A Trip to Cuba, Part 1

Since I came home from Cuba, I have been thinking a lot about how to write about it. It is difficult because of mainly two things: First, I do not know enough about the history of Cuba and second, I do not know enough Spanish, so most of the time I could only speak to Cubans through other people.

This means that I cannot put things into their proper context. Therefore, the following will be my impressions during my trip and then, hopefully, you will be able to put them into context yourselves.


When I tried to find pictures of Cuba on google, these houses from Habana kept popping up. Now I’ve seen them in real life and taken my own picture.

The Arrival

We landed in Habana airport at 6 pm local time, which means it was midnight in my head. After a thorough passport check and a lackadaisical security check, we queued up to exchange some euros to pesos convertibles. Cuba has two currencies, peso convertible (CUC) and peso cubano (CUP). One CUC is 25 CUP or about 0.94 Euro. The CUP is only used by the locals, while the tourists are expected to pay in CUC. I only found one café where they listed prices in both CUC and CUP, in all other shops and restaurants I went to all the prices were listed in CUC only. I imagine it would have been different if I had gone to less touristy areas.

When we got into our nonofficial taxi, I spent several seconds searching for the seatbelt. There wasn’t any. And while in Cuba I did not see one.


Maybe the modern cars have seatbelts? I saw plenty of modern cars around Habana. However, I would not describe any of the cars I drove with in Cuba as “modern”.

Most Cars are a Taxi

As I said, we took a nonofficial taxi, by which I mean we paid a Cuban to drive us to our casa particular in his private car. This is not a strange thing in Cuba: My sister went to central Habana with her Cuban friend. When they had to go home, her friend stood by the side of the road and gestured for a bit. It was not long before a car stopped, but it did not have any taxi sign, so my sister asked:

‘How do you know it’s a taxi?’

To which her friend replied with a shrug:

‘Most cars are a taxi.’


From inside our first taxi. It was a red Lada with red LED lights inside.

To be continued…

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