Live, from Havana… a few thoughts… | Debbie's Caribbean Resort Reviews Forums

martian Guest Some random thoughts, in no particular order…Caught a super cheap deal direct from Calgary to Havana, staying in the dump Terrazas Atlantico Islazul on the eastern beaches. $486 for 8 days, all taxes in. Incredible price.

I posted the deal here and a couple of hours later the lovely and vivacious "Janet" dropped me a line and a week later we were flying to Havana together. She had a great time at the resort/beach and I had a riot in Havana, we met again on the flight going home. Thanks Janet!

The new regulations allowing private enterprise are turning the economy upside-down, but as predicted the new businesses are failing as fast as they’re starting. With no support from the government in terms of start-up loans or even more importantly independent suppliers plus a general lack of business knowledge many of the new vendors are doomed before they even begin. Too bad because many of these businesses would be a boom for the tourist industry.Super, super cheap meals available more easily than ever – you can get stuffed with semi-decent food for 2 CUC including a beer.Super, super cheap transport too. The old American classics held together with spit and a prayer are everywhere, running on fixed routes and foreigners are no longer an issue. 10 CUP (we’re talking less than 50 cents Canadian) will get you anywhere in the city. Even running from downtown all the way out to the eastern beaches is only 20 CUP – less than a dollar.It’s easy to rent a taxi for less then 40 CUC/day, including fuel. If you go outside the city limits then of course you need to buy some fuel every now and then.One of the raunchiest discos in Vedado – at the end of La Rampa, right by the Malecon – is a kid’s disco on Sundays. The place was packed! Too frigging funny.Decent 4 bedroom/3 bathroom private house in an upscale neighbourhood with swimming pool and full-time cook/maid/security can be had for less than 250 CUC/day. Great option for three couples or a family with a bunch of kids – way better bang-for-the-buck than any hotel.Loads of independent American travellers, more than I’ve noticed before. As always they’re fabulous people – informed, common sense, hipster travellers ignoring the silly blockade and blowing every dumb American stereotype out of the water. Met two groups of Americans travelling legally, staying at the Park Central Hotel… the propaganda they’re being fed is mind boggling… can’t comment further here…Weird dichotomy of upbeat, positive vibes everywhere, tempered by some real desperation, more than I’ve seen in a few years. The usual crimes of opportunity like purse snatching, pick pocketing and simple thievery are worse than ever. Maybe it’s just that Christmas is around the corner but there are lots of places where a normal single traveller has no business being at night, and for that matter not during the day either unless they’re using common sense and the usual street smarts.The new real estate laws have caused insane speculation that’s completely out to lunch. The laws don’t actually change anything – they simply legalize what existed under the table before – but the value that some people are putting on dumps is endlessly amusing.There’s some great deals to be had with some of the local tour operators. Excursions from Havana to Cayo Levisa and Cayo Largo were very inexpensive.In 6 rum purchases 3 of them were counterfeit, and this was in 5 different establishments. (The seals were broken and the bottles filled with who-knows-what.) Maybe I was just unlucky or perhaps I’m looking like a dumb yuma even more than usual… I suspect the latter.You can get two full kegs of beer delivered, iced and a guy from the distributor to stay and operate/serve for less than $100 CUC. That’s a pretty good deal considering it’s almost 1,000 cups of beer. Of course it’s the CUP swill so it’s good to warm-up with a few of the usual Cristal and Bucanero.I can’t begin to keep up with all the new paladars. No time to check-out any of the newer high-end ones this time, but I’ll make it my mission in the New Year. We hit one in Centro (Concordia and San Francisco) that is hands-down the best bang-for-the-buck I’ve ever found in Cuba. Great dinners x 4 was 11 CUC.The water in Havana was oddly clear and clean looking. On the eastern beaches it was a mess.My Spanish is steadily deteriorating or the locals are using even more slang, colloquialisms and generally horrible pronunciation than ever before. What a joy it is to travel elsewhere in Latin America where they speak real Spanish – or perhaps I simply need to start hanging out with a classier crowd. That said, learned many new dirty phrases, some of them gut-busting hilarious.The rock/rap alternative scene is bursting at the seams. Much of it is still illegal but gigs are easy to find and police are turning a blind eye more than ever. Even the silly emo kids are out in full force although they don’t quite understand any of the classic emo jokes yet…The burgeoning middle class has embraced pure breed dogs, pimp-my-ride car accessories and real mattresses. The last one is a revelation.All and all a nice (but very short) last-minute warm up to an extended escape starting in a few weeks.

Cheers everyone.

eloisegirl Senior Member

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Everytime you post something like this, we all beg you to write a book. Well…. this is me, begging you to write a book.

Also, feel free to PM me the filthy palabras because that is usually a highlight for me!!! Nothin’ funnier than a blonde gringa rapid firing off rude Spanish.

Martian, your continued generosity in sharing your comments about Cuba, and Havana in particular, are invaluable. Thanks!

Someone suggested I add my comments about the Cdn Embassay in Havana (which I made under the Cigar Aficianado thread) here in Martian’s post. Those of you who have already seen them can stop reading now.

I must share our impressions of the "Polar Bar and Grill" last Friday evening. I had emailed the contact at the Cdn Embassy and found out the pertinent facts about the event as we planned to attend. In my email I mentioned that my dh and I would be arriving at 5:30 but had to leave by 6:30 p.m. in order to get back to our resort. When we arrived, the guard at the gate was most friendly. We presumed he was Cuban and were impressed with how cordial he was. This delightful attitude, unfortunately, did not duplicate itself in the rest of the Embassy staff. We were neither greeted nor welcomed by a staffer. Remember that I had specifically emailed an Embassy employee and informed him we would be there at the start. Of the few men who were there, one must surely have been my ‘contact’. Did he come over and meet us? No! Nor did any of the other six staffers who were preparing supper and drinks. It was not as if this would have been an inconvenience for any of them. There were few people there in that first hour and no one from the Embassy made any effort to be hospitable. This is shameful in our opinion. It is very interesting to note that the only people with whom my dh and I conversed were a high-up official and his wife from the Chilean Embassy in Havana who came for the ‘best burgers’ in Havana. We spent a delightful 45 minutes conversing with them and were impressed with how approachable and friendly they were in comparison to our Embassy employees. It is certainly a sad state of affairs when one is embarrassed by the representatives of one’s own government while abroad!

If you have coffee at the embassy they serve Coffee-Mate instead of cream. Well, at least they did for me…I would call it the Canadian Emb(era)ssy, but I might need them sometime. HEY RAINBOW.. Need a travelling companion/bodyguard?

🙂 Bigjohn.

I figured out this afternoon that our upcoming spring visit will be our 11th time to Cuba. Martian, you have given me more insight (and smiles) into the country than any other source. I look forward to reading your stories.
Thank you.

Implement things take times. The country needs foreign investments. Every countries want to do their own ways at the same time want big carrots. Who to blame!!!!

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