When on holiday in Cuba Internet access does exist ... but! To access it is a step by step process: first you have to buy an access card and then find and get to a WiFi (weefee) zone. Standing or sitting on a pavement or a park bench getting access. With a slow and limited connection.
When you are accustomed to easy internet access having it so limited is like having one hand chopped off. It is impossible to use apps like Speak and Translate or Google maps. There is no access to the Internet to look up information about sightseeing sites or events.
Food is generally quite bland and quite greasy – but served in king-sized quantities. In many cases what it lacks in quality it makes up in quantity.
Eating in tourist frequented places is premium priced.
Manufacturing appears to have evaporated – many imported products could be made in Cuba. Saving foreign exchange and employing people throughout the supply chain.
There are many countries and individuals that could assist if the leaders showed some creativity and vision. The Cuban people would respond to the opportunity.
There are piles of garbage on the roadsides of highways and in some towns and villages. Why? Wouldn't it be a simple task to arrange garbage collection?
In the cities we visited sidewalks and roads are littered with broken glass. Something I always notice and is a pet hate. To me it’s a sign that people don’t care. This blight is in complete contrast to countries in Asia like the Philippines and Vietnam where it is rare.
With free education system isn’t one of the most basic lessons … do not litter? Do not break bottles on sidewalks.
Using Homestay.com we made accommodation bookings for our complete itinerary. The prices of rooms per night varied from USD49 (extravagant in Santa Clara) through the USD30’s to USD20’s per night.
The price didn’t always have a direct correlation to the room, or the breakfasts or the hosts ... often less was more. Although some hosts didn’t speak much English we managed to communicate using the Spanish Dictionary and Google Translate apps (Android and IOS) and hand gestures!
One improvement of the casa particular service is that they could organise the transfer from the airport or bus station to prevent their customers being taken advantage of by taxi drivers.
We were shocked by the laundry costs at some casas. Our first load of laundry in Cuba cost more than 3 weeks in Vietnam!!!
The Two Currency System
Cuba has a unique, weird two currency system and no one seems to understand why. Local people get paid in pesos (looks like a lot!) and many of the items they buy are priced in convertible pesos or CUC (looks like a little). The official exchange rate is 25 pesos to a CUC.
Then the official exchange rate is 1.00 CUC to 1.00 USD but in exchanging them and with ATM fees it is more like 1.10 USD to a CUC.
What are the benefits of this two currency system? Why does it exist?