....SO, YOU WANT TO VACATION IN CUBA?

Discussion in 'The Beau Coupe Dien Cai Dau Hootch' started by rooter, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

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    Those of you who have been talking of going to Cuba may find this interesting. A 77 yr old guy goes to Europe, Canada, Mexico and now Cuba for bicycle road trips. I thought you might enjoy reading this gentleman’s report of his bicycle trip to Cuba:


    On February 1st I flew to Atlanta, met some friends and we flew to Cancun, Mexico. We spent 4 days there, mostly touring the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza and getting ready for the next part of the adventure. Seven more people flew in and we all boarded a Mexican airline, Interjet, and flew to Havana for a week of bicycle riding in Cuba.

    Cuba, where nothing works. Including the people. Unemployment is 48% and of those who do work, 8 out of every 10 work for the government. Before heading to the western part of the island, we spent a night in Havana at the Riviera Classic, the finest hotel at the time. 20 stories with 3 elevators, but only one worked. Contrary to what I found in the rest of the country, my shower only had hot water. Turn the knobs all you want, but you only got hot, scalding water.


    The stories about the old cars is quite true, but many of those cars are used to take tourists on tours of the city. $30.00 gets you 2 hours in 1952 Cadillac convertible and you can pile in as many people in as you want. Old Chevys seem to be the most popular and a few are quite nicely restored. They all fell in the 1941 to 1957 range. I saw nothing newer than a 57. By restored, I mean they look good on the outside, but as our Cuban tour guide said, there would not be a V8 under the hood. The original had failed decades ago and with no parts to fix it, other means had to be found. Generally that involved putting a 4 cylinder Russian made diesel in and making the necessary changes to get it to fit and mate up with an unknown transmission.

    Outside Havana, the country is still in the 19th century. Many people walk, but equally as many use horses, both to ride and pull carts. I saw wagons pulled by oxen on the highway. We traveled by motor coach, stayed in crude motels, and ate in restaurants; all owned by the government. Staying clean was a challenge. In the public restrooms, washing your hands was interesting. You need three things to wash your hands; water, soap, towel to dry. Well, the towel was your shirt or pants, because there never were any towels. In 1/3 of the toilets there was no water and in one case, there was a lady standing beside the sink with a bottle of water to pour over your hands. In an equal number of places, there was no soap.

    If you thought not having soap and water in the rest room was a problem, imagine not having a toilet SEAT. Yep, no toilet seat and it wasn’t just confined to public facilities. One of the rooms we stayed in had no toilet seat, which was matched by the fact there was not toilet paper. In its place, somebody had carefully torn individual sheets of toilet paper from a roll and placed them on the back of the toilet.

    Free health care and education is one of the things Castro brought with his revolution. The health care is generally limited to the bigger cities. Our guide told us that a taxi driver in Havana earned more in tips each day than a medical doctor earned in salary in one month. Oh, and the doctor can be arrested and jailed if he attempts to treat people on the side for extra money. Education is free, but the reality is that most people cannot afford to stay in school. Our tour guide was the exception. He completed college and got a Master’s degree in computer technology, but can’t find a job in that field, so he conducts tours.

    We visited a tobacco farm, where we had the opportunity to purchase genuine Cuban cigars for $3.25. The farm had been in this man’s family for 3 generations, but only recently had actual title been put back in his name. The government claimed it after the revolution. After harvest, the government takes 90% of the tobacco, leaving the farmer with just 10% for his “own personal use”. He chose to demonstrate how to hand roll a cigar, then sell it to tourists. I asked our guide if all farmers lost 90% of their crop to the government. His reply, “Oh no, vegetable farmers only give up 60% of their crop”.

    The roads looked like they had been carpet bombed with huge potholes everywhere. Add that to the very steep hills we encountered and it made for slow biking. While I am no speed demon, one day I averaged just 4.5 MPH as I attempted to find bits of pavement between the holes in the road. In many cases, there was no road, just dirt and when the trucks went past, we were engulfed in a storm of dust and exhaust fumes. A few of the trucks were left over Russian military vehicles. Personal transportation in the rural area was provided by stake-bodied trucks. People would stand by the side of the road and climb aboard when such a truck came by. The fare was around 8 cents and you stood packed in the bed of the truck with several dozen other people.

    Those on welfare receive $25 a month, plus a ration of beans, rice, and cooking oil. The money came from the Cuban government, but the Russians provided the food. Each month a supply cargo ship docks with beans, rice, and cooking oil sent by the Russians. Speaking of them, the Cuban version of the Missile Crisis is quite different from what we heard in the US.

    Glad I went, but have no desire to return. Cuba makes our inner cities look like paradise and the poverty is staggering. After two weeks abroad, we flew home and I spent the night in a Hampton Inn at the Atlanta airport, before catching an early morning flight back to Seattle. Took the longest hot water shower ever after having a cheeseburger, fries and two gin & tonics for dinner. I was really glad to be back.

    Dedicated to all Bernie Sanders supporters and other DUMMYCRATS that believe "Government Socialism" is so much better than our country that was built on "Capitalism."
     
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  2. grcsat

    grcsat Well-Known Member

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    I have been there many times.
    WHAT A LOAD OF CR@P!!!!!!!!!!
    This guy has no idea of what he is talking about.
     
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  3. CCHolderinMaine

    CCHolderinMaine Well-Known Member

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    Please inform those of us who haven't been.
    Exactly how is life in Cuba?
     
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  4. grcsat

    grcsat Well-Known Member

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    Cuba is a second world country and not a first like Canada or the US , But it is not a third world country either.
    Cuba is like any other country in respect that it has its own unquce problems which I admit are rather strange compaired to ours due to how the country was reformed after the revolution. That would take an entire book to fully explain so I'll just leave that out for now.
    One off the biggest causes of confusion in regards to Cuba is the long standing fight between Cuba and the US. So here is an example of what is going on. It was illegal for a US citizen to go to Cuba , Wrong. It was illegal for a US citizen to go to Cuba leaving from US soil but not illegal to visit Cuba if you left from any other country in the world to go to Cuba. In a nut shell if you left the US to go to Cuba that was illegal, but a US citizen can go to Cuba if he/she leaves from Canadian soil. That has always been perfectly legal and in fact Cuba will never stamp a US passport if you leave from Canada or most any country.
    If you go to Cuba on a US tour, you are only allowed to stay in certain hotels (all of them are real dumps and should be torn down) , eat at certain reastrants, and are not allowed to go to the beach. ( your tour guide will make sure you follow the rules put down by the US government) The Cuban government really doesn't care.
    Now if you leave from Canadian soil, you can stay at any hotel , eat where you want to and of course go to the beaches just like I do.
    There are two types of currency used. One type is local and the other is for tourists. As a tourist you pay high prices for everything. ( $4. for a pack of US made smokes) The reason I'm mentioning this is you will hear that these people only get a bout $25 a month if you are not working so here is a compairesin . I will pay $4 for cigs and the local who gets $25 a month will pay 6 cents for a pack of smokes . Confusing isn't it.
    Russia dose not supply Cuba with food stuffs. It all comes from Brazil, France , Italy and Spain due to trade agreements.
    I have from time to time rented a car in Cuba and it has never been more than two years old. There are far more new Suzuki cars running around than what the tourist pics show of the old cars from the forties and fifties.
    I ALWAYS stay world class five star hotels which includes very good meals (24/7) and all the booze I can drink for about $150 a day. If you leave from the US , you are not allowed to use or go to these places. But if you leave from Canada , you certainly can. Why stay at a dump when on vacation.
    Cuba has the same thing as we all have. The poor part of town , the middle class and a smaller upscale part of town. Tour busses are not allowed to go through the upscale part of town.
    Everyone wants to go to Havana . I don't care for it because it is rather run down and not nearly as modern as other places in Cuba. Cuba has the same problem with booze and drugs just like any other place in the world but it is well hidden.
    Cuba being a communistic country has 1.7% unemployment.
    On average I would say that most Cubans HATE Russians more than anything else and they sure don't hide it in the resterants and bars.
    I will be going back in September again just like I always do.

    If you have any questions, just ask and I will try to answer them.
     
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  5. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

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    Good Evening Sir...i read your post and immediately copied it and sent it to the person
    who had sent the posting i had done... chief
     
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  6. grcsat

    grcsat Well-Known Member

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    rooter
    this is where I usually stay ( iberostar ensenachos grand village suites )
    Look it up and see the pics. Then tell me if this is a dump or what you think.

    This is my the room that I normally have (they are all the same) and someone made a video of one of the rooms and posted it on U-Tube. No I was not there at the time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  7. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

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    Good Morning from a rainy-day in Phoenix...Up early with the thunder and the pounding rain,
    sounds that are not heard often except a lot during the monsoon season.Your photo looks
    pretty 5-Star to me....As many navy personnel who have served in Gitmo Cuba, I was there
    only once, and just passing thru down to the southern islands, probably Antigua in the mid-50's.
    What is, or was, your line of work that took you to the island so often? Chie
    f
     
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  8. bamajoey

    bamajoey Well-Known Member

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    A very close friend of mine is from Cuba. He paints the same picture of Cuba that Rooter refers to in the first post. If it's so great, why are so many people risking their life trying to leave there?
     
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  9. dbcooper

    dbcooper Well-Known Member

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    and that is my question exactly.
     
  10. grcsat

    grcsat Well-Known Member

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    To answer your question in a nutshell Cuba is a communist country in turmoil.
    Its not a great place to live if you don't have money but a great place to live if you do .
    Remember it is a communist country and most of us don't want anything to do with communisim.
    This country has both the good and the bad of everything every country in the world has. However , they also have insurmountable problems that we never hear about or understand. And its mostly about fulfilling obligations to other countries that are still in force because those same countries demanded consesions to help prop up the country after the revolt/war. You would think that countries like Spain , France , Brazil, ect would have dropped those consesions by now. Well they haven't and are still screwing the country royally. Even worst than the Russians.
    Here is a perfict example of one of those consesions. A certain amount of fresh produce must be sold to those countries and in return a certain amount must be bought back from those same countries in a processed form. Doing things this way the country will not get out of debt for at lease a hundred years. The US embargo sure hasn't helped either and helps Cuba remain a communist country. You really have to read a good book as to why the revolution happened , it dose shock a lot of people.

    The point I am tryng to make is that I am sick and tired of people painting the country with one paint brush and one colour. The country is forever changing and the biggest change is promoted by the internet. IMO , I don't think Cuba will be a cummunist country in the next 50 years , but that is just my thoughts.
    As for the jackass who wrote the adventures of his cycling trip, he promoted hearsay rather than facts. And not to mention "travel CHEAP and pay the PRICE "
    I go to Cuba quite often and the reason I go is because it is one of the safest places in the world to travel and because I am a cheap skate . My dollar buys more there ( hotels, food ect) than most other places in the world and not to mention, Cuba has some of the finest beaches in the world and I love the beach.

    Hope this answers your question.
     
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  11. dbcooper

    dbcooper Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it is necessary to disparage another person for his viewpoint on his personal experiences. He did go there and he did have the right to express what he saw and lived.
    The mans account that Rooter posted was his own experiences and obviously, you have observed a different part of Cuba in terms of culture.
     
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  12. ral357

    ral357 Well-Known Member

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    While the real Cuba is likely somewhere between the OP and the second picture of a charming culture I have to put more credence in what Cubans have told me. From what I've been told Cuba is closer to the OP, much closer, than the second view.
    Grcsat I have zero doubt your posts reflect what you personally have experienced but obviously it's not the whole deal. I imagine that Cuba makes some effort to put its best foot forward for folks visiting from favorable countries.
     
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  13. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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  14. jwdurf

    jwdurf Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    As you know my wife and I travel to Brazil a couple of times a year to visit her family. Usually we fly to Miami, stay overnight then fly to Rio the next day, on the way home we fly the opposite route. One trip four years ago, we wanted to see Havana, and indeed, as grcsat said, it is no problem to fly from Brazil to Havana. We spent 3 days there in a very nice hotel and saw a few of the sights.

    In the past few years I have been to Cuba, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. They all have varying versions of political and economic dysfunction. Like those other Latin American countries, Cuba has two faces. There is the side with rich business and corrupt politics that caters to upscale tourism and then there is abject poverty. These countries all have 2 classes, a small segment of the very rich and a large segment of the VERY poor.
     
  15. drymag

    drymag Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Check out google earth and their highway systems. Can zoom about and compare cities/towns.

    My first thought is no gun ranges because my biases tells me so. But who knows, maybe they do exist for the wealthy. Naturally Mosin Nagants if any (again, my biases :D). Any thoughts there?
     
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The Beau Coupe Dien Cai Dau Hootch "SO WORLD TRAVELER...WANNA TRIP TO CUBA"? Apr 1, 2017