Us Dollars and House Accomodation
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Dec 14, 2012 2:05 AM Last Post By: dontomas
Dec 12, 2012 11:28 AM
Us Dollars and House AccomodationHi ,
Im new on here and seriously thinking about going to cuba for about 3 or 4 weeks early next year .
I've read that US dollars incur a 10pc surcharge ..is this true ?
What about flashing US dollars about for paying day to day stuff ..can this be done and get a good rate ?
What other currency is good to take?
Is there a black market that gives you more then the bank for foreign money ?
How easy is it to find accommodation in peoples houses ..what would be the cost per night?
From what I have read about Cuba it seems to be an Expensive Place for travellers .. How can this be so ... If wages are $5 a week for locals .
Thanks for any replies.
Dec 12, 2012 11:59 AM
1"I've read that US dollars incur a 10pc surcharge ..is this true ?"
"What about flashing US dollars about for paying day to day stuff ..can this be done and get a good rate ?"
No. Pay with the local currency like most everywhere else in the world. Even if some would accept foreign currency the U-S dollar is the least attractive.
"What other currency is good to take?"
CAD or Euro. Or even stick to dollar and swallow the bad exchange. It all depends on the amount, do the math yourself between the exchange rate to CAD and the penalty on USD, if you go for a month I am sure the better deal would be to bring USD. Loads of other options such as Caribbean transfers.
"Is there a black market that gives you more then the bank for foreign money ?"
Not realistic. And not something to look for a first time visitor. if ever you find a guy, I'll give it about a 99% chance that you'll end up cheated, and find yourself with CUP instead of CUC or with fake bills.
"How easy is it to find accommodation in peoples houses ..what would be the cost per night?"
Very easy. Depending somewhat of time of year. Think 25-30 per night for a nice place, maybe 5 less if you negotiate a deal for a month.
"From what I have read about Cuba it seems to be an Expensive Place for travellers .. How can this be so ... If wages are $5 a week for locals ."
That's a long, long story and to fully understand one would have to start from the bottom on explaining the ins and outs of the social fabrics of Cuba, but long story very short: Because Cubans and tourists live in two different economies. All main services requested by tourists - casas, hotels, restaurants being the most important ones - are almost never used by Cubans. Cubans have something called a libreta, a book of heavily subsized goods that grants them a set amount of rice, chicken, beans, coffeee, toothpaste and a bunch of other things. So the short reply is that you will live a different life in Cuba in a parallel world set up by the government to please you as a tourist - and suck money out of you. Now you can of course go out of your way to try and live like a Cuban, but the question is if you will enjoy that, some people think they break some magical border into the 'real cuba' by shopping where Cubans shop and eating what Cubans eat and sleeping how Cubans sleep, but the truth is they are trying to break into a world that all Cubans are trying - and some working really hard and for many, many years - to break out of.
Anyway, don't kill yourself trying to figure out how a basic room can cost 25 CUC, a beer 1 CUC, a big can of yoghurt 2 CUC, entrance to a club 10-15 CUC and a short taxi ride 5 CUC - in a world where many people live off 12 or 18 CUC per month. That math is not meant to be done. The only reasonable explanation you as a first time visitor should use is that 'Es Cuba' - it's Cuba. That's the answer you can give yourself every time you wonder why this and why that in Cuba and don't have three years to study the correct answer.
Cuba works in its own ways. That can be done because the state controls almost everything and can lay out the complete tourist industry as they see fit. Es cuba. Love it or hate it.
Dec 12, 2012 1:14 PM
Dec 12, 2012 2:50 PM
3Cuba is a third world country charging tourists first world prices where a working girl with one year high school can earn more money in one night than a brain surgeon with 10 years university in a month. Don’t try to understand the logic. Just go and enjoy the culture and the people. It’s a once in a lifetime experience right on your doorsteps.
Dec 12, 2012 7:49 PM
4DonThomas, that's one of the best responses I've ever seen to those particular questions.
Ockrocknrole, don't know how much traveling you've done, but in my view it is never a good idea to figure out how you can break the law in a foreign country that you don't know (or even one you do.)
Cuba is expensive? Compared to where? A quite decent room in a B&B anywhere in Cuba can be had for US$30 or less. You tell me where in North America, Europe, or elsewhere in the Caribbean you can find that. Breakfast in said B&Bs run about US$4, dinners US$7-12. And I'm talking big good meals here, not greasy spoon crap. Fare on buses just as nice as in the US are about half the price of those in the US and Canada. Ditto taxi fares.
Are prices in Cuba as cheap as in SE Asia or Central America. In most cases, no--although on my most recent trips to Guatemala and Ecuador I paid about the same price for a private room in a hostel as I normally pay for a private room in a Cuban B&B. Cuba does have street food as cheap as what you can find in Latin America. Most of it is not as good, but is generally safer.
Cubans earn very little but they do get a lot of subsidized stuff from the government: nearly free housing and utilities, free education, health care, and sports training if they're into that, a whole range of recreational options, from rum to music events to beach cottages, that cost them next to nothing. And then there's the libreta, mentioned above, that provides every individual on the island with a certain amount of food each month. So they do get by, and healthily, but not richly. Consumer goods cost real money, and only about half the Cuban population has any source of hard currency income at all. What they do lay hands on--from friends and family living abroad, from renting out rooms in their home or using the family car as a taxi, from raising farm crops for export, from tips earned in tourism, and of course, from the black market--goes mostly toward food not supplied on the libreta and consumer products they fancy.
To see the kind of rooms you can get for $25-$35, go to one of the casa websites like www.cubacasas.net or www.cubajunky.com These are just two of the many good ones out there.
To see what bus fares between cities are, go to www.viazul.com For within Havana, there are very cheap collectivo taxis that run certain routes, and a hop-on-hop-off bus that you can ride all day for, I believe, about 5 CUC (not quite $6 US.)
Dec 13, 2012 11:14 AM
5Some differences of opinion re the don tomas reply. If one has access to such exchange offices as BHD on
W 33 St. Manhattan, or the Western Union office on 103 NE 1st Ave, Miami, or any other bureau giving a good
rate for the US $ it is definitely wiser to bring either
euros or CAD than USD. I was getting 125 CUC to the euro a few weeks ago, and I paid $1.30 for each euro.
There are 10 peso taxis all over Havana. One does not have to pay for a taxi in CUC, unless wanting to go to
a specific far away local. it is always wise to carry quite a large amount of Cuban pesos.
If you send me a private message I can tell you of an available apartment with private entrance for 20 CUC
I have stayed in this apartment in the late 90s, and is located on Aguiar, in Hav. Vieja.
Dec 13, 2012 3:40 PM
6CAD or Euro. Or even stick to dollar and swallow the bad exchange. It all depends on the amount, do the math yourself between the exchange rate to CAD and the penalty on USD, if you go for a month I am sure the better deal would be to bring USD. Loads of other options such as Caribbean transfers
Good summary except for the Caribbean transfer bit - not currently a viable option.
Dec 14, 2012 2:05 AM
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