5* hotel, casa particular or sleeping at local’s houses plus a little thoughts on socialism
The taxi waits for you at the airport so you don’t need to be afraid of contact with “annoyng locals”. The services in the hotel are perfect west standard and all Cubans around you talk fluent
English. There is warm water 24hours a day, seat is at every toilet and air condition works all the time. Traditional foods consist a lot of beef, vegetables and interesting spices. You can hear the real live traditional music while eating or in the bar. Personal amigo can help you with every problem and gladly shows you all the cool spots and good restaurants. At the organised trips you get instructions where to go, what to photograph and where to eat and you don’t need to worry that you will miss or forget anything. You don’t need to calculate the exchange rates because you will not use the national currency. Beautiful beaches, swimming pool, drinks, shops, luxury places and architecture of the historic cities will remain in your memory if you are prepared to pay high prices and leave big tips.
Cuba for travellers who like comfort
Taxi drivers fight for you in front of the airport to drive you to the casa particular which you have reserved in advance or to a cheaper hotel. The locals are really nice (at least one in a family can speak English) and you have the feeling they could do anything for you. They are happy to advice you where you can shop, what to see and visit. You can have a dinner like for a king for 8CUC/person with any meat you want, veggies and fruits. A bathroom is small but there is a toilet seat and shower with warm water (sometimes you can get a electric shock when you try to adjust the heater). After some time walking in the streets you get annoyed by all the bicitaxi drivers and other amigos but sometimes is good to use their services. You can listen to the traditional music at Casa de la Trova with another tourist (some “nice” local guy will lead you there because he is “accidentaly” also going there). It can be a little confusing if you get change for coffee or ice cream in local currency. You see all the “must see” places with organised trips or on your own in new buses with air condition or you rent a car (it’s quite expensive here). You visit tobacco and coffee fields, cigar factory, go for a horse back ride in the mountains or have a ride in a stylish old cab. Sometimes you are scared that there is toilet seat missing or no water at the bathroom in restaurant. After you return home you will have nice memories for this vacation but a lot of different feelings about the unfair regim and sad lifes of people (especially those families having casa particular), who cannot find a good job and don’t have opportunities. For average cost of 40EUR/day (without the plane ticket) you still think that this exotic holiday was worth it.
Cuba for discoverers – locos (crazy guys)
From the airport you take a colectivo or taxi somewhere to the city because you haven’t reserved any casa particular. After get accomodation in one of them you soon realize that some of the guys in their fully furnitured homes with big TVs and many things are really not honest and you try to avoid them. In 10minutes at the street you are really annoyed by all the taxi and bicitaxi drivers who don’t understand that you can use your feet for walking and all the amigos offering cigars, rum or other things who don’t understand the sentence “I don’t want anything, thank you!”. You try to excape the city as soon as possible and move further by local buses (trucks remade to buses), by train, hichhiking or on bicycle. On the first day you find the coffee on the street for 1peso and the sandwiches for 3 and you see the big difference in prices for locals and tourists. Always when possible you use the national currency which you exchange in banks or with local people. You realize that the cuban discos with latino music full of locals dancing salsa are possible to see only in Dirty dancing 2 and that the young people listen pop, rock and the same mainstreem than anywhere else in the world. Mostly you sleep at some good people’s homes or camp in their garden. You know that in bathroom you can expect only a bucket with water and no shower, there are no toilet seats and it’s a big surprise if there’s a toilet paper. You fall in love with the nice honest people who are so helpful, smiling and happy with their life. Almost nobody speaks English, but everybody wants to listen and to understand your “Tarzan” Spanish. You don’t visit the cigar factory because a a guy at who’s house you sleep rolls you one from his own tobacco. Also you don’t buy Cohiba but smoke the same cigars as normal Cubans because they taste same, difference is only how they are rolled (1 Cohiba 3CUC, normal cigar 1peso). You eat mostly a pan con jamon, pizza at the street or rice with beans and chicken. You don’t eat many other vegetables in the salads than tomatos. You see big difference between life in the city and life in the villages. In the cities you are paranoid when somebody starts to talk ti you because you await that at the end he will want something from you. You discover the simple beauties in Cuba which are too ordinary or hidden for others. After you read the guidebook you realize that you haven’t seen much of the “must see”. When you return home you are amazed from the great people, how cheap Cuba is and how much it offers. But you also know that there are many limitations, lack of information and that the difference between normal poor and the rich people is getting bigger. Knowing all this and having in your memory all the beautiful moments with the normal Cubans who live their simple life without much money and things – you have to ask: How much a human needs to be really happy?
Little thoughts on socialism
After reading the Castro’s self defence at the court in 1953 (The history will absolve me) will many people think that everywhere in the world is such a revolutionary needed. The goals which he was fighting for (education and healtcare for free, enough work and food for everybody, accomodation rent according to your income, no corruption…) should be matter of course in every country. At the beginning it was like that – enough of food, possibilities to travel, studying abroad, no corruption… All rich left the country (voluntarily or by force) and the population formed only one class – lower middle class. Everybody had equal and everybody was satisfied.
Now after 50years of this regim it’s not much better than a half century ago (one of the reasons is for sure the embargo of USA). Cuba has been stagnating and the golden times when there was enough of everything and it was cheap had passed and now things are missing and they are expensive. State is trying to earn money from the tourism but the tourist bring their iPods, notebooks and branded things and indirectly show the locals what they cannot afford. The growing capitalism creates big differences between the pour and the rich. Young people want freedom, work, internet, possibility to travel and properties. These things are not available in Cuba and maybe it will not take much longer before the unsatisfied people will go to the streets. It’s normal for human race to want more, but the fact is that people living in the villages and who don’t have much money, smile more :)