The loving Cuban advice of a cousin.


“Jo, you’re writing this down right?” My cousin Dawn started.
“Yup, I have pen and paper in hand. Go on.” I urged her to continue. My cousin Dawn who has been to Cuba four times in the last few years graciously offered to give me some tips on travel to Cuba.
“You need to put 25CUC$ aside for your visa when you leave.”
“Visa or departure tax? I though your visa was included in your plane ticket when you fly out of Canada.”
“Yeah departure tax or what ever. They’re not joking around with it. Your visa you’ll get it on the plane and fill it out properly! If you lose it you’ll be force to pay 40CUC$ to replace it.” Or whatever? I already knew this. The departure tax had been written across every piece of paper from tripcentral.ca that I had received about my trip to Havana Cuba this January. It was also written on every guide book I read and just about every website I looked at.
“Alright next tip! Cuba is a third world country. It’s very poor so you’ll probably get bugged by the people and especially since you are alone. Don’t you have anyone to go with you?”
“No, it was a last minute and unplanned trip.”
“That’s a shame. You’ll really should fine someone to go with you.” Now I love my cousin, she more like a sister I don’t get to see very often. It is quite apparent that over protectiveness and the inability to understand the benefits and joys of solo travel is hereditary on my mother side of the family.
“Ohoo another tip!” She began again, typing rapidly through face book chat.
“Don’t talk to strangers! I’m not joking”
“But that’s the best part of traveling Dawn! Meeting new people.” I protested. Really, don’t talk to strangers? Don’t get me wrong I won’t be chatting to the fellow who hiding in a dimly lit alley way. But, not to talk to anyone I don’t know? Yeah right.
“It’s not like Europe Jo. It’s a third world country.” Yes granted, but it’s also one of the safest countries in the Caribbean.
“And honestly Jo, I have no idea what you are going to do in Havana for seven nights. I was there only once for 4 hours on a day trip and that was enough for me. Don’t you like beaches?”
“Really? I have a hard time narrowing it down to fit in a seven night trip. Beaches are no fun when you’re alone.”

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