Academic Master


My first trip to Cuba after 5 years of living in Miami

During my first seven days of the trip, after five years of living in Miami to Cuba, the most difficult thing was a 13-hour flight and a queue at customs. On the way out there will be even more, there, you have to show this yellow leaflet with information about where you stayed in Cuba, and still pay 25 cuc (Cuban convertible pesos) for leaving the country. And I will tempt to say, they say, sorry, but I do not have any money in any currency – do not let me out of the country, please. But now it’s still a week, and it’s better to fly to Havana on Monday. You leave the doors of Jose Marti International Airport, the heat immediately hugs you like a big Cuban mother, and taxi drivers offer to take you to the center for 25 cuc flies like flies. If you do not hurry, stand firmly on 15 cuc if you are tired and want to quickly be in the city at 20 cuc. Knowledge of Spanish, at least at the lowest level, such as “ola!”, “Densely thick,” “gracias,” and addresses Casa/hotel are big pluses in your wallet. However, by resorting to English, gestures, and body language, you can also achieve a result, and sometimes, among the population “for 50,” there are more English speakers than English was taught in universities. And yet in Spanish, even the most broken and slow, is better.

The language barrier, first of all, divides all “citizens of visitors” into “tourists,” which can be at wild prices of cigars, rum, girls, and lobsters because they come for girls and lobsters and willingly respond to the first “My Friend” on the street. And there are “extranjeros” or “viaheros” – foreigners, travelers – who do not shout from Malone, that “Rush ruululit!”, Do not throw coins of 1 cuc with local musicians with the demand “go ahead, fry” commandant che Guevara “and not walk the streets of the Vedado district in beach clothes, we will be among them. Before, I move ahead with my entire story about my trip I would like to introduce myself; I am Anay a 27-year-old Cuban Cienfuegos, but I live here in the U.S. with my husband and my little boy Alejandro who has just turned the third year of his life. I have come back to my country after spending five years in Miami, USA, with my husband and son.


So, we took a taxi – for the “twenty”, it is quite modern and air-conditioned, and after talking with the driver we are moving to the place of dislocation. To change money is possible in any place with an inscription casa de Cambio. A couple is at the airport, the rate is almost the same everywhere – 1: 1 for dollars, for the euro 1: 1.3. In Cuba, two types of currencies are in circulation – the “valuable” convertible peso cuc, which will be needed to pay for housing, restaurants, taxis, entrance to concerts and other “expensive” cases, and “peso,” or cup – it calculates the cost, say, in fruit markets or in local “shuttles.” It makes sense to immediately ask for 10 cucs to give you in the “non-violence”; it will be approximately 240 cups.

Where to stay in Havana – in a hotel or in a hotel – is your business, but the walls of the hotel – this is another barrier between you and the Cubans, while casa, particular, is the most desired “immersion” in culture and life. Casa Particular is a house that is owned by a local landlord/hostess, but according to its condition and layout, it is brought to the standard for the resettlement of foreigners. To confirm compliance with fairly high requirements, the inspectors regularly inspect, after which the commission issues a certificate to the owners for work with tourists. Above the door hang a sign – a blue “anchor.” The same, only red, denotes the kasha for the local, without a license to work with “extraneous”. The average price of the helmet in the most convenient areas for travelers – Vedado, Miramare, Old and Central Havana (Abana Vieja and Centro Abana) – varies from 20 to 40 cookies per day for a room, that is, if you have a companion, the figure should be divided into two. Breakfast, as a rule, is not included, but it is always possible to agree with the owners that you will be tasty at home with local food. By eight o’clock, at the very least, having arranged things and hastily rinsed in the warm (for a day in the tanks the water decently warmed up) to the soul, we went out to the promenade.


Tea in Cuba is unpopular: although it is believed that it is drunk “in the best houses of Philadelphia,” it is a strange drink for tourists. But Turkish coffee, cooked with a lot of sugar, is an obligatory part of the morning ritual. If you take the Ellada de Coco in half a coconut for 10 national pesos and eat it on your own balcony, looking at the windows of the house opposite, listening to the music of the streets and squinting from the sun, which literally slaps on the vertex – it will be a really good morning of a new day in Havana.

It is better to use the day to look around and assimilate – at least, take a walk around your neighborhood to understand where they are selling and where they are going. Then you can go to the same Abana Vieja – the most picturesque and protected by UNESCO. At Obispo-Rabat, a little further from the Florida hotel (not to be confused with the Floridita bar at the other end of the street) to the right is a kiosk with maps of Cuba and, in particular, its capital.

Concerts are available in two formats – “matinE”, from 17:00 to 21:00 (sometimes – to 22), and “an acne” from 23:00 until about 03:00. Further, in search of adventure, you can move to the night Malecon, and at the end of the week – go dancing in Dos gardenias or Tres medals (before 9 am).


Cuba is rich in regular beaches – with transparent turquoise water, palm trees, white sand, and a minimum of tourists. A plunge into such a “bounty” is possible at Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Romano, Cayo Guahaba, and on Juventud, or the island of Youth – it’s enough to come to one of the many tour-centers scattered around large hotels, and book a trip. The one-day flight, with departure by domestic airlines at seven in the morning, will cost 200 cuc. You will be attached to the group and will be carefully transported, fed, skated, taught to snorkel, and given pictures of turtles, iguanas, and starfish.

If you do not have the extra 200 cuc, you can go on your own to the Oriental Beaches, which are 18 kilometers from Havana. The ocean in Cuba is good everywhere. Before Playas del Este (Playas del Este) can be reached from Parque Central – on a quite comfortable bus for 3 cuc, a stop opposite the monument to Jose Marti. The bus with the inscription Playa departs about every half hour, and the last one comes from the beach at 18:00. If the company is large, it is quite possible to fork out a taxi. A trip on a rare Chevrolet, which for us – a cinematic retro, and for Cubans – requires a permanent repair of reality – from the same Parke Central will cost about 10-15 cookies depending on your talents competently negotiate. With a driver who, upon request, takes you to the lively Tropicoco or more secluded Los Pinos, you can immediately agree on how much you would like to return to the city.


While we are going through the “physical ball for girls” at school physical education classes, and we are skillfully mastering skis, the Cuban children are obliged to teach dances. Yes, and “extra-curricular” classes are enough – the desire to move yourself to the music is supported in the child from the moment he gets to his feet. Plus, let’s not forget that children copy adults – and if any family holiday with grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles inevitably ends with reggaeton, the dance becomes quite an ordinary part of leisure.

Therefore, for years, say, to 20, every second Cuban considers himself an almost professional dancer, and every third is sure that he can teach dance. For sure, with the “professors” of all stripes, you will meet already at the evening concerts at concerts – you will be noticed in dance attempts of varying degrees of awkwardness and will be offered to teach real salsa, sleep, rumba, and reggaeton. You can succumb to provocation at your own peril and risk, but not every Cuban, even if he really is a dancer from God, is able to convey his skills to a European student and “stir” the Russian body. Separate “chamber” schools with really talented teachers meet at Obispo, Empedrado, and Avenida del Prado. It will be superfluous to connect to the search for the owners of your mantle – first explaining as clearly as possible that you need Esquel de Bayles with diplomaed choreographers, and not, say, a cousin who perfectly dances salsa, taught three of them and everyone was happy.


By the end of the week, the acclimatization is over, and we have almost merged with the landscape – it is at this point that we should indulge in tourist joys and visit several places from the list of “mast is.” Variants of mass – you can go to one (or several) port fortresses, which protected Havana from the real “Pirates of the Caribbean” in the troubled XVI-XVII century. From the fortress El Morro, you have a spectacular view of Malecon and Havana “on the other side of the mirror,” and on La Cabaña you can take a closer look at the “Cuban Christ” – the second largest in Latin America after the famous Brazilian. And even daily, at exactly 21:00, in this fortress, they are fired from a cannon. The action occurs with a costume ceremony, a guard – and an entrance on eight cuc from the nose. Once upon a time, the cannon volley signaled that the port was closing – between the fortresses pulled a chain so that the unwanted “Black Pearls” did not slip at night. Now, a shot from the cannon signals that it’s time to put yourself up for a night party.

Another place to visit is Columbus Cemetery, Semeterio de Colon, which is the most beautiful, full of light sadness, white marble, and luxurious statues in the world. It still functions, but has already turned into a huge open-air museum – the entrance costs 5 cuc. It’s better to go there for two or three hours to wander, take a look at the tombs of the Spanish noblemen drowning in the greenery, and read the “parting words” on the plates. Lorca, so to speak, is poured into the air.


While there is money and free time, it is worth buying souvenirs. In the city, shops do not do this because it is all pretty “typical,” and buying with hands or on small razvalchakah – means buying at a high price. Of course, if you have something concrete to the heart and the money is allowed, you have to take it on the spot – or there is a great chance that you will not find it anywhere. But when it comes to two or three kilograms of magnets, beads, statuettes, maracas, drums, t-shirts, bags, and baseballs for relatives, friends, and colleagues – you have a direct road to the souvenir port market, it’s the Mercado de Los Subeniros or Almacenes San Jose on Avenida del Puerto – a phrase that is worth talking bisitaksistu.

In addition to all of the above, you can see pictures of numerous contemporary artists and even buy yourself a couple for a similar price. You can also plait, braid half ahead, and drink coconut juice with rum while contemplating the ocean. As for prices, read the recommendations above and bargain, mercilessly bargain!


Kayejon de Hamel is an art object the size of a street. The Cuban artist Salvador Gonzalez Escalona painted and decorated this impasse in Central Havana. A riot of colors, ambiguous inscriptions, hanging dolls, mocked mannequins, and old iron baths diced in half instead of benches—the uninitiated will not immediately guess that all Kayejon is nothing more than a tribute to the Afro-Cuban culture and, in particular, its religious component, as a Santeria.

Works Cited

De Carolis, Berardina, et al. “Generating Comparative Descriptions of Places of Interest in the Tourism Domain.” Proceedings of the Third ACM Conference on Recommender Systems – RecSys ’09, 2009, p. 277, doi:10.1145/1639714.1639767.

Sharpley, Richard, and Martin Knight. “Tourism and the State in Cuba: From the Past to the Future.” International Journal of Tourism Research, vol. 11, no. 3, 2009, pp. 241–54, doi:10.1002/jtr.685.



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