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Author: Subject: Cuba...i know it's not a Baja thing
Paco Facullo

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[*] posted on 3-5-2017 at 09:08 AM

Quote: Originally posted by lencho  
Quote: Originally posted by Paco Facullo  
I have to agree with DrEnsenada.
Although I stayed at casa paticulars ( rooms in a Cuban's house )

As I understand things, she hated it and you stayed two months and enjoyed it. What's the difference?

The difference is two different people.
I admit That I am an odd one and really like it off the beaten path.

I actually feell more comfortable while being in the company of of locals than when in a luxury situation. And believe me I have bone both to the extreme.
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Paco Facullo

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[*] posted on 3-5-2017 at 09:22 AM

For instance while in Cuba I went from Havana to Santiago de Cuba by train.
The owners of the Casa said I was crazy to take the train .
It is notorious for break downs and it did. It took me 21 hours .
I was the only Gringo I saw. It was a great experience.
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Elite Nomad

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Mood: Move on. It is just a chapter in the past, but don't close the book- just turn the page

[*] posted on 3-5-2017 at 11:27 AM

I was asked, Chuckie to expand on my experience as to the medical research I was doing. And no, after seeing the filth and trash and crumbling infrastructure and the unwillingness of the Cuban people to discuss anything let alone the government officials I decided against going to the hospitals. Maybe it had to do with wanting to get out of the country safely. When I first asked about the flight, every place was booked. I was told I could go over there and a taxi driver could find me a place, a "casa particular". I was not comfortable with doing that. I wanted to make sure I had a place to stay that was guaranteed. I did end up talking to many locals there. I did not feel comfortable in the political environment there and find Mexico to be much more open and approachable when it comes to medical care. I invite anyone who wants to explore the healthcare field and the possibilities to go ahead and do that. I am done.
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[*] posted on 3-5-2017 at 02:54 PM

I went to Cuba in 2000 at the height of the economic "problems." It was illegal for Americans to travel there at the time. I saw almost no US tourists. I wanted to see Cuba before the onslaught of tourists. I never imagined it would take so long.

Yes, there was a decaying infrastructure, food shortages, and many people on the street asking for shampoo, toothpaste, my tennis shoes, and ballpoint pens. Anything that would help with a monthly income of $30 US. Three university graduates gave my small group a tour of old Havana that couldn't have been better. We tipped each one $5. It made their day, their week, and maybe their month.

The three were being very critical of the government, so much so that a passing older woman called them "traidores de la revolución." I remember telling the most outspoken that he needed to be more patient because Castro was an old man and wouldn't live much longer. He replied: "el P-nche cabrón va a vivir quince años mas." He turned out to be right almost to the year.

I found the Cubans unfailingly friendly. My Spanish is fluent, which helped enormously. There was no animosity to Americans who traveled there against the ban. I loved the music, the culture, the history, and the natural environment, which has been remarkably preserved. One needs to travel there with these interests. I noticed that the roadways and countryside were very clean, not like Mexico with trash strewn everywhere.

We had one wonderful meal in a paladar (privately-run restaurant) and another one in the countryside near Viñales. The rest were mediocre and overpriced, mostly promising more than they delivered. Surely it's better now.

I still have fond memories of my visit and am thankful I went when I did. Travel to Cuba has become very trendy. Don't travel there only because others are doing it.
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Paco Facullo

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[*] posted on 3-5-2017 at 05:56 PM

In regards to the medical field in Cuba. I went with a good buddy that is an acupuncturist and he had brought a lot of needles and pain patches to give away.
He went to a collage medical facility and could not see anyone without an appointment.
Also he was questioned considerably.
I was there doing plumbing research as I'm a retired plumbing contractor .
I really had to explain myself many times while taking pictures and need to ask beforehand. Even then the people were quite skeptical and seemed nervous.
I believe it is due to being under a Dictatorship and Communism for so long.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 05:17 PM

Just got back from three weeks in "El Oriente", the eastern part of the island, Holguin, Camaguey, Bayamo, etc...
Very little changes if you are Cuban. Cuban Peso Cubano, not to be confused with Peso Convertible, is limited on what it will buy. Anything of quality is priced in Peso Convertible which is pegged to the US dollar, and of which no local person earns in their pitiful salaries. Some changes are noticeable in the tourist centers of Havana, Veradero, Vinales and Trinidad. Mainly more eating options, and tons more casa particulares. The majority of tourist end up on this well traveled gringo trail, (try to avoid these places if you want to see Cuba).
Have been traveling all corners of the island since the late 90's, the best part of the country is the people. The government is oppressive and controlling. Hunger is a very powerful tool used by the government.
Staying with friends is a grounding experience where my engineer friend makes $18 a month and every day is a process of finding something to eat. El libreta, the monthly ration book is down to a couple pounds of rice a couple pounds of beans, some sugar, cooking oil and little else, not enough to survive for more than a few days. Everyone on the island with the exception of government officials, military and police, (they eat better, have their own stores, rations, etc.), do something illegal on the side in order to survive. Everything produced or imported is the government's property, therefore if you are a cattle rancher and you butcher a cow, you go to jail. Even with the risk, everybody skims and re-sales from cigars and soda pop, to gasoline and chicken. Then there is the jinateras, both male and female, doing whatever they can for something to eat and the chance of being taken off the island by an amorous tourist. Cuban friends tell me in embarrassment it is the largest prison in the world, not just because they can't leave freely, but everyone brakes the law just to survive.
The CDR, (Comite De Defensa Del Revolucion), the government's local watchdog, has someone on each block keeping an eye out for those not supporting the "Revolucion". People definitely speak more open than in the past, but unfortunately 50 years of Big Brother watching has everyone so paranoid and uncertain that I believe the collective psyche is permanently damaged.
The other trauma to Cuban culture is that since the wet/foot, dry/foot policy was eliminated by the Obama agreement with Raoul, there has been a mass exodus of younger people with the anticipated changes in immigration policy. Many families are broken with family members abroad, not knowing if or when they will ever see each other again.

Now if you want to be a tourist there is world class music, performing arts, sports, and beaches and diving. The history is fascinating, the architecture some of the best in the western hemisphere. Although unless you know your way around, and speak Spanish, (and understand the Cuban accent), things are expensive and the food and service is pitiful, (what do you expect for $18/month).
The Communist/Socialist experiment began failing the minute the Soviet Union collapsed and removed the oil tankers from Havana bay. With Venezuela on the ropes now, things look real bleak for Cuba's future.
The folks that can count on money sent from family members overseas live way better than those that don't, so the exodus will continue. So sad.

I feel for the people's suffering, but their spirit is inspiring. They are truly the best thing about Cuba, the people.
Como dicen la jente, "No Es Facil"

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Ultra Nomad


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[*] posted on 4-18-2017 at 05:27 AM

Was there in 2001. Had to sneak in through Nassau. As was the custom back then my passport was not stamped on arrival. My buddies and I had a great time and the girls just loved me!

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