Cuba and 5 Things No Blog Prepared Me For
Cuba is considered one of the top "It" spots for 2017, so I had to see it for myself and of course, bring a few travel bugs along for the ride (interested in group travel? Click here). Preparation for our adventure back into the 50’s was something none of us were quite ready for. Scouring the internet, I spent the majority of my time reading as many blogs as I could to gather information to prepare us for our trip.
The trip was hands down amazing! Five days, exploring six cities and all that Cuba had to offer, left us exhausted yet satisfied with our adventure. We made memories that will last us a lifetime as well as valuable learned lessons as we embarked a new country and culture.
After our trip, I feel it was my duty to share something about our experience. Many moments shocked us that we weren’t quite prepared for. So I decided to share the things we encountered that no blog could prepare you for or they just left out.
No Take Backs! - Service Industry
On our first day in Havana, we made a pit stop at the Sloppy Joe's bar, a historical Old Havana bar for a refreshing beverage. We sat at the bar for over 15 minutes waiting for someone to service us. You would’ve thought sitting at the bar gets you faster service, but they continued to walk back and forth until we flagged someone down to take our order. Deciding to expand our palate a few of us indulged in new drinks. WORST IDEA EVER! One person had a bug in their drink, and a couple of us ordered this AWFUL drink they called Adam and Eve! (Campari is downright disgusting! Who would ever drink such a thing?) We all returned our drinks and ordered another.
When it was time to go, we noticed they charged us for all the drinks. Now I can understand us having to pay for the nasty drink, but not the drink with the bug in it! They didn’t even offer to remake it. This time our guide spoke to the waitress, and she took it off but added attitude. She even got mad because we were paying separately. Now that’s her fault because we all ordered separately and some to different waiters. No one said to put our checks together!
Now let me say this… I’m not saying Cuban people aren’t friendly. I’ve interacted with some genuinely nice people on this trip, but the majority were men. The women came off a bit rude at times, but more so the women in the service area. I remain kind to all, but I try my hardest to avoid returning anything when traveling abroad.
You want me to use that? - Bathrooms I’ve read on the blogs and forums about paying for the bathrooms. I didn’t see that as a big deal because it’s customary in Europe. What I wish someone would’ve mentioned were how some public restrooms lacked a toilet seat! Granted I wouldn’t dare sit on it, but I at least like to lace it with toilet paper just in case my knees give out or I lose my balance and fall. My falling in a toilet is the equivalent of a man leaving the seat up… nothing but toilet! And the toilet had the nerve to be one of those low sitting ones too. No wonder the Cuban women walking around with big ol’ bubble buts! All they life they had to squat!
Now, not all bathrooms are like this. Hotels, some restaurants, and our Airbnb were up to the American standard. Some might not have been the cleanest, but they had a seat.
Toilet tissue? I thought they were kidding when I read to bring your own toilet tissue. I took heed and packed a mini travel roll but forgot it in the car since I changed purses. I was already shocked about not having a toilet seat, but now toilet tissue too?!! You quickly get over that when your bladder is finna explode, but when you do a quick look around for toilet tissue, one begins to panic. How do you have a bathroom with no seat AND no toilet tissue! That’s basically a closet with a water bucket in it. They didn’t even have soap and paper towels. I know all you germaphobes would’ve gone insane. At that moment, I took my luck just to hold it until we could either get our tissue or go to a better restroom. After that day, we were all armed with toilet tissue, wet wipes, and sanitizer. We never left home without it.
Just to think… the women must stand and shake too or have pissy draws because it's no way they are not left with residue from the little drops of pee they didn’t get to wipe off…. But I digress.
Not My Purse! Cuba is not too fond of big purses. Shoot… even some medium handbags won’t do! I thought I was doing something with my medium size cross-body, but I was shooed out of several stores and was warned to change purses if I wanted to go on the Cigar Tour. I understand it’s for their safety because people steal, but geesh I didn’t think my bag was that big.
EXTRA TIP: Try not to take a purse to the club. If you do, some places give you have the option to check the purse in with the club, buuuuttttt I don’t know who would want to do that. The other option is to show my ID as I sign a waiver saying they aren’t responsible if anything happens to our purses.
Cuban Men Siiiggghhhhh… Cuban men. First, let me start off by saying I never felt soo much admiration in one trip. The Cuban men loved ya girl! The men are such big flirts, and I ate it all up. I never got this much play back in the states! I was definitely back in the game in Cuba. Our tour guide was the first to be smitten. He did everything from showering me with compliments to picking me up out of the car (yes… he picked me up lol) to getting on a knee to wash the sand off my feet! “That’s a good man Savannah.” (…Waiting to Exhale... keep up people!)
As we explored the country, no matter where we went, the compliments kept coming. It was definitely a boost to the ego. Several others tried their hardest with English and did whatever they could to steal a kiss.
I don’t think this type of attention is anything one could prepare for. It doesn't matter what you look like the men will holler. I asked why and one said they just love women. Definitely a place if you're trying to get your groove back... Stella.
BONUS: Exchange or Not exchange I read a lot of back and forth about exchanging of money. I decided to bring half Euros and half US Dollars. I exchanged a little bit, but there are plenty of places to exchange money. A euro is considered 1 for 1 and accepted everywhere. Most restaurants and shops we visited take US dollars, but the exchange rate is not the same due to the penalty. Be sure to calculate before paying, so you don’t get ripped off.
Hey... as Americans, we got it honest. We set ourselves on a pedestal subconsciously and tend to compare the world to our way of living. Being well traveled doesn't mean you don't encounter shocking moments. It just means you know how to adjust to them quickly. Even with preparation, it’s nothing like the actual contact with a new country and its culture. We just have to be open to adapting.