Propaganda.”

He was fun; he was willing to pose for this photo, Cuba is a great country for photos. It is obvious; the Cuban people are in love with people and the culture of the USA. Somehow, they completely separate the people from the government.

Can the government of the USA do something 100 percent opposite of the desires of the people?

Castro and Presidents of USA
1. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Democrat
2. Lyndon Baines Johnson Democrat
3. Richard Milhous Nixon Republican
4. Gerald Rudolph Ford Republican
5. James Earl Carter Democrat
6. Ronald Reagan Republican
7. George H. W. Bush Republican
8. William Jefferson Clinton Democrat
9. George W. Bush Republican

Nine Presidents of the USA have refused to become friends with Cuba, refused to lower the economic sanctions. This is a curious situation, intriguing to say the least, These two countries have disagreed for almost 50 years. Why, it takes two people to argue, or does it take just one?

Luis, the owner of the Casa Particulare said,
“Obama will stop the sanctions.”

Too much fun… The one is the problem, never the group.

Whatever the case, the Cuban people are eating well, and living better than the majority of the people on planet earth; they are listed by the United Nations as High Development. This is a wealthy nation, putting in their time, waiting for the USA to come back.

Cuba Anti-American Propaganda

Cuban Weight Lifters

Many young Cuban men are body builders, there is very small gym close to my Casa Particulare.

This is Randy, he is works as a cook in a local school, he has been in Cuba for about a year. He lived in the USA from age 15 until now, but came back for some unknown reason. He said it was very difficult for a Cuban to come back, but easy for tourist.

I met him, when he asked me why I was taking a photo.

I instantly asked,
“You lift weights?”

I got permission to take his photo, it is difficult to explain small nuance of a culture such as weightlifting. People assume a one faceted aspect of a country, while every country has many faces, this is just one face. Generally, average white people are older looking, out of shape, face drawn and full of wrinkles. While the people with more Africa bloodlines are in better shape, faces are smoother, and generally look healthier than the Spanish dominated bloodlines.

The African women get fat after about age 20, as is normal for African body types.

Randy was funny, he said,
“They do not have red meat.”

There are two classes of people in Cuba, those who have, and those who do not. All the luxury goes to one class, the essential are provided to the lower class. I think there is some movement up and down, but it is difficult to understand. Many people will say they are poor, but the rich will not say, I am rich.

Be extremely careful when people approach you for any reason. If they try to be your friend, if they make the first move, normally there is a problem. I am approached daily by 1-3 people, if I was in a tourist area, it would be 5-10 people. They all want to help me, be my friend, take me free somewhere; it is an I am your best friend scam.

They will say “Free.”

Cuba is very safe, however they are clever, be very careful, the type of tourist who come to Cuba are perfect for swindles. The tourist also tend to think they are smart, clever, and this makes them easy targets, they are in love with Cuba, and they found their Cuban friend. Moreover, this friend is always so happy to help you solve your need for Cuban friends, and then he or she has you…
“I am your friend; I would not steal from you.”

Cuban Weight Lifters

Cuban Breakfast Restaurant

Cuba has these small hole in the wall restaurants, you walk up to counter, place your order, the food is cooked. You stand in the street eating your food, they are cheap, and the food is good.

Assume the prices are in Moneda National, do not pay them in CUC. If you can see other tourists, you are having a problem understanding Cuba, it is you.

Havana Habana Cuba Friday, December 11, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

This is Nancy, I paid 10 Pesos or about 40 Cents USD for this egg and cheese sandwich.

The prices are normally posted, but not always, some are organized, other are sloppy, for sure there is a man sitting around somewhere with no shirt.

This is a fried egg and cheese sandwich; it cost 10 Pesos here in Cuba.

Cuban Breakfast Restaurant

Cuba Private Home Negotiations

More of a Hostel, then a private home, Casa Particulares are the budget way to visit Cuba. All tourists to Cuba can rent rooms in licensed private homes, they are called Casas Particulares and they are everywhere, easy to find, and a great way to meet richer Cuban people. With some luck, and good choice, the neighbors, you will be immersed by people earning normal Cuban wages and you can learn about Cuba. These homes are more like a Hostels, then a private room, they are very organized, they advertise, have business cards, it is a business. This is not private; the government knows of them, they are licensed, the government knows what you are doing.

Casas Particulares
What is the secret to room negotiations here in Cuba?
Never commit for more than one day, unless you get your price.
Do not reserve a room in advance for more than one day.
Do not make a reservation over the Internet.
The private owners are extremely anxious, they do not have customers.

This sign tell you it is a licensed Private Home. These signs are everywhere.

Tricky Private Homes
The owner of the Casa Particulare I live in gave me a discount.
The owner said,
“The normal price is 30, we give you 20, because your friend of our friend from Norway.”
I am thinking,
- The correct value for this room is 5-10.
She then says,
“No breakfast, and you cannot bring friend over, and you must pay in advance.”

Havana Habana Cuba Friday, December 11, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

Why did she really give me a discount?

They told me the price by email was 25 CUC.
I came to the property; the owners are friends with my Norwegian friend.
I did not reserve a room.
I counted the number of days I would stay, and showed them.
I asked, what my discount is for 8 days,
They said, we cannot give you discount.
I decided to move in at the 25 CUC rate.
(I do not like Cuba; I want to sit in my room and read, and leave.)
When I arrive to move in, they ask me how many days I will stay.
I will pay for one day.
Why would I pay for longer, there are 100’s of Casas Particulares around.
Maybe I find a better price.
She says, we will give you 20, but no breakfast, and then added later, no friends.

The stupid part, I was going to pay 25 CUC, I was committed at 25 CUC, I am not in this country long enough to spend my whole time working to save 40 Dollars. I save from 40-55 Dollars by getting the 5 CUC discount per day.

Because I said, I am going to pay daily, she gave me a discount. Cuba is the same as any country, the longer the commitment, the greater the discount. I am sure; I can get a Casa Particulare for 15 CUC, if not 10, but cannot be bothered to try.

Negotiations in the Cuban Casa Particulares is dependent upon reservations, like any other Hotel on the planet, if you reserve the room, you reserve the price. There is no shortage of rooms in Cuba, I think there is an overabundance or rooms, and there is a shortage of tourist.

How I would rent a room if I come back to Cuba.
I would make sure I arrive early in the morning, so that I had time to visit many Casas Particulares. I would look for a room in Centro Habana, close to the Parque Central. If you are too close, scammers, trying to be your friend, continually bother you.

I would want:
Price of 10-15 CUC
Kitchen Privileges, so I can cook the cheap food I can easily purchase.
No Meals Included
(If you eat in the Casa, there is no reason to learn about the country.)
Permission to have two people in the room.
Permission to bring lovers into the room.
Locks on doors, security is very lax, and they do steal, it will be your friend…
The longer you stay, the bigger the discount.
Allowed to do my laundry for free, or they do for free.

Couples can easily pay half the price, here is the big savings.

1-5 days 15-20 is OK
5-10 days 15 is OK
10 and over, then 10 is OK

A person outside your room, makes about 20 CUC per month, do not feel sorry for the owners of Casa Particulares, they are rich. Theses are my opinions; I have only been in country for 14 days, I this is my first time. I am sure you can get better prices. However, I suspect the majority of you will do worst. I also was living in an unlicensed room for four days, I am sure you can get better prices, if you somehow get outside the government controls.

Cuba Private Home Negotiations

Cuba Car Engine

Yes, it is an old car; now show me what is under the bonnet. The body of a car bores me to death, excessively simple, just another pretty face, I want to see the engine, yesterday I was lucky, a man was working in the street, and this is not that common here in Cuba. This country is organized, clean, and rich, however maybe boring.

Four Cylinders

Havana Habana Cuba Thursday, December 10, 2009
Centro Habana
By Andres Hidalgo with editing
Travel Gear

The outside of this same car.

Cuba Car Engine