WHAT’S IT REALLY LIKE TO TRAVEL TO CUBA?
Cuba surprised me in so many ways. While it was exactly what I anticipated on some levels, it was completely different on others. We traveled to Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad.
Cuba is a socialist country. The people love their country, are incredibly happy people, but do admit they still have some challenges to overcome (primarily wages). I did notice some things worth mentioning:
- Although basic needs like food, education, healthcare, and housing are arranged by the state, many Cubans only earn minimum wage (doctors only make $25 a month!) and can hardly afford nonessential items such as toothpaste, hair styling products, deodorant, feminine hygiene products… things that we take for granted in in the US but that cost a fortune for Cubans. What I didn’t know that I wish I knew beforehand was to bring extra tooth brushes, toilet paper, shampoo, soap etc. you have laying around your house to leave with the locals. They will be more than happy to have them.
- Many stray dogs and cats. I shouldn’t have been surprised as I have seen this same situation in other countries I’ve traveled to, but it really stood out for me here. The running joke was that I was the “dog whisper”. The stray dogs found me and would follow me around. If you are a dog or cat lover, bring dog/cat treats to feed all the strays.
- Pack everything you need. Don’t assume you can buy things there because it’s not guaranteed.
- Don’t even think about getting online. The Internet is painfully slow (if you can even find a place to get online)
- Americans and Cuban definitions of “luxury” are worlds apart. What they call 5*, we could consider 3*
- The country is so clean! I was surprised how clean it was. In Cienfuegos, you could literally eat off the street.
- Bins are where used toilet paper goes. You can’t flush it because of inadequate plumbing systems that clog easily due to low water pressure. Here is a shot of restaurant bathroom. Note you buy 3 sheets of toilet paper. Which also is a good point…. bring your own travel toilet paper. I bought Pockette on Amazon that I brought with and they did come in handy!
It was unseasonably hot while we were there. 95 degrees with 90% humidity! I was wet for 5 straight days. LOL The last few days it did get back to normal temps…80’s during the day. 70’s with nice breeze at night.
I didn’t pack for the unseasonal weather. Thank god at the last minute I threw in 2 Fresh Produce dresses because they were easy to pack. I wore the same 2 dresses for 4 days as they were the coolest things I had packed. By day 3, I stopped wearing makeup as it was literally melting off my face. My hair??? Forget about it. I would wash it in the morning, wouldn’t even bother trying to dry it. I wore hats or pulled back in a ponytail and put on a headband. Therefore, you will not see many pics of me because it wasn’t a pretty sight. Haha
When the weather broke, we did get a few pics.
LET’S TALK SHOES
Lots of cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks so stick to flat sandals and comfortable sneakers! No heals at all!! It will be extremely difficult to walk around. Below is an example of a typical street in Trinidad.
My overall impression of Cuban fashion?
Everyone dresses very casual and simple, so you can wear anything! The local women wear tight clothing and positive body image seemed to be a pretty strong thing, which is great. Below is a pic of our Airbnb host in Trinidad. So confident with her body image!
They did have one trend. The below crazy stockings/pantyhose. This is their big fashion trend right now, but only for “business dress”. We were trying to find some to buy and bring back, but didn’t have any luck. Interestingly, they have embraced all kinds of nail art trends from crazy prints to nail piercing.
Clothes shopping is abysmal except for crochet items and hats. If you are checking bags when traveling to Cuba, make sure to bring a change of clothes in your carry on because you’ll have a very hard time finding anything if your luggage was lost.
Tip: You might want to bring a few extra t-shirts (specifically graphic tee’s) and lipstick that you don’t mind leaving behind, as many Cuban women will ask you to leave them. I had heard about this before I left, but didn’t realize what a big deal this is. I wish I would have packed a few items. So, keep this in mind when you’re packing for Cuba. Oh..regarding the lipstick, I did have an extra one with me that I was going to leave. It was a neutral pink. Our host didn’t want it. Haha. They want bright red and pink!
So that’s it. Unbelievable trip and once in a life time experiences that I couldn’t recreate if I wanted to. Will I go back? Yes! Many places we didn’t get to that I would still love to see.