Friday, June 4, 2021

CuBA


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Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet. 

Visiting Cuba is a highlight-packed sensory overload, especially if you take the time to understand the past political strife that has shaped a nation that stands on the cusp of a social and economic revolution.

That includes an increasing number of accommodation options opening up – even Airbnb has arrived, and a clued-in host can give you a great head-start with some key tips to get the most out of your stay.

HABLO A LITTLE ESPANOL


Cubans have had little access to the outside world for the past 50 years and outside the main tourist areas, Spanish is almost exclusively spoken. If your Spanish is non-existent, grab a phrase book and practise a few key phrases on the long flight over. Being able to hail a taxi and negotiate the destination and fare are vital to getting around, and being able to order food and drink is handy. If all else fails, "lo siento, hablo no Espanol" at least says you're sorry you don't understand what someone is saying to you.

Visiting Cuba is a highlight-packed sensory overload, especially if you take the time to understand the past political strife that has shaped a nation that stands on the cusp of a social and economic revolution.

That includes an increasing number of accommodation options opening up – even Airbnb has arrived, and a clued-in host can give you a great head-start with some key tips to get the most out of your stay.

 If you do get into conversations with a local, take the opportunity to find out about their life and experiences.

If you do get into conversations with a local, take the opportunity to find out about their life and experiences before you go.


 

Next, you need to organise finance. Many credit cards – especially those issued by banks with American links – won't work in Cuba, and ATM access shouldn't be assumed, either. Check with your bank to see what might work for you. If all else fails there's cash, which of course isn't as safe to carry in large amounts but is hugely convenient on the street


HABLO  a little Espanol


Cubans have had little access to the outside world for the past 50 years and outside the main tourist areas, Spanish is almost exclusively spoken. If your Spanish is non-existent, grab a phrase book and practise a few key phrases on the long flight over. Being able to hail a taxi and negotiate the destination and fare are vital to getting around, and being able to order food and drink is handy. If all else fails,  no Espanol" at least says you're sorry you don't understand what someone is saying to you.

Cuba has a fascinating history of instability and revolution, and if you're staying in an Airbnb property you can gain much more insight from your host if you can converse knowledgeably about the factors that have led to the austere life they live today. 


If you do get into conversations with a local, take the opportunity to find out about their life and experiences under the strict socialist regime. Interaction and immersion with the friendly and proud locals will add a deeper layer to your stay.


 Museo de la Revolucion Havana, Cuba.

Museo de la  Havana, Cuba. 

Get some protection

Like many South American and carribean  destination, Cuba has a mosquito problem. virus has been featured prominently in the news, but that's only a big problem if you're pregnant or planning to be; for everyone else, a dose of is a mild inconvenience. Of greater concern, my Airbnb host Gustavo warns, is the risk of dengue fever, which can be debilitating. To be safe, source an insect repellent with a high percentage of (otherwise known as  de Li meta – slathering it on a couple of times daily is the most effective way to ward off the nasties. You'll also need a decent 50+ sunscreen for Cuba's powerful sun, which you should apply before the insect repellent so it's better absorbed into your skin.

them to a bar, cafe, museum or nightclub, where they'll receive a spotter's fee. Others may offer to be your guide and happily chat with you for hours in disarmingly friendly fashion – but at the end, there's always an outstretched hand. 


Approach these interactions expecting to pay for a slice of their time and local knowledge, which is sometimes well worth it. If you're on a tight budget, be up front that you have no money to give. Even though you didn't ask to be accosted, a refusal to cough up after assistance has been rendered could cause confrontation.

Get out of the city


Cuba is much more than just Havana, although you can easily spend a week wandering the old town, poking around Vedado, and taking in the neighbouring coastal settlements. If you're keen to see it all, consider side trips to Trinidad – a UNESCO world heritage site with beautiful architecture and sensational beaches – or Santiago de Cuba, at the opposite end of the island. The latter has history in spades and offers a more genuine Cuban experience than tourist-focused Havana. Closer to Havana, you can take a 20-minute taxi ride to out to Cojimar, the setting for the Ernest Hemingway novel The Old Man and the Sea and the place where Hemingway kept his own boat.


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