“?? So you travel to Cuba, what is it really like, what should I expect ??”
Hands down this is the most popular question that I get from travelers and travel agents alike.
Hope that what is shared will be helpful.
- Cuba has a 99% literacy rate, the citizens are polite, opinionated, intelligent and astute. Conduct yourself accordingly.
- Cuba is a Socialist country, governance begins at the street level (CDR), and builds upward.
- The official language is Spanish. In Cuba, Spanish is spoken rapidly. A few people speak English and other languages too, however Spanish is the official language.
- Please do not complain. You are a guest and you want be greeted warmly.
- Cuba has enjoyed a robust tourism market for decades, hosting visitors from around the world. U.S. citizens welcome to the party, expect to have a good time!
- The sights, smells, sounds, are different, appreciate the difference.
- Socialism coupled with the absence of drugs and guns results in a relatively safe tourist destination.
- Like everywhere in the world watch your person in crowds.
- Yes prized electronics walk away when left unattended.
- Vintage cars, new cars, new buildings, old buildings all command your attention in the architectural landscape.
- Of course Cubans wear new clothes, have flat screen televisions and appreciate modern technology.
- Some restaurants have great food and others do not. Do your homework, get suggestions.
- This is not the time to be cheap, tip everyone generously. The driver, waitperson, housekeeper, baggage handler, tour guide, etc., salaries are low, the 15% gratuity is very much appreciated.
- Be a good neighbor, bring a small gift, i.e. flash drives, school or office supplies. The country has endured a U.S. blockade for over 5 decades (50+ years). The economic impact is extreme and extensive.
- Again, tip generously. Make budget adjustments accordingly.
- Cuba is a Caribbean country, the climate is tropical, the temperature is hot.
- Air conditioning is a premium. Many places have it and many do not. You will not melt. Lovely hand fans are available everywhere.
- Activity abounds, there is always something going on. Bring comfortable shoes, the sidewalks can be sketchy.
- Be prepared to walk, Cubans enjoy a pedestrian friendly lifestyle.
- There are stairs in many places, expect to climb them.
- Pack your needs, i.e. almond milk, hot sauce, honey, peanut butter, toiletries, public bathroom kit, etc.
- Check baggage weight limits and applicable fees in advance.
- Have an open mind. Indulge in the sights, smells, and sounds of the culture.
- A lot is offered, enjoy yourself, have a good time.