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A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

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A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

I went some weeks ago with my mate to Cuba. We were too enthusiastic and wanted to see the reality of a country that has an unique history and the romantic idea of a left political system.

We are not all-inclusive or beach people. So we decided to travel on our own and stay in 'casas particulares'. After 2 days in La Havana we were in shock: the romantic 50's cars that populate the streets produce a terrible atmospheric pollution, almost unbearable; the once beautiful buildings were falling in pieces, a general sensation of abandonment that was absolutely scary; a complete lack of alternatives (shops, cafés, restaurants) outside the touristic areas; and many etceteras.

But the worse was the harassment of people offering touristic services, the sensation of being continuously scammed (1,2,5 CUC) and be trapped in organised networks (eg, the casa with the taxis and the tours), without the possibility of getting reliable information and comparing alternatives... without any chance of getting Internet or phone...

I'm not naive, we knew it was Cuba and observing the reality by ourselves was part of the trip's objectives. I just recall in the state of abandonment and deterioration that makes the country vulnerable... Let's say, could Cuba recover from an earthquake like the one of Haití? Beyond natural hazards, a forthcoming social/economic change can be expected, what will happened then? The insertion in global economy will happen sooner or later and Cuba is absolutely not prepared to participate in the 'cruel-real-world' markets.

Certainly we didn't see the extreme poverty that characterises Latin American countries. But the inequality is there, in peoples mind and behaviours, Despite of half of century of communism, the hospitality workers seem to believe that tourists expect a masters-and-servants relationship, the double-currency, the acid criticism to the 'capitalists-outsiders', all that is there, as if the colonialism hasn't disappear, at least in the discourse.

Also the macho-culture, the fact that Cubans look and say things to women (even accompanied tourists) denotes that the revolution didn't bring a more gender equality. Compared to China, for instance, where I have never felt uncomfortable.

Anyway, as a Latin American myself, I have many things to reconsider about the left-alternative, democracy, freedom and ideology.

What I can say to the others: if you come from a cold country or you are looking for all-inclusives, fun, etc., go to Cuba and close your eyes to the outside reality. Of closing your eyes makes you unhappy, consider as well other beautiful Latin American countries that might been even cheaper.

But if you are an independent traveler and wanna test the romantic idea of Cuba by yourself, try to organise everything beforehand, because it's impossible to do it there and book-guides are not enough.

And if you are a Latin American and have no much money, consider it twice, 'cause the CUC system made everything more expensive than our own countries.

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

You raise some excellent points. I think where some of your comparisons fall short is trying to compare costs to other Latin countries though... that fails on two accounts... you can't compare a Caribbean Island to mainland costs nor can you compare Cuba's highly subsidized economy to others...

Cuba certainly isn't for everyone though, that's for sure.

Cheers,

Terry

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

When you say "my last trip" - how many times have you been there?

Certainly many people if not doing any prior research do get a surprise at travelling costs in Cuba c.f. to some other Caribbean locales. Certainly not a back packing destination - don't know though what countries in latin america you are comparing it to? But if you could afford to travel to China from latin america I am surprised you personal found Cuba an economic stretch.

" try to organise everything beforehand, because it's impossible to do it there and book-guides are not enough"

Not sure what you mean by that. Many independent travellers do precisely that on their first and subsequent trips i.e play it by ear but with the back-up of sound research/preparation even from guidebooks LOL!

Edited: 26 April 2013, 08:02
3. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

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Europe
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4. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

Cuba is not for everybody. It has its challenges, for sure. But I think it is with Cuba like it is with most countries you visit: some things you like , some things you do not like , ...and in the end you "do the maths". Does it come out with more negative points than positive, ..well, .....no reason to go back,.. is there ?

Personally I do not like Mexico,.. for some reasons, ......there you go :-)

Edited: 26 April 2013, 10:27
Havana, Cuba
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5. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

Cubas crumbling beauty, complicated economic system, the forma de ser of Cubans - part of which means they're not shy and will approach anyone, both male and female - the lack of Western goods on every corner, even the lack of communication, are all points that make other people absolutely love Cuba. For being one of very few destinations left in the world today with it's own unique feel. As opposed to just a warmer or colder version of some branch of America.

It's not for everybody. Too bad it wasn't for you.

"go to Cuba and close your eyes to the outside reality."

-----

Or open them up and get a different impression than yours.

"Let's say, could Cuba recover from an earthquake like the one of Haití?"

-----

About 50 times faster than Haiti would be my guess.

Picton, Canada
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6. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

" 50's cars that populate the streets produce a terrible atmospheric pollution"

There have been huge improvements on this point.

I started traveling regularly to Havana 10 years ago.These days the air is "country fresh" compared to those days.

Loch Arbour, New...
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7. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

A good example of why some people should go with a tour group rather than travel independently. And obviously not doing enough prior research.

Sorry you had such a bad experience. Hope your travels to other countries in the future are more pleasant.

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

Emphasise on "some". Horses for courses?

9. Re: A bit dissapointed in my last trip to Cuba

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