Don’t bring porn to Cuba.

No, seriously Vulnerabites! This was part of my introduction as I sat in the clouds filling out my customs form before arriving in this land ‘forbidden to Americans.’ Among the list of things I was asked to declare, right next to live animals (like, do people claim their pets?)… there it was PORNOGRALIA… and in case you didn’t catch the “porno” in that word, it was in english too… PORNOGRAPHY.

“The captain asks that you fasten your seat belts as we prepare for landing.” This is going to be interesting!

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In Old Havana… a 3 minute walk from my Air BnB, where the cruise ships dock.

I’m not going to rob you of your own authentic experience to Cuba by telling you about mine, but I will offer you some tips for when/if you do get to the island yourself.

  1. Download MAPS.ME app… and then download the map for Cuba (or whatever country you’re traveling to). You need internet access to download the app, but you don’t need internet to use the app. Don’t ask me how, but with no internet connection or local sim card, the map tracked my location AND offered a live GPS feature. I was literally directing my cab driver with this app.
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Using Maps.Me, I found a new walking route back to my AirBnB. I recognized my street name, and BAM, explored a new part of my neighborhood.

2. Don’t bring US Dollars … or just be prepared to pay a 10% fee for exchanging to CUC. Not to mention you’re also losing 5cents for every $1USD — you only get 95cents (CUC). To give you a better picture, when I exchanged $500USD, I got back 431 CUC… Yep! I lost $69 on just EXCHANGING the money! Instead, exchange your dollars to EUROS or Canadian dollars at your local back while you are in the US. My bank charges a flat $7.50 to exchange to a different currency. If I could do it again, I would definitely take the bank fee over the exchange fee in Cuba. Trust me on this one folks! To my American Vulnerabites, you can not use your credit/debit cards in the country… there will be no ATMS that work with any American issued cards… like AT ALL. Make sure you have enough cash on hand… I would recommend bringing MORE than you think you’ll need.

To be stuck in a foreign country with NO MONEY is NO BUENO.

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Historical Landmarks in Old Havana.. this is in Cathedral Square.

3. Know KEY Spanish phrases … Listen! I didn’t know that living in Miami my whole life had somehow implanted some Spanish on these tastebuds…and I used up all the bits and pieces I had inside of me. They do NOT speak English in Cuba…why should they? lol. You might find servers at the restaurants who know a few phrases in English, but for the most part… the locals DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. I knew a few basic Spanish phrases, and managed to put words together to make sense, but at some point I was standing on chairs, pointing to ceilings and playing a mild version of charades to communicate with my Air BnB host….Seriously.

  1. Here are a few things you might want to know in Spanish:

Please. (Por favor….Pore-fah-vore)

Thank You. (Gracias….Grah-see-ahs)

I’m sorry. (Lo siento….Low-see-in-tow)

How much does it cost? (cuanto cuesta….koo-ahn-tow koo-s-tah)

Where is the bathroom? (Donde esta el bano…..done-day-s-tah-L-bah-nee-yo)

I would like to … (fill in your verb)… order, eat , visit… (Me gustaria (ordenar, comer, visitar)…
may-goose-tah-ree-yah (or-day-nahr, ko-mare, vee-zee-tar))

Where can I buy an internet card? (Donde puedo comprar una tarjeta de internet.. Done-day-poo-aye-do-kom-prar-oohna-tar-hay-tah-day-internet)

Oh you thought I was going to translate it for you?…lol. Ask Youtube or a friend who speaks Spanish, it might be more helpful  to hear the pronunciation. (Thanks to a fellow Vulnerabite – translations and pronunciations have been provided… Thank You Joelle!)

4. Pepto-Bismol!!! Oh yes! If you’re not accustomed to the water (or ice cubes) — or milk–or any ingredients in the food— it could potentially rub your belly the wrong way. Bring your pain killers or any other ‘basic meds’ you’re accustomed to also. There will be no 24 hrs CVS to run to… and if you end up at the hospital, remember to bring your own sheets 🙂

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When in Cuba…. (Cuban Classic: $3 Mojito)

Relax and Savor the Cuban Experience!

5. Bring Snacks.
Oh yeah baby! For the plane ride, immigration line, cab rides, walking around the town and those in-between moments of restaurant hopping… my Fiber-One bars, Flamin Hot Cheetos and Honey Roasted Nuts saved the day every time. You are going to be in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the foods … you want something to hold you over until you can find/buy some food that soothes the hunger games of your tummy.

Bonus Blogg-age: Enjoy the Experience. Accept that you are in a different country and that things work differently, perhaps a little slower than what America offers you. Keep in mind that a lot of things we take for granted are not readily available… like WI-FI! I have Wifi at my Walmart, but in Cuba… I paid $4.50 to use the internet only in a specific location (the lobby of a hotel) for just one hour! Enjoy being UnPlugged!

In Cuba I visited Old Havana, Vedado, Matanzas & Veradero 🙂 — All very different… lots of tourists in Old Havana (mini Times Square) …. Vedado is your more ‘upscale’ community with modern ‘ocean view’ units (oh and do visit El Concinero restaurant, I got a lobster dinner for $15 –and it was YUMMY!) —  Matanzas is more of your ‘rural – horse & buggy – country’ life… Veradero was where all the Europeans (especially Italians) hide in the Beach Resorts — white sand beaches like you see on the Bahamas commercials…lol….Check out the picture on my Instagram page.

PS. Vulnerabites, if you’ve been to Cuba and have some other helpful tips to share… post them in the comment section… or if you have any other questions, ask in the comment box or on my IG page, I’m happy to answer them 🙂

Yours Vulnerably,

The Naked Writer

Let’s Connect on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook

PS. Oh and a gentle reminder to subscribe  🙂

11 Comments Add yours

  1. GUUURRRLLL!!! This trip looks fabulous!! Cuba is on my list! Thank you for sharing this lovely experience!!! Will definitely be referring to this WHEN that trip happens!👌🏾😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh really>!>!>> ? YYYAAYYY!!! Yes! These tips are definitely helpful! Not just tooting my own horn… but really. I’m on standby for pics WHEN you take that trip! lol

      Like

  2. Melludi says:

    Proof you’re a good writer/blogger period – you took some iPhone photos and wrote about your vacay….yet this could easily be featured on a travel blog or magazine 🙂 Love that you had such an authentic visit…Seems the naked writer can’t help but have naked experiences too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AAAaaawww!!! Girl, you better stop gassing me up! lol. “Authentic Visit” is the right way to describe my time there…lol. Good to have you back Melludi lol

      Like

  3. Thanks for sharing bits from your trip hun! How very interesting! Cuba sounds like nothing i’ve ever experienced. Beautiful photos as well! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting experience indeed! 🙂 Thanks for the compliment on the photos… all taken with my handy dandy iPhone 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Joelle says:

    Great Tips!
    For those phrases:

    Thank you….Gracias….Grah-see-ahs
    Please….Por favor….Pore-fah-vore
    I’m sorry….Lo siento….Low-see-in-tow
    How much does it cost….cuanto cuesta….koo-ahn-tow koo-s-tah
    Where is the bathroom…Donde esta el bano…..done-day-s-tah-L-bah-nee-yo
    I would like to (order, eat, visti)…Me gustaria (ordenar, comer, visitar)…
    may-goose-tah-ree-yah (or-day-nahr, ko-mare, vee-zee-tar)
    Where can I buy an internet card… Donde puedo comprar una tarjeta de internet.. Done-day-poo-aye-do-kom-prar-oohna-tar-hay-tah-day-internet

    I’m awful at phonetics, but hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yyyyyyaaaaaassssssss!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!! I’m going to add this to the post!

      Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good information to have, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found it helpful!

      Like

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