4 Scams to Avoid in Havana

 

On average Cubans make around $20 a month and don’t even come close to making ends meet. Many of them see tourists as an opportunity to them help them survive. This does not go for all Cuban people, once you get outside of Havana the attitude and motives starts to change. However, here are 4 scams that I have personally fallen victim to in Havana. Hopefully this will help you avoid them before visiting Cuba!

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Cuba on a Shoestring Budget

 

For the 30 days I was in Cuba, I had budgeted to spend about $2,000 CUC. I ended up spending only $1,300 CUC. I was able to cut costs by sharing a room, cooking meals in my casa and I also took advantage of traveling like a local whenever possible.

I did however, buy meals or drinks for my Cuban friends so, that did add a little extra to my trip expenses. I was happy to do it though being so under budget.

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Morro Castle and Grandma’s Ashes

 

I was over joyed to spend the day with two English speakers after primarily spending my days with people who only spoke Spanish. Lucas is 19 years, from Denmark and is traveling solo as well. We decided to travel together to Trinidad the following day by bus.

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Learning to Twerk from a Three Year Old

By Sunday I was ready to get out of La Habana. I had been there for two weeks and the city was starting to get to me. I hadn’t found anyone else to travel with so I decided to just head to Trinidad solo the following day.

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Beach Days and Hurricanes

 

My German friend Tim and I decided to finally go to the beach! It only took me two weeks to finally leave La Habana. Tim is traveling around the world and on a tight budget like myself so we decided to take the bus. We both had been to scared to ride it alone, him because he speaks no Spanish and me because they pack people on there like sardines.

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Eating Ice Cream and Getting Wet

 

Ice cream is by far my all time favorite food. I had heard about this amazing ice cream place from one of the employees at my casa called Coppelia. Apparently for only 5 CUP, a little less than .25 cents you could get a huge bowl with 6 scoops of ice cream. A little side note, CUP is different from CUC. CUP are Cuban pesos, the national money that is to only be used by Cubans. There are roughly 24 CUP to 1 CUC. Tourists use CUC and generally pay more for things.

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How I Almost Shit My Pants in Cuba

 

Well we all have to get sick at least once in a foreign country and I did…

I met up with my friend Tim to go to the beach and all the sudden my stomach started to ache with pains. Thank god we were close to a hotel so I could use their bathroom. Bathrooms are hard to come by in Cuba, they are always usually missing a toilet seat, toilet paper, soap and sometimes even running water. Make sure to always carry toilet paper on you and use hotel bathrooms because they’re sure to have the most amenities.

I thought I could walk it off but it just started to get worse and worse. My doctor had prescribed me some medicine in case this happens. I had left some items with my Couchsurfing host in Mexico City because I had too many things to carry and of course I stupidly I left those pills.

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Afro-Cuban Dancers and Crazy French Women

 

I met a new Cuban friend named Enzo who told me about an Afo-Cuban place that had free live music on Sundays, Callejón de Hamel. It’s located on San Lazero right by the Centro Habana hospital. I went during the middle of the day in the hot blazing sun to check it out.

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Exchanging Money and Sweaty Ladies Twerking

 

Saturday was insane in La Habana. I woke up early to exchange money at the bank, early being 9am. Inside the air conditioned bank there were about 20 people sitting down waiting for their turn. You call out,”la última” meaning the last and whoever is last inline let’s you know. Then you don’t actually wait behind that person, you just sit down and remember who you were after.

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Salsa Cover Bands and Prostitues

 

I met up with my new best friend in Cuba, Leduane. We went to an outdoor cafe in Vedado. Vedado is a great neighborhood in Havana full of restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s much more “tranquilo” than Centro Habana and cheaper than Habana Vieja. However on the weekend the streets are filled with more people than I have ever seen and the party usually doesn’t stop until pretty early in the morning. I ate some ice cream that was basically soup and he had a beer.

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Cuba – Hurry Up and Wait

 

Welcome to Cuba. Home of famous cigars, the best rum in the world, and the land of old cars. Welcome to the place that isn’t in a hurry to do anything – meeting times are more of a suggestion and nothing is done in a logical way. But for some reason – I love this place.

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