The Lonely Planet says there is 3000 Casas Particulares in Havana. Everyone with an extra room wants to rent it to a tourist, I see more rooms than tourist, but it feels as if there are price controls, whether real or agreed upon, everyone appears to ask 25-35 CUC per night.
I do not believe tourist negotiate.
Havana Habana Cuba Saturday, Monday, December 7, 2009
By Andres Hidalgo with editing Travel Gear
I will start to look for a cheaper room today, or offer the owners of my Casa Particulare 15 CUC per night. I am in an illegal one, there is no moral high ground for the owners, they cannot say they are paying taxes. They are excellent people; however, I do not believe Cuban people are accustomed to people negotiating. It is tough to negotiate when all the tourist around you are silly, naïve, rich and stupid. Locals become indignant, how can you ask for a discount. I find it quite easy, if a person really only makes 20 CUC per month, then allowing that same person to earn a profit of one month in one day is abusive and exploitive, inflative and harmful to he economy. It is not real money; it is not gained by giving good value.
It cost me 1 dollar to go and return from Centro Habana or Habana Vieja, I can easily live here and travel to the area, but I will not be immersed. It is hard to taste the flavor of people, unless you live with them. I know the flavor or Vedado is horrible, I know the flavor of Centro Habana is better.
I have 10 more days in country; this is a Caribbean Island, maybe it full of beautiful beaches. I feel is cheaper than the small Caribbean Islands, I am asking myself daily, what should I go see that is different. What is special about Cuba? I cannot say the USA economic sanctions; this only stopped one country, not the rest of the world. Castro made this Island the way he wanted, more the way he wanted, then the people of Cuba.
The people are free, however they can only buy what is allowed in the country, the gate keeper determined the products here.
Is there anything different in Cuba, I am from Colombia; we have many of the same types of building, nothing that unique here so far. While my family is rich in Colombia, it appears my family would be average in Cuba.
Habana Vieja looks like this, building are newer, older, dirtier and cleaner, there is no substantial difference, I think two days of living with this in Habana Vieja, and I would be finished.
I have been reading the guidebook; this country is permeated with tourism. I want to find a small city like my home city of Sincelejo, Colombia. We do not have tourist, I want to see what a city in Cuba looks like naturally without the tourist influence. Habana Vieja has a tourist street; it is not old as much as it is tourist.
In a country designed to maximize the tourist dollars, what saves tourism here is the ability to live in private homes. If there was or is real competition, then tourist can live in this country extremely cheap, cheaper than any of the other Caribbean style islands.
My friend called it oppressive, I am lost to understand, tourism in full force is always oppressive, stifling and way to keep all the people on the same track. I have not found anything different about the tourism here than any other country. They want you to pay, give you bad service, and you need to say you like it, this is normal.
Where shall I go, this is my question, I am surrounded by tourist traps, I do not want to fall into one. I am from Colombia, I not have the money the European tourists have, I cannot afford to fall into these money grabbing traps. I will go see if there is a Casa Particulare in Centro Habana for 10 or 15 CUC, my Norwegian friends did not care about money, they are gone, and I do not need to go along to make them happy now. I am glad this was only 3-4 days of this mentality, I would have had to tell them they were paying too much, too silly if I hung around longer. I do not like to agree to be stupid; sometimes friends cause me more headache than they are worth.
She does not like beggars, I finally realized, she gives them money, she always feels abused, she cannot say no, they extract money from tourist, I am glad she feels abused.