Alright, alright, I don’t want you to get overly worried about the blog title.

Don’t worry, there’s no gofundme page being started or pleas for money in the near future.

Let me explain…

Money troubles

I have been a little stressed over the last couple of days about money.

When you leave for Cuba it’s recommended that you bring either euros or us dollars and that you bring enough to last your entire trip.

Access to funds here in Cuba is a bit iffy as ATMs and banks are notorious for long line ups and running out of money.

Also, the “official” exchange rate that you get there is only 120 pesos per US dollar but the going rate on the street is 250 pesos meaning you are basically paying a 50% fee on every dollar you withdraw from your card.

Luckily I’m Canadian and not American because it’s even harder for them as US bank and credit cards will not work here in Cuba because of the US embargo that’s been placed on its’ residents.

I brought $1000 USD with me on this trip which I anticipated would be enough for my entire time in Cuba.

I’ve kept it in an envelope tucked away deep in my backpack and every so often I’ll grab some cash out of there to exchange for pesos on the street.

A couple of days ago I decided to see how much was left in the envelope.

My remaining nights at my casas were already paid as was my bus trip from here back to Havana.

All I needed was enough money for food, souvenirs, and a taxi ride back to the airport.

Some quick maths in my head told me I’d be about $60 short.

As it turns out, my guesstimate on the $1000 for the trip was pretty bang on seeing as how I lost $40 to a scam, paid $50 for an art print I hadn’t expected to buy, and had to pay a casa $15 for a lamp I accidently broke.

Oh, and I also threw away 3 perfectly good bus tickets and opted for $20-25 collectivo rides instead.

So, I was going to be about $60 short and I needed money.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon yesterday trying to figure out different ways I could possibly get money here in Cuba that didn’t involve waiting in a line at a bank and getting an exorbitantly bad exchange rate.

At one point I thought Western Union was an option, but they closed off that option in 2020.   I also looked at possibly doing an e-transfer to someone here who would then give me cash in hand but also couldn’t make that work.

Sadly, going to the bank seemed like the only option.

Cadeca Exchange

Outside of the banks, there is a third option if you need to withdraw money from your card and that’s at a government run currency exchange called a Cadeca.

Well, I was up early this morning and had no plans, so I figured I’d head over there and stand in line for awhile   since the temperatures were still relatively mild.

I got there around quarter to nine, and to my pleasant surprise, there were only 2 people in front of me in line.

I wasn’t in line anymore than 10 minutes when the security guard let me inside to do my business.

I asked her for 15,000 pesos, which is valued at about $60, and handed her my credit card and passport.

She handed me the debit machine which showed a withdrawal of $127.50.

Yup, to get $60 worth of pesos costs me $127.50.

I literally paid a 110% fee to withdraw money here.

$67.50 just out the window.   Whoosh.

Once I got over the pain of it all, I was able to have some sense of relief that I finally had enough money to get through the next few days in Cuba.   I wouldn’t have to stress about it anymore.

The art story continues…

Remember yesterday when I said the story behind getting the painting would grow?

Well, the main reason I was in this predicament was because of the $50 I had spent on that art.   If I hadn’t bought the art, I most likely would have had enough money to carry me to the end.

So, in fact, that $50 painting actually cost me another $67.50 when you also take in that exchange fee.

I now own a $117.50 piece of art.

Oh, and that’s US dollars, so, really, it’s a $176 painting when converted to Canadian dollars.

Ironically, it’s not the most expensive piece of art I’ve bought on a trip if you can believe it.

And I’m not even an art person…


After getting my pesos, I again went to the recommended breakfast place this morning hoping that it would be open for business today unlike yesterday.

Ah, yes, I was in luck!

They had a full breakfast menu including three different combination breakfasts all at reasonable prices.

As much as I really, really didn’t want to say “I’ll have the American breakfast”, it was honestly the combo that I wanted.

Along with juice and coffee, you also got a fruit plate to start and then a plate of eggs, toast, ham and bacon.

All that for only 1700 pesos or about $7.

To put in context, most casas offer a breakfast of fruits and toast with a glass of juice for $5.

So, for 2 bucks more, I got eggs, ham, bacon, and a coffee.

Yeah, I’ll be back here tomorrow.

Relaxing at the casa

As I mentioned earlier, I literally had nothing planned today.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true.

My plan was to get breakfast, relax at the casa, get lunch, relax some more, and then get dinner.

My whole day revolved around where I was going to eat today.

I you know what, I was kinda okay with it.

Sometimes you just want a day where you do nothing while you’re traveling and today was that day.

Burger deja vu

After spending a couple hours catching up blogs, I headed back out at 12:30.

The sun was out at full force by now and the mild morning was, once again, turned into a sweltering afternoon.

For lunch, I was craving that burger I had last night.

Seriously, it was so, so good.

And, you know, a couple more pina coladas had my name on them too.

I sat in the exact same seat as last night and had the same waitress.

She actually remembered I had my burger with no bun and before I could order it, she asked if I was having a Pina Colada again.

Why yes, yes I was.

Thanks so much for asking!

Once lunch was over, you what it was time for – more relaxing at the casa.

Figuring out Mexico

As my trip is coming to a close, I’m starting to look closer at the last couple of days at the end.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Trinidad before pretty much spending the whole next day on a bus back to Havana where I’ll spend two nights before boarding my flight home.

That flight has a 16 hour layover in Mexico City.   I land at 5pm which gives me enough time to get a nice dinner, go to bed at a hostel, and head back to the airport for a 9am flight the next morning.

I had booked the hostel weeks ago but as far as how I was going to get there from the airport or where I was going to eat, well, I kind of dropped the ball on those things.

In my mind, I just assumed I’d have to take a taxi from the airport.   After all, that’s how I got to my hostel when I visited Mexico City a few years ago.

However, I had forgotten that I had arrived at midnight last time when transit wasn’t really an option to get into the city so I never thought to look up the options.

Until this afternoon, that is.

I finally figured it all out mapped it out on my offline map app ( but, man, it took me awhile to get the info I needed off the internet.

By the way, it doesn’t help that even with data on my phone, the internet is so slow here.

I know, I know, first world problems…

Also, before I left for this trip, I had spent some time trying to figure out where I was going to have dinner on my last night of the trip in Mexico City.

I’ve kind of had a tradition of having a nice blowout meal on my last night of my trips complete with a tasting menu of multiple courses and some nice alcoholic beverages to go with them.

Problem was the tasting menus I was looking up in Mexico City just a wee bit crazy when it came to pricing.

Now, I know I spent $240 on my farewell dinner on my last trip, but that was simply because it was in Zurich and everything is damn expensive there.

The prices at the nice tasting menu restaurants in Mexico City I was looking at were in the $400-$500 range, without drinks.

Now, that’s crazy!

Anyway, I essentially gave up looking at just told myself that when the time came, I’d just walk out my hostel door and find something down the street.

If you know me though and you’ve read my blogs, well, that is an absolutely horrible plan.

I’ve been in that spot many times in many cities and I end up just wandering about the city for an hour plus looking for food.

So, this afternoon, bad internet and all, I decided I was going to have another go at it and find a place for dinner when I get to Mexico City in a few days.





Yeah, yeah, I know I don’t have hair…

Oh my God, I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to try to find stuff on the internet when it’s soooo slow and all you see is that same loading wheel rolling around and around.

Seriously, just typing about it now is bringing back flashbacks.

Finally at 7pm, it was time for dinner, and frankly, I had had enough.

In a last ditch effort, I posted my plea to Facebook looking for someone, anyone, to tell me some restaurants that were close to where my hostel would be.

And, damn, wouldn’t you know it – Facebook came through for me!

My cousin Troy who used to live in Mexico listed off a dozen places to try, all within walking distance of my hostel.

Seriously, that guy is my hero!

So much stress just magically lifted off my shoulders!

Dinner for one, literally, for one

I decided I was going to go try a paladar that my guide Alex had recommended yesterday.

I walked over there to find a restaurant packed with people.   Well, this is a good sign.

I crossed back over the street so I could get a photo of the front of the building, cause, ya know, I’m a tourist and all.

As I was taking the photo, a couple walked in the restaurant and, as it turns out, sat at the last available table.

Oh, crap.

Guess I won’t be eating here tonight.

I did take alot of solace in the fact that despite it being full, everybody at almost every table had neither food nor drink in front of them which means that the service would be brutally slow.

Now, granted, I have all the time in the world but just sitting there by yourself waiting forever for your food is so damn boring.

So, I left and went down the street to another place I had marked on my map.

As I approached La Ceiba I was warmly greeted by three employees standing at the entrance way.

I took a look at the menu prices and selection and both seemed reasonable so I told them to lead the way.

One of the servers led me to the back and up the stairs to the rooftop terrace.

I was the only one there.

Literally a table for one.

Well, this won’t be awards at all as I sit here alone having 5 employees watch my every move.

Sadly no pina coladas available so I opted for a mojito and another popular Cuban drink called a canchanchara which is basically rum, honey, and lemon juice.

By the way, I’m not usually really a lover of mojitos back home but the ones here are amazing.   I’m pretty sure it’s cause they make them with honey along with everything else.

I order the honey mustard chicken with rice and was pleasantly surprised to be offered a loaf of bread with a side dish of tomato bruschetta to spread onto it.

Naturally I sent back the bread cause of good old celiac but I happily ate the complimentary bruschetta topping.

Even though I’ve been pretty religious about avoiding any fruits and vegetables that don’t have natural peels on this trip, I just couldn’t resist a good bruschetta topping.

And, boy was it good!

Soon after my dinner came and, again, just a really, really good dish.

In total, the bill was 2915 pesos (about $12).   Again, there was a 10% tip already added to the bill but, as I’ve been doing regularly, I still left a 20% tip on the total.

Can’t anger the restaurant Gods, ya know!   Karma is a bitch, after all and I need the restaurant Gods to be happy with me when I return to work next weekend.

By 8:30 I was in for the night.

Considering I really didn’t do anything today, I somehow managed to type out a pretty long blog.

Tomorrow may or may not be the same kind of day.

I may visit a tower to get a view of the city and I may visit a museum.

Then again, I may just do nothing again.

All I know for sure is that there will be a breakfast, lunch and dinner in there somewhere.

Oh, and some pina coladas.

Many pina coladas…

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, Trinidad, Cuba
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