Archive | Cuba RSS feed for this section

Bikes and beaches: exploring Baracoa and playas in Cuba.

6 Jun

All signs were pointing to a good time for us in Baracoa when our bus stopped for a short break not far from town and I found a street vendor selling local Baracoan chocolate. The obligatory taste test over a cup of coffee saw me sneakily stocking up our rations.

Continue reading

A hop, skip and a jump. Camaguey, Bayamo & Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

28 May

Our Cuban travels continue to migrate east…


We arrive in Camaguey much, much later than we had expected. The rain in Trinidad caused rivers to flood, leaving buses to take a longer route around it. About 4 hours longer, to be exact. This gave us much less time to experience the town, leaving us to taking a stroll through the tiny laneways before finally finding ourselves in our first government-run restaurant for dinner. Not quite understanding how the portions and the menu worked, we haphazardly ordered as best we could. While the food was fairly average, there is very little to complain about a meal for two, consisting of meat, veg, rice, beer, water, and a tip, totaling a mere AUD$7. How is this possible? Cuba has two currencies – one for Cuban nationals and one for tourists. $1CUC (tourist currency) = 25Pesos (national currency) = $1AUD. The intricacies of the system can take some time to get your head around, but the bottom line is services aimed at tourists are charged at a much higher rate because, well, with our stronger economies, we can afford to pay more. Cuba being a socialist country means all Cubans have their basic necessities free – housing, schooling, health-care – and other basic necessities such as fruit, veg and elementary cooking ingredients, are charged in the currency for Cuban nationals – Cuban pesos (for example, one banana costs 1 Peso, therefore for $1 Aussie dollar, you could buy 25 bananas. There is, however, no rule disallowing a tourist nor a Cuban national from exchanging money into the other’s currency and purchasing items with it. And so, this is how we find ourselves forking out so little for a night’s meal.

Continue reading

Raindrops keep falling on my head… in Vinales, Cienfuegos & Trinidad, Cuba.

24 May

On our final day in Havana, we arise early and take a 1950’s Chevy taxi (as you do) to the bus station. It takes a mere 2 hours to get to Vinales, a tranquil town in the Pinar del Rio region, but given the drastic change in the weather you’d have sworn we’d travelled further. As the rain drizzled around us and the warning of much more in the days to come, our hopes of visiting either Cayo Jutias or Cayo Levisa were dashed. These islands have been named as two of the very few islands in Cuba which remain quiet and without the establishment of large all-inclusive resorts, so we’re a tad disappointed.

Continue reading

Havana-ing a good time in Cuba

16 May

It’s Saturday 21st May and after almost missing a previous flight to Cartagena we are at Bogota airport in really good time for the short hop to Havana. And it’s just as well, as after lining up to check in, we are turned away as we haven’t yet had our passports stamped to leave the country. So off we trudge through the airport with our belongings on our backs to duly get our stamps and line back up, only to then be turned away again as we don’t have enough Colombian Pesos on us to pay the departure tax. “Departure tax?”, we say in unison, as I’m pointed in the direction of an ATM. Oh yes, departure tax, as in tax to depart, and as in contained in the guide book, under ‘Taxes: Departure’. Excellent pre-trip planning we have done again. Perhaps in Cuba we’ll read the bloody guide book rather than haul it around for exercise!

Continue reading