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Anyone else experience this?

Toronto
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Anyone else experience this?

Just got back from varadero today. Went to Havana and bought some artwork from the market as I always do, and then was stopped from boarding the plane as they wanted to inspect my luggage (painting). After doing so, they asked for a reciept. I explained where I got it and that no reciept was given, where they then told me I had to pay 7 cuc. Now this isn't a lot of money, but it would've been nice to know i needed one and am confused why I've never needed one before.

After this trip, my 6th, I also noticed that everywhere I turned I was being told I needed to tip, put in positions on the excursions where you had to tip, and ignored if I didn't on the resort. Am I crazy or does it feel like varadero is now all about money? I was put off enough that this might be my last trip there.

Montreal, Canada
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3,246 posts
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1. Re: Anyone else experience this?

The 7 cuc charge for the artwork is standard policy. You could always put it in your checked luggage if it is non-squash-able.

From Aduna website ( I got this from an old posting of Mardi's)

"If you acquire fresh paintings and sculptures in the points where they are sold, make sure that they have the Seal which authorizes their Export or request the corresponding Permit indispensable requirement to take them out of the country."

As for being told that you need to tip, that is utter highway robbery. Next time they tell you that, go behind the bar and make your own drink. I've done it before. Why people put up with this kind of crapp is beyond me. More people should tell the manager that this is their last trip to Cuba.

Burlington, Canada
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6,060 posts
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2. Re: Anyone else experience this?

....go behind the bar and make your own drink.

I like that one CubaWaters! hahaha Can't say that the pressure to tip has ever gotten that bad for me yet, but if it ever does, I'm going to use that trick of yours. Good one! lol

Terry

Kuujjuaq, Canada
Destination Expert
for Prince Edward Island
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4,514 posts
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3. Re: Anyone else experience this?

Although some people can be pushy about tips, I never felt that I was being extorted or anything. I do agree that excursions tend to make it more awkward if you don't tip but just don't let it bother you. We tip for good service and we had a terrible excursion last year(we felt the driver and our guide actually blew off a museum we were suppose to visit because they wanted to get home sooner and maybe pocket the entrance fee to the museum that they were given). They were pushy in that they were holding out a basket as we were getting off the bus but we just smiled and said we had forgot to bring money with us. I've never seen them since and I doubt I ever will nor will they remember that so who cares if you have to endure 5 seconds of awkwardness.

Which resort did you stay at? It stands to reason tips are going to get you better service but it shouldn't eliminate it alltogether. I find a good policy is to leave a nice tip for the first round of drinks and just give another 2 or 3 CUCs throughout the night and you'll have great service. We made great friends with the bartender and he couldn't have been more attentive all week as a result. For 7 or 8 CUCs to have that kind of service all night it was well worth it, you'd tip more if you went out to the bars back home right? Having said that there were times we didn't tip and we still got great service, the tipping just made the difference of waiting in line or being a VIP to them.

Varadero has always been about the money, that is its sole purpose to the Cuban government and its workers don't kid yourself about that. At least with Cuba it's not like Dominican where they will actually get in your face and tell you off if you don't tip(g/f's parents went and were called cheap stupid Americans which is apparently an insult because they knew they were Canadian lol). It is no different anywhere you go for all inclusives and probably as bad if not worse at home. try not tipping at a bar some Saturday night and see if you ever get served in a timely manner.

Edited: 15 October 2011, 15:26
Toronto, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jibacoa
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3,005 posts
153 reviews
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4. Re: Anyone else experience this?

We have never been pushed to tip. At our favourite resorts we have been told "you are my friend no need to tip"...of course we do ...but there is no pressure we are tipping for excellent service.

Saskatchewan, Canada
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401 posts
24 reviews
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5. Re: Anyone else experience this?

I was aware that there was some requirement when taking art work out of the country but I didn't know the specifics. I'm not a shopper. It's up there with my least favorite activities when on vacation so I haven't brought anything like that home with me.

I did get pestered while on an excursion though. It was in Cayo Guillermo for the speed boat and snorkeling excursion. They take your picture not long after you leave the docks. I didn't care to have a picture of myself in a boat. However, when we got back to the docks, they were selling the pictures to the people on the excursion before you could get back onto the bus to take you back to the resort. I think the cost was 10 CUC. I said "no thank you" but we were hounded and asked three more times. They even lowered the price and then even other tourists were trying to get us to buy the picture because, well I'm not sure why they joined in on the pestering. It didn't make us feel too uncomfortable but I thought it was a weird experience. I don't give in to peer pressure.

SS from Saskatoon

Mississauga, Canada
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9,024 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: Anyone else experience this?

The art " tax " is old but the recent brutal enforcement is fairly new. ( need the $$$$ )

As for the tipping some people are becoming more and more pushy and a lot of it is our own fault. When we tourists bribe the the bar keepers for future service and then over tip to get preferred service instead of tipping accordingly for excellent service we get a lot of attitude.

It's kinda like the resort workers that hound you for your ipod , shoes , shirt , .......... I wonder why ????

LENNY

Montreal, Canada
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3,246 posts
143 reviews
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7. Re: Anyone else experience this?

Good point LENNY. Some over-tip with bribes and unfortunately some do not tip at all. Other folks get caught in the middle, not knowing what to do.

Edmonton, Canada
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204 posts
9 reviews
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8. Re: Anyone else experience this?

Slightly confused about the whole art thing...So If I have a reciept I won't get charged a "tax"? What is the seal and does anyone know what it looks like? Is the reciept that permit mantioned in #1?

Gibsons, B. C...
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978 posts
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9. Re: Anyone else experience this?

You must have the special tax seal (which costs 7 CUC) for every genuine painting. The receipt (ie. proof of what you paid for the art) is NOT the same thing as the export receipt. Only the most reputable dealers (ie. in galleries) will mention or offer it upon purchase. In most places (ie. the markets) the sellers say nothing, so you will have to ask. Try to negociate for the purchase price to include the export permission seal. And be sure to get the necessary receipt. We had a bad experience at Varadero airport over just this issue.

Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: Anyone else experience this?

I purchased a painting 18 x 24 size from the vendor at my hotel in Cayo LArgo a couple weeks ago. I asked about a receipt and was told "Not needed". He rolled it up for me and I placed it inside my checked baggage.

Was this not really allowed? Was I supposed to get some kind of receipt to show aduana? I included it in my delaration amount returning and was making NO attempt to hide it in any way either leaving Cuba or entering Canada. I have travelled to Cuba over 15 times and admit I do not know about this rule. I have purchased painting in DR exactly the same way .