It began with a text from Lucy asking me if I were interested in going to Cuba on vacation. After realizing she was serious, I advised she could put me down for a never as far as Cuba travel is concerned. Ditto for my total bad ass husband (PTST). Lucy wanted to go because she thought it would be just like Havana Nights. (I haven’t seen the movie so have no idea what she is talking about.) Her husband Craig wanted to see the 1950s cars. During the clarification call, insert my husband in the background yelling, ‘’Why is a card carrying Republican going to a Communist country?” Insert me adding, “You are making Ronald Reagan cry.”
I advised Lucy to do some online research and then let me know if she still wanted to go to Cuba, and thought the topic of Cuba was history. Until I rolled into Pizza Al’s on Sunday and our favorite pizza guy and fellow travel lover advised he is looking into going to Cuba for his next vacation. Why? Because it’s a short flight and it’s super cheap. Thought: So is Newark, but I’m not going there for vacation either. Response: Please take my friend Lucy with you.
Philly Joe (we don’t hate on him for being an Eagles fan so he won’t ridicule us for supporting the ever-losing Redskins—soon to be name changed but forever to be losers, or at least until the day Dan Snyder dies) said it is a common travel destination for Canadians and Europeans and the beaches are beautiful. People love it! According to Philly Joe, the only reason Americans haven’t vacationed there is because we were unallowed, but now the ban is lifted so we should all rush to Cuba before the rest of the USA discovers it and crowds it up and we can’t get a beach chair.
Because I believe in signs (supernatural events, not the movie, although the movie was awesome), I decided the travel gods were telling me something by have two people in one week recommend Cuba for a vacation spot. I told Philly Joe that I was going to Google it to learn what I’m missing out on. So I immediately went home and took a nap. This is what I do every Sunday after Pizza Al’s, signs or no.
Then I put on my tin foil hat, opened up Internet Explorer and went to Yahoo because 1. I am a thousand years old and 2. I know it pisses off my husband that I refuse to use Chrome and Google. That didn’t turn up anything helpful. (Maybe I should consider Google, but don’t tell Mike.) So I went to my go-to site for travel info, TripAdvisor.
Here are some highlights:
- Credit cards from US banks are not accepted.
- Cuban money is not internationally traded, so you cannot buy it in advance. Read: there is no way to save yourself from the shake down that will occur when you try to turn your hard-earned American dollars into Cuban cash.
- Also not accepted: US medical insurance. Not required but strongly recommended: vaccinations for Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Diphtheria, plus Tetanus and Polio.
- The lack of insurance thing may not be a problem since it appears there is little to no medicine in Cuba. There are hospitals, but I’m not sure what they do if they have no medicine; inside my head it involves amputation with a rusty knife and no anesthesia. It is recommended you take any and all medications you may require, from prescription to over the counter, specifically Immodium.
- Toilet paper is no guarantee; nor is electricity or water.
- Apparently, what is guaranteed is that you will be any or all of the following: scammed, shook down, robbed, mugged, solicited, approached, haggled, conned, cheated, swindled.
- The food is bad. (How can the land that invented the Cuban sandwich have bad food?)
- Don’t start your period. ‘Nuff said.
- There are bugs, but no bug spray. It is recommended you take OFF and Raid.
- There was a whole list of what to do if you plan to take a baby, but the thought of someone taking a baby here made me so sad I couldn’t read it.
- There are no set rates for hotels. So like one couple did, you may pay $140 for a week and arrive to find the people in the room next to you paid $140 for two weeks. (See #6)
- “Clean” is a relative term.
- And when all of the above have been enjoyed during your trip, there is an exit fee that must be paid at the airport in cash before you are permitted to leave.
If the above list sounds to you like the makings of a grand adventure, I will recommend you go to Cuba on vacation. As one guy put it… “The water was trucked in and some days the truck didn’t come so we didn’t have water, but I didn’t let that wreck my day.” I am not that guy. I like to brush my teeth. I like to shower. I like to wipe myself off with a clean towel after my shower. I like to wipe my ass with toilet paper. If I want an adventure, I will go to Walmart on a Saturday.
Lucy also read some reviews on the webs and tubes and called me back to advise she had changed her mind about going to Cuba. She stated she did not care to get robbed or mugged on vacation, since we all know we can stay at home and do that right here in America.
Of course Philly Joe is much younger than Lucy and I, so perhaps he will be the one who finds living without water or palatable food for a week to be just the sort of vacation he is looking for. If so, I will ridicule him mercilessly before he goes and then pray the entire time for his safe return. Because I can’t bear the thought of losing one of Pizza Al’s finest…