Maybe is right! In 2017, everyone was in love with the option to finally go to Cuba. Not to mention, if you are flying Southwest, a roundtrip ticket would probably run you around $200. Who would pass up this opportunity?!
In April when I received the initial invite from my good friend Paris, I couldn’t resist another travel adventure. (You will see a common theme of Paris being involved in a lot of my travel experiences).
$200 for a flight + $75 per person for an Airbnb for the entire weekend+ Spanish 101 = a bomb trip….or you would think!
I arrived in Cuba a day later than the rest of the group, which means my Freshman year college Spanish level needed to kick in ASAP. I had to navigate myself through the airport terminals, convert my cash (I came to Cuba with Euros, to convert to their native tourist currency CC), and find a taxi ALL IN SPANISH. Did I mention that I had no cell phone service? Let’s just say I sent up a major prayer that the crew was waiting for me at the Airbnb door.
To my surprise, I made it to the Airbnb- and was greeted by my friends drinking on the porch. Who. Would’ve. Thought. We ended the night drinking Havana Club (still can’t stand the smell of this ’til this day), and found a street party on Le Malecon.
A random Cuban man, that had the guts to not only ask me for a picture-but teach me how to dance. Him and his friends ended up being our tour guides for the entire trip!
Day two was much better. We finally arrived to the beach where it was time for some fun in the sun. I was prepared for some relaxation….little did I know, this beach trip would be FAR from relaxing. The stares were unbearable, everyone was so interested in every move “the Americans” made, and we met some “friends” along the way that stalked us the entire time. Needless to say, our beach trip was a nightmare.
Day three was actually the best. (For real)
Our group traveled 2 hours to the mountains to see the tobacco + chocolate farms. Not to mention, I had the best meal HANDS DOWN. We were able to learn how to make real authentic Cuban cigars (according to my Dad, they were the best cigars ever). Of course, it wouldn’t be a great trip if we didn’t end the night with an amazing birthday dinner celebration, where I stuffed my face with all you can eat seafood.
NOW. Let’s discuss some lessons learned, shall we:
- Whatever you do….DO NOT drink the water. Don’t brush your teeth with the water. Don’t wash your face with the water. Just stay away from any water coming out of a faucet.
- This seems extra, but you have to protect yourself at all costs. I pretty much lived out of water bottles. I thought I was in a boujie episode of survivor. LOL
- In your luggage, pack healthy snacks!
- In Cuba, you aren’t going to see a Cook-Out or a Wendy’s on every corner like you would in North Carolina. Not happening. So I’m glad I listened to my parents when they told me to back some high protein snacks, just in case I couldn’t get to a meal in time. They were right. My first night I don’t think I ate at all. My first breakfast was also hotdogs and eggs…(I have no idea why my host family gave us Hotdogs like they were turkey sausage links…but it made for the best laugh ever).
- Keep your expectations low, and your love for adventure high.
- My expectations were way to high. And I blame instagram. I was searching all over the place for the infamous “grandma with the cigar by the yellow wall” for my photos, never found her. I also wanted food…real seasoned food. Didn’t get that either. BUT- I feel like on this trip I was the peppy cheerleader everyone loved to hate. I was so excited for a new day and new adventure.
- PACK. LIGHT.
- I know this is hard for women. I know. But SIS. You have to pack as light as you can. Seriously. I think I packed so much makeup that I didn’t wear. I also think I had the audacity to pack heels….why did I do that? Just pack what you need, not what you think you want.
- Google Maps without WiFi
- I think this goes without saying…you need to know where you are going at all times. Invest in this free app if you are going to a country with no WiFi.
- Following this…WIFI Camps
- This was probably the funniest part of the trip. Like seriously. We would walk to the Wifi Park….pay 3 whole dollars, for an hour of WiFi to update our family, and check instagram. I think I spent more money on WiFi, than food on this trip. Looking back- I still don’t regret it.
My honest thoughts on Cuba, or would I go back?
I know they say do it for the culture, but would I go back…no. I’m sorry (not really). I think it was a quick cheap trip we decided to embark, with the highest instagram expectations. Let me speak on this- instagram you really played me LOL. Once I arrived back in the States, I also realized that we might have stayed in the wrong location. So I’ll take that into consideration. I was expecting so much culture, and I was ready to have my camera burnt up with great colorful pictures. Instead, I was asked if I had a boyfriend or if I’m from America about 97 times a day. That gets so old. HAHA. The food was subpar, until we traveled to some awesome mom and pop places in the mountains.
My dad & I have spoke about going in the future, so he can get some more cigars. Other than that…I will be taking my talents somewhere else 🙂
Just a note: I am probably the 5% of individuals who have traveled to Cuba, who did not have a good time.
I hope you enjoyed my little excerpt about Cuba Living…and if you have any questions feel free to drop a message to ask me!