Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Cuba Sum Up

Cuba is far from “green”, I really wanted to remember Cuba for the Cuban Coffee smell but the smell I will remember Cuba for is half burnt oily diesel from mostly worn out engines and bad tuning and maintenance, this one wasn't bad tho.

I have to admit I had visions of Cuba been somewhat cleaner understanding you jump into a time machine 60 years but the state of disrepair of a lot of vehicles is mind boggling and we saw first hand the fatal effects of this.

Understanding though it is a very poor country they are unfortunately severely handbraked by their communist leadership and antiquated ways making Cuba a real horse and cart country literally and to the detriment of the people which is saddening really.

My own opinion (and interestingly enough talking to others behind the scenes) next time they have a revolucion and a good idea the people should really be better off, not stagnated or in a lot of cases gone backwards.

We stayed in a combination of Casa Particulars which are home stays, everything from seriously basic no hot water etc to very nice indeed, across the board the Casa hosts were outstanding to say the least and were happy to help, only two Casas out of 18 we could not get a smile out of the owners and both were the only ones who really tried to change the ball game from what was agreed.

Our favourite was right on the sea edge down on the south coast and undoubtedly the most basic by far but the people were great, friendly and good to us, what more can you want?

Our favourite Casa hostess is in Vinales, she was awesome, bubbly, welcoming and a ray a light.

The grumble, only thing we didn’t really like about Cuba is the “Them and The Us’s”, the tourists get clobbered for prices around 10 x to 25 x the amount of locals, even buying petrol we were declined at two service stations with the guy saying ... it is complicated????WTF ... it seemed simple to us, empty car, paying customers with cash in hand, petrol station with petrol and empty forecourt .... what gives??

Also when buying churos the guy beside us paid $10 Pesos, we got the same as he did and we handed over $20 Pesos and they wouldn’t give us anything back saying that is the price and they just turned away so we were not there anymore .... in New Zealand that would end in a pubscrap!!!! .... we just had to accept it.

Getting money out was a half hour ordeal and quite a mission including handing of passports etc and more paper than you can fit in a wheelbarrow but at least we got cash and at $30 CUC/US per withdrawal you get as much as you can.

Most Cubans were great people but some were very snide and begrudging of us and particularly me being blonde like we owed them something, people everyday just saying “give me money” and being harassed for it took the shine off it a little, there are NO favours done here EVERYTHING means money, CUC or CUP you better have it as even asking for directions will cost you if you are soft and they will jump on you.

I will qualify that by saying if you are known to them or already an amigo (paying customer) they will go out of their way to help a little but 99% of the time they will put their hand out for more even after agreeing the value, across the board not the friendliest mob we have met in all of our international travels (not just this trip) as smiles are few and far between, when you smile at them they frown back .... hmmm.

Time, millions of man hours each day are just wasted, lining up for the bank, lining up for bread, lining up for buses they don't have money but they have time.

The highlight for me at least was seeing so many old cars on the road and of course the Urals, couple of Harleys and MZ stinkies (two strokes) everywhere so I will miss that zing buzz and ring ding ding sound, I would also add on the human side a lot of the Cuban woman with African genes/descent are very beautiful as well, without sounding like a freak-show stalker I was lucky enough to have my photo with a Casa lady (so I got to touch her without being.....odd) , she was very nice to us and made our stay outstanding... just in case you guys wonder what she felt like ....well ... just the same as us whiteyfoos , I will remember her smile.

Our favourite city is Trinidad and the best Pina Colada I had was here in the wakey wakey shakey shakey bar.

Our favourite road was undoubtedly was the south coast road goin 4 wheelin in the rental car.

My worst experience was obvious the Gastroenteritis which didn't really rate on my fun meter ..... me dead in bed.

The lowest Cuban people day was the nice guy who smeared mud all over our car ... can't understand the logic with the man as I was polite to him but he had it in for us.

Our impression of Cuban people is a lot of them live behind window bars in the background, this lady was dancing to music and having a great time with a huge smile which was very nice to see however a lot just mill around looking out to the street with a very distant look on their faces.

For us across the board we found it to be a great place, really enjoyed it and it certainly was and eye opener, we have now ticked that box and ready for the next mission should we choose to accept it ... which we do.

Back to being travelers not tourists....

1 comment:

Kristin Busse said...

I looked at ALL of your Cuba pictures and loved them! I have spent a lot of time there, but mostly in Havana. Thanks for showing me the rest. :)

Welcome back to Mexico!