My buddy (business associate) and I had some business commitments in Cancun for 4 days. Since we both hate Cancun with a passion, and with 5 free days before we had to return to the states we began work on getting out of there as soon as we could. We wanted to go somewhere where we've never been, and of course, a place with beautiful women. We had 3 prerequisites that needed to be filled: 1) Beautiful women, 2) Good cigars, 3) Not a lot of time wasted in travel. Especially due to work commitments we had to return back to Cancun before returning to the states. Because Columbian, and especially Venezuelan, women are drop dead gorgeous that was our first choice. But, we have an equal love and passion for cigars, so the Dominican Republic or Honduraas would have been the more logical choices. OK...possible locations defined...lets check the net for travel times. Fuck, fuck, fuck, and fuck...all flights out of Cancun would kill at least 2 days just in travel, in some cases, routing us through Miami. Everyone in life experiences moments of greatness. This happened to be my buddy's time, "Havana, Cuba". Great idea! *BUT*, does it fit our prerequisites? 1) Women-if you have never been to Miami, or don't know any Cuban women, you don't know what you are missing. Cuban women are probably one of the hottest women walking the face of this planet, 2) Cigars-Da' BEST!!!, now let's check the net again, 3) Travel-Flight time 1 hour (actually, 50'30" wheel-to-wheel), with a 1 hour time difference. A round trip flight (AeroCaribe) that leaves Cancun at 10:10am and a return flight that leaves Cuba at 9:00am (that would give us time to finish up business in Cancun and catch our 12:30pm return flight to the states) for $246.75. ***FUCKIN BITCH'N!!!*** Now it's mid-morning and we are in my office (business dress code), with the door closed (although the entire wall and door is glass and everyone can see in), and we are scream'n and high-five'n. Then he jumps on me and I catch him like we're a guy and a girl doing it in the stand up position. Not a pretty sight...but who the fuck cares. Now we know there are restriction for US Citizen to go to Cuba, but we also knew that people have gone. Called our travel agent. Yes, she confirmed the flight, but is restricted from booking or ticketing the flight. She gave me the number in Mexico, where I can book the flight myself, and pay for it when I got to Cancun. Travel Considerations (from US citizens perspective): I am not really going to discuss the controversy regarding US citizens that want travel to Cuba. But, if the state department has not approved your travel to Cuba, travel via Mexico or Canada. You will need to present your US passport when you pass through customs in Cuba. Just tell them *not* to stamp your passport. They will stamp a piece of paper and stick it in your passport. Then when you leave Cuba they will stamp it again. What you do with that paper is your own business...but I don't suggest sticking it to your forehead when you clear customs in the US. As a suggestion, I would bring a *certified* copy of your birth certificate in case you do get your passport stamped. All that is required for reentry into the US from Canada or Mexico is your b/c and ID. Also, you should always make 2 copies of your passport and D/L (one to leave at home and the other to take with you) in case you lose the originals. We actually met a guy in Cuba that was from the US that had his passport stamped at least 7 times, he said he didnt give a f***. Cuba was the only reason why he got his passport. Safety Issue: In sharp contrast to its appearance Havana is very safe. There is police presence everywhere. It is almost like the police treat Cubans like second class citizens. There was several times when our "guide" was called over by the police and his papers checked. We were never hassled. The police really protect foreign tourists... dollar spending tourists. Monetary Issue: Leave your US issued credit cards and travelers checks in your wallet. They will not be accepted. However, you can purchase Thomas Cooke traveler checks in the United States. These are backed by a foreign financial institution. Call 800-223-7373 to find out where is the nearest TC office, or to order checks directly. The 3 forms of currency being used in Cuba are the US dollar, the Cuban dollar, and the Cuban peso. Forget the peso. For a tourist it will get you on a bus or to make a local phone call, that's about it. A Cuban dollar is the same as a US dollar, just looks different. Hotels: There are a lot of decent hotels in Havana from $30-$170 per night. Problem is they will not allow you to bring women into the hotel. Not even with the 'ol "mordida", except on rare occasions. Not to worry all the women will know of a "casa particular", private home, that you can rent ($10). Or, if you like, you can move out of the hotel and rent a full apartment for yourself ($20-$35 per day). These casas particulares will vary with amenities so check out a couple before making your decision and pay it for a day at a time. I hear the goverment plans on making some changes regarding this practice. Basically, they are trying to get them licensed so the government can collect some some money. Restaurants: Like casa particulares, the fall and reduced aid from Communist Russia has forced many people to become more capitalistic to survive. "Paladars", which is a small restaurant (usually 4-5 tables), operate out of people's home. Many paladars have become quite famous and quite honestly they serve some of the best food that I had while in Cuba.. Again, the government is trying to regulate this practice. Other Interesting Notes: Havana, despite the appearance of some of its buildings and streets is very clean (much cleaner streets than in Mexico). These people are very proud people. It looks like progress just stopped, but time kept on marching on. There are a lot of US cars late 50's cruising the road. You would think that after more than 30 years of colaboration with Communist Russia you would see a physical presence or influence of Russian culture in Cuba. But, except for a few hard goods (tv's, cars, etc.) you notice very little of Russia's presence. As a matter of fact, you see a lot of teenagers walking around with clothes, sunglasses, shoes that indicate a strong association with American culture. These people may be poor, but they are definitely rich in happiness, warmth, and friendliness. Oh, I forgot to mention...you will need to get a Cuban tourist visa (when you purchase your ticket) for $15. You will also need to pay a Cuban airport tax of $15 when you leave Cuba. =========================================================================== Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 15:26:59 -0400 (EDT) Subject: RE:your comment on us citizens in cuba concerning your comment in the havana faq you said that u.s. citizens are not allowed to go to cuba, well the cuban authorites seem to have no problem with u.s. citizens going to cuba; they normally go from nassau, bahamas as there are no flights to cuba out of the u.s., but the downside to it is that u.s. customs really gets pissed off if you go there and they see the stamp. I however am a lucky one i am a dual citizen (canada and united states) so all i do is use my canadian passport when i visit havana. i do live in ft.lauderdale and i go to nassau and then to havana. but i have used my u.s. passport once and customs yelled at me for going there. so now i tend to go either from montreal or nassau depending on where I am.
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