Well, I’m out of money again, so to everyone who told me Cuba is dirt cheap: thanks for nothing.
Yes, it is relatively inexpensive in a lot of ways, but it’s also unexpectedly pricey for transportation, Cubans expect you to foot their bill all the time and you get ripped off right and left if you’re blond and your English isn’t perfect. Also I’m slightly concerned about getting robbed after one of the fellow tourists we were hanging out with in Havana last night went into the park to make a call and had his iPhone stolen at knife point.
It’s a bizarre feeling to have money and not be able to access it. We asked the hotel – which we’re paying $500 American dollars a night for … NOT CHEAP – if we could put food and drinks and maybe a taxi on the room since they obviously have our credit card number on file. No can do, missy. Then I was going to go the Western Union route again, but for some reason all of them are closed today. (Holiday? No se.)
I’ve got $16 left and Lindsey is super low too. BUT after breakfast, she took her turn at food poisoning and now is writhing in bed, so maybe I’ll get her meal money tonight!
Yesterday was our first day here in Havana. I guess what we’re really paying for at this hotel is the wifi, which is actually hotel-wide! Seriously, you can get it in your room and everything. I almost don’t know what to do with myself and I’ve maybe been cured of my obsessive Instagram-checking for life.
After sipping a few mojitos upstairs at the rooftop pool, we asked the door men where we could find an awesome meal in a place that wasn’t full of white people. The guy – his name is Papi – told us it was very hard to find a place that isn’t full of white people in Havana these days, but directed us to a spot called Canonaso, which was probably five or six kilometers out of the center. It was a pretty cool spot – all brick and courtyard-like with extremely fluffy chickens running loose and a pretty talented band playing. Some guy from Oregon who had for some reason traveled with his saxophone and then for some reason brought it to the restaurant, got up there and played with them and we were pretty convinced he was in some way famous until our waitress asked him and he said flat out that he wasn’t. Sure, that’s what all the celebrities say.
Afterward, we met up with Ellen, a client of Lindsey’s, who is a Norway citizen but has been spending the last year in Cuba. We went to a house party in Vedado. Nothing cool is in central Havana, I’m learning. There, we met some Germans who are living here and some more Cubans. I asked one of them – David – what was hard to get here, and he added condoms and chewing gum to the list. I had a half a pack of chicklet-style gum in my bag, so I gave it to him. Of course, I regret it now because I’m told I could have bartered it to get into a club or for a potato or something. Together, we all went to Chorrera, this castle-style bar and club on the beach with a huge roof top and lots of rum.
This morning, before she starting chucking, we went on a tour across Havana this morning in a bright purple 1958 Ford. There are even more of the old cars in Havana than I’ve seen other places. David told us last night that most of them have been in families for decades. No one really buys them because they’re quite expensive here – about $10,000. And of course, they’re constantly replacing parts and the engine, but it’s still pretty amazing that they’re all still running.
After the tour, the guy tried to take us for $70 even though we had agreed on $35 beforehand, and normally we might have given in, but considering we’re REALLY BROKE, we refused and just handed him $35 and walked away. He followed us into the hotel and later a manager came to try to get the money, but we managed to keep it and we haven’t been arrested yet. Anyway, I hear when you get in trouble in Cuba, the punishment is a police escort to the airport, so considering taxis are pretty pricey, that might be a net gain.
I haven’t eaten again today, but I went to a market and bought some cola and got some limes and ice from the bar and have been mixing it all with the rum I bought in Santa Clara and sitting at the pool, which is at least gorgeous.