Travel restrictions announced by Trump last June have banned travel to Cuba independently under the people-to-people category. Touristic travel to Cuba for sun tanning and relaxation is prohibited for both US and non-US citizens travelling on a US carrier. All passengers (US. and non-US citizens) travelling on a US carrier must submit a signed form certifying the passenger is travelling under one of the 12 travel categories authorised by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). [Read more…]
Internet access is not yet widely available in Cuba and it can be unreliable. But guess what? You are on holiday! Take a break from your phone and computer, forget about sharing snaps in real time, and enjoy a true holiday, just like your parents used to. Although if you get desperate make your way to the closest Wifi park. [Read more…]
There are two currencies in operation in Cuba. You may be wondering why they make things so difficult for themselves but the tale of the two currencies is as integral to Cuban culture as salsa and rum. Read on to find out more about how these currencies operate, their exchange rates and the best places to withdraw local currency in Cuba. [Read more…]
After three flights of stairs I arrived at a nondescript door to an apartment. I had been given the address by a friend of my neighbour. I knocked gingerly. The door opened a crack: “Sí?”, asked a pair of eyes semi obscured by shadow.
“Eeee, Jorge?”, I asked.
“Who wants to know?”
“Elio sent me. He says you might have some… um…” I dropped my voice to a whisper, “cheese”.
Jorge looked behind me, then opened the door enough for me to come inside. He lead me into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Reaching so far into the back that the side of his face pressed up against the frame, he removed a parcel covered in an old copy of Granma, the national newspaper. There was just over half a wheel of cheese left. [Read more…]
Domino is serious business in Cuba. When I lived there, many a night was spent drinking viña or rum and playing countless rounds hasta la madrugada. As the night wore on and the rum wore thin, the voices would get louder and the rhythm more intense. Bang! someone would slam down a tile – “te cogí!” they would shout at their opponent, “I got you!”. The victim, helpless, would groan, curse and push over their tiles in frustration. An argument would ensue with their partner across the table – “I thought you had twos! Why the hell did you kill my sixes?!” Meanwhile, the winners like greedy little bankers would get to work counting up their scores for the round, taking brief pauses to gloat and fan the flames of what could often become a rather heated exchange. I’ve never heard of dominoes-induced divorce, but it would not surprise me.
Now, if you’ve played dominoes, some of the above would have made sense. However, if your idea of dominoes ends with lining up the tiles and knocking them down (as mine once did), it was most likely gibberish. Domino is such a big part of Cuban social life that it pays to have a little understanding of the game before going – who knows, you could even win a round (always controversial as a foreigner). [Read more…]