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10 Things to Know About Cuba

When I received the assignment that I would be traveling to Cuba, I immediately thought to myself, “What will my life be like in Cuba for the limited time that I will be there?” As a boy growing up in Orlando, I had always heard of Cuba but never thought that one day I would be visiting. In fact, as a boy growing up just a little over 90 miles from south Florida, I thought it was impossible.

 

As I began preparing my travel, my top ten lists fell into place. I hope this list helps you prepare to either go to Cuba or get to know Cuba in a new way.

 

  1. You don’t just show up in Cuba.

Although the borders are beginning to open in new ways, getting to Cuba is not like going to most places. You will need to be sure you have applied for your passport and filled out the proper visa paperwork.

  1. Once your visa and passport is ready, securing an airline ticket is relatively cheap compared to most countries.

As of today, many airline companies do not fly to Cuba, so only a handful of airline choices are available.

  1. Hotel space is limited.

A traveler cannot just go on hotel.com and find a hotel space. The best thing to do is contact a travel agent and give them the responsibility of securing your hotel. Even better, if you know someone in Cuba, I would focus on that route to get to know the country better.

  1. Prepare yourself to be in the minority.

Moving through the airport in Cuba will remind you that the whole world is coming to Cuba, and that the culture here is different. Once again, as an American citizen, you are the minority.

  1. The American constitution does not travel with you.

As I was bordering the flight to Cuba two other men were also bordering who had obviously spent some time on South Beach. They reeked of alcohol and were mistreating the airplane staff. I can remember one of the stewardesses clearly communicating that my rights as an American citizen did not travel with me.

  1. Pack your patience because life in Cuba is relaxed.

Be ready to wait a little longer than normal at baggage claim. In fact, if you can avoid checking a bag, I would do so.

  1. Cell phone and Wi-Fi coverage is very limited.

In most places it is nonexistent. Coming from a cultural where we are always connected, you will learn that in Cuba, they still have years to go to being Wi-Fi friendly.

  1. Cuba is a communist/socialist country.

As Americans, we can be lulled into thinking that just because a country is opening its border to us that it must adhere to our democratic principles. When it comes to Cuba, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, we have established a new relationship with Cuba; but it is, in no way, a democratic country.

  1. There are two Cubas.

There is the Cuba that the government would like for you to see and there is the real Cuba. Cuba is a gorgeous country, but it’s also a country where many people live far below the poverty line. Cuba is a place where the basic needs in life are still hard to come by.

  1. Take it all in.

The people of Cuba are great . The Cuban culture is unlike anything that you have ever seen before. There is no other country like Cuba, so while there, enjoy it!

 

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