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“How can you only have fives?” I ask her in Spanish, feeling frustrated. This is the only CADECA open today in Trinidad, even though it’s one of the most important tourist destinations on the island. I have to get Cuban pesos now, because we’re heading to a little town in the Bay of Pigs that definitely won’t have any place to change money. “It’s Cuba,” she says, and shrugs. So I collect 181 notes and shove them into my money belt, which no longer zips all the way and makes me look pregnant. At least we won’t starve to death. Luckily, I’m later able to change the small bills for people who were only able to get large bills when they changed their money.

Drink your daily rum, The good news is, rum is cheap, I drink a lot of it, Mojitos, Pina coladas, You name it, We drank it, Yes, I gained repetto theatre ballet flats weight, I’m not sorry, One oddity of Cuba is that there’s very little Internet access, Most Cubans don’t have it in their homes, You must go to a public park and buy an Internet card to get connected to basic Wi-Fi, You can tell these parks, because everyone’s sitting around staring at their phones, just like at home, I never bothered, It was nice to be unplugged, Even though I found out later our friends were worried about our radio silence..

At first, my two teenagers eagerly headed out for the park each night. Then, gradually, they lost interest. We had actual conversations that weren’t interrupted by cat videos. We ate lobster, fresh fish and shrimp everywhere. We swam in crystal blue waters. We walked. We talked. We danced. We met wonderful people. So, yes, I have a hangover. And I don’t ever want it to end. Language: Cubans are taught English in school but seldom have a chance to practice, so very little is spoken outside of Old Havana. The Cuban dialect is spoken very fast and is hard to catch, even if you speak Spanish.

Money: Due to the U.S, trade repetto theatre ballet flats embargo, Americans could not use any U.S, credit or debit cards in Cuba, That means, get yourself a good money belt and bring cash, When you arrive, you’ll have to go to an official money exchange, called a CADECA, and buy Cuban pesos, They are outside the Havana airport, You must buy Cuban convertible pesos, known as CUCs (pronounced “kooks”), They are tied to the U.S, dollar, so worth $1 each, However, here’s the catch: You must pay a 10 percent penalty for using American dollars, plus the exchange commission, When we went, we paid $100 and got back $87 in return..

We were frugal but not penny pinching and spent around $140 per person, per day. Cuba is not as cheap as, say, Mexico, but it’s cheaper than Europe. You can also use the local money that Cubans use, called moneda nacional, to save money on some purchases. But you must first change your dollars into CUCs, then into moneda nacional. Don’t change money on the street. It’s illegal. Information: When you buy a plane ticket to Cuba, you are still required to list a reason for going. Just put down, “Support for the Cuban people.” No one ever asked us a word about this before or after. You’ll have to buy a tourist visa at the airport before you leave. This costs $50 and can be purchased on the spot. You can use a credit card to buy it.

No one asked us a single question when we returned to the U.S, except how much liquor we were bringing back, The relationship between the U.S, and Cuba is repetto theatre ballet flats changing rapidly, and, with the death of Fidel Castro, so is the Cuban economy, Get the most up-to-date guidebook you can, and prepare to be flexible, We got a lot of misinformation from other travelers, such as, “You can just use dollars, They want dollars.” No, they don’t, The best source of info is the Cuban people, You won’t be able to get online to look things up, so bring a map and tourist information with you, Note that inside Cuba, mobile phones can only call other mobile phones, and land lines can only call land lines..

Safety: Cuba is a very safe country with little violent crime. It’s safe to walk around anywhere. However, as in any poor country, there’s a lot of petty theft. Watch your belongings and keep money in a safe in your room. Watch your stuff at the beach, too. But don’t get paranoid. I left my phone in a taxi and got it back the same day. If you see street beggars in Old Havana, be aware that they are professionals. All Cubans have enough food and medical care. They do not need milk for their babies. People who come up to you in the street are likely trying to scam you or get you into a club or restaurant where they will get a commission. Decline politely.

Don’t buy cigars on the street, They’re probably made of banana leaves, not tobacco, Getting around: It’s just as cheap to hire a car and driver as to rent a car yourself, Reserve online repetto theatre ballet flats before you go, Your guesthouse owner can find you a driver to take you anywhere you like, Yellow taxis are government-owned and -licensed, and more expensive, There are two bus companies that will take you on long-haul trips at reasonable cost, Locally, there are also collective taxis that will haul you around cheaply, Get a guidebook to learn more..

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