Havana, first and last city I visited during my trip to Cuba. I spent six out of 18 nights there. I walked around Old Havana and Central Havana for countless hours sweating profusely in the humid hot weather, saw Jazz and Salsa bands at night clubs, met a sociopath at the airport in Cancun who I spent a few days with, and got hit on by lots of prostitutes (Female and male. And trannies. And maybe a hermaphrodite or two). And did some cultural, touristy things in between while smoking cigar’s and sipping Cuban Rum.
If you are not renting a car you will need to exchange enough money to pay for the $25 CUC taxi ride into the city. There may be collectivos at the airport, but I didn’t look or notice. I was too overwhelmed figuring out where to exchange money (https://jezzywally.com/2015/12/05/cuba-coming-soon/).
I met one couple who rented a car in Havana. They said they went to five different rental car companies before finding one to rent. And the car they ended up renting was the last car on the lot. As of 2008, there are 38 cars on the road in Cuba for every 1,000 people living there. In comparison, there are 809 cars on the road for every 1,000 people living in the United States. Safe to say there are not many cars in Cuba. Be prepared to see a lot of horse’s outside of Havana, but in Havana cars rule the roads.
Havana is hot. One of the worst things about Havana is getting dressed. Make sure the room you rent has air conditioning. Same goes for other parts of the country. Every day I was there I walked six, seven, eight hours during the day, came home and my shirt would be covered with salt from sweating so much. Sexy, right?
I met a guy while in line for the flight in Cancun. He’d been to Havana once before and referred to my trip as “popping my cherry”. I wouldn’t say it was that dramatic or traumatic (however you want to look at it), but it certainly was interesting. When we landed in Havana he suggested we share a taxi and split the cost. We dropped his bags off first in the Miramar neighborhood where he was staying then we drove over to the Vedado neighborhood where my place was.
Booking a place to stay in Cuba from the United States proved challenging as there is no internet in Cuba. That’s right, kids. There is no internet in Cuba unless you want to pay $10CUC for six minutes. And seeing how minimum wage in Cuba is $10CUC per month, the Cuban people have no access to it. If you do decide to pay the fee to buy a WiFi card, you will still need to find a hot spot which there aren’t many of. Wave goodbye to your cell phone and WiFi, and enjoy getting off the grid while you’re there.
I found my room by e-mailing a guy named Jorge who ran a casa particulare in Vedado. Casa particulares are rooms for rent inside people’s homes. It became legal for Cuban’s to rent rooms in their homes about five years ago. Jorge said his rooms were booked, but his neighbor down the street had some availability. He told me to come to his house after getting off the plane and he would walk me over. I read that its nice and good karma and all that stuff if you ask Cubans if there’s anything you can bring them as they don’t have a whole lot of things over there. Jorge said his wife would love antacids and antibiotic ointment.
So the sociopath and I get dropped off at Jorge’s. He and his wife greet me with a smile and I greet them with antacids. Two bottles of antacids and a tube of neosporin. Jorge walks the sociopath and I over a block and a half and introduces us to Elena whose room I rent for four nights. The elevator didn’t feel like working when I arrived which was ok because I was staying on the second floor.
She walked us up to my room, said it would cost $35CUC per night (Jorge probably got $5CUC of that per night for the referral), breakfast would be an additional $5CUC per day (standard across the country) and said sometimes the water in the bathroom sinks runs and sometimes it doesn’t. When she showed me the bathroom the water wasn’t running. There was a water tank above the bath holding water to take a shower and three large plastic jars on the floor holding water you use for the toilet.
Every time you check into a home in Cuba the homeowner takes your passport to record your name, country, and passport number. When she was done she handed it back to me and asked for the money. I told her I still needed to exchange money. She told me I would need my passport to exchange money and directed me down the street. Every time you exchange money they record the same information. I’m sure some bureaucrat down the line from now will have all my information on a spreadsheet listing everywhere I stayed in Cuba as well as how much money I exchanged and where.
I don’t speak much Spanish and the homeowner spoke about a million words per minute only of which I understood basically none of. One thing she did ask me which I understood was if I wanted breakfast for one person or two. I thought that was odd since she knew I was staying there by myself. Apparently prostitution runs rampant in Havana for male tourists. The king size bed, which held the title of worlds worst bed until I stayed in Cienfuegos, had a huge mirror which served as the headboard. There was also a framed painting of a naked chick in the room. And now that I’m actually looking at it she has a Cindy Crawford look to her.
In fact, I just vomited a little bit thinking about whats happened on the bed I stayed in. Every night I was there a group of tranny hookers were across the street turning tricks. I spent four nights in a tranny hooker sex den with no running water. That’s a lie. The water sometimes worked. In the middle of the night my first night a noise from the bathroom woke me up. Water was shooting out of the faucet of the bathroom sink since it wasn’t turned off properly when the water wasn’t running. One morning when leaving for the day the building had a flood. There was water running down the stairs which nobody seemed to care about except me. The water that was supposed to be coming out of my bathroom sink was running down the stairs.
My first night I also saw multiple cockroaches running by my luggage on the floor. Two mornings later there was a dead one in the hallway outside of the unit I was staying in. When I came home later that day it had been kicked out into the stairwell. When I left to go out that night it had made its way to the lobby. When I came home that night it was gone. Life cycle of a cockroach in Cuba
The key chain she gave me had four keys on it. One was to enter and exit the front door of the building, the second was for the barred door which was in front of the front door to the apartment. The third key was for the front door of the apartment which lead into a hallway with three doors. The fourth key was to the room I stayed in. Every key chain I was given in Cuba had multiple keys and once you finally figured out which key went to what door it was time to move on to the next city. Fucking Cuba