I sighed as once more I yanked my shoes off before making my way slowly into the water. Stepping carefully, I made my way to the other side of the river, trying not to let the current knock me over. I emerged from the water onto the muddy bank and jammed my feet into my shoes. I’d given up on socks three crossings ago and there was no point in bothering to lace my shoes up tight, because just ahead I could see the trail descending to the river once again.
Imagine hiding out in the mountains, without electricity, running water, or a consistent food supply. It’s damp and chilly at times, and your hut is made only of thin slabs of wood and a thatched roof. Surrounding your hideaway are soldiers sent by your country’s military to ‘eliminate’ you. You live in a state of caution, immediately alert to sounds from outside of your camp, speaking only in whispers lest you give yourself away. And you’re doing this for more than a year.
“Eeet’s mees-teee,’ Maria says, “Eeet’s coooo.” She flashes a huge grin when I say yes, it’s misty and cool. We are talking about the top of the mountain, while we are waiting at the bottom of it for our ride. Here it is definitely neither misty nor cool, and the four of us have been loitering here for an hour already. There is no sign of any bus, but I am having a great time.
I didn’t find Cuba to be the easiest place to travel. Although things are changing fast, there are still difficulties in terms of availability of goods, customer service, and communications. So after spending 37 days in Cuba I feel like I have some advice to offer that will make your trip easier and more enjoyable! Read my Cuba travel tips and learn from my experiences for a great trip!
Before I went to Cuba I spent a long time trying to answer one question: As a solo traveler, what would be the cost of travel in Cuba for 37 days? I saw estimates everywhere from 25 CUC all the way up to 80 CUC per day! The real number fell somewhere in between those. Check out this article for a full breakdown of all my expenses in Cuba, as well as ideas on how I could have saved some money!
The girl emerged out of the darkness, clad in a bright orange 80’s style evening gown complete with puffy sleeves and long white gloves. She looked around nervously, and I gasped as I heard the opening piano notes. No, it couldn’t be. She raised the microphone and began to sing in a strong Spanish accent. “At first I was afraid, I was petrified….” It was, and I couldn’t stop laughing. This was Cienfuegos, and this was not what I had expected.
Transportation in Cuba can be complicated. There are lots of different options with pros and cons in terms of cost, speed, comfort, and convenience, and it can be mind-boggling to think about! I’m going to give you a breakdown of each method of independent travel in Cuba so you can decide for yourself!
It was a hot, sweaty affair, full of loud, throbbing rhythms and gyrating and twirling couples moving in perfect sync to the music. I was mesmerized by the seemingly choreographed maneuvers on the dance floor, marveling that they didn’t all bump into each other. I watched with my mouth wide open, stunned at the rhythm, coordination and beauty of what I was seeing.
The first few days I was in Cuba I spent not just sightseeing, but also just learning the ropes, the basic knowledge needed for traveling in this country. The things that are normally quite easy when we’re abroad, like simply getting money or connecting to wifi, are just not that simple in Cuba. So here’s your ultimate guide to the practicalities in Cuba.
The soft morning light was perfect, the lagoon still and quiet, and the calmness enveloped me, the only sounds those of the occasional bird calling and the oars gently splashing in the water. As we got nearer, the flamingoes started to move. In perfect sync they all put their heads in the air and started walking in the same direction, an army of long pink necks marching away from us.