Feb 15, 2017

I found out this morning what many have been saying for years.   Sharing a bathroom with a bunch of girls isn’t ideal.

So, this morning as I awoke to a apartment full of girls, I waited my turn and took a, oh so needed, hot shower to start my day.

It wouldn’t be my last shower of the day…

I opted for the 3CUC ($3) breakfast made by the housekeeper who lives down the hall.

She, of course, speaks no English but still, for some reason, continues to have full on conversations with me in Spanish even though I just stare back at her with a confused look.

The breakfast was a pineapple juice, ham and cheese grilled sandwich, some scrambled eggs, and a plate full of peeled and cut fruit.

For $3 that’s one hell of a deal.   Spending the last little while in Mexico and now Cuba, I’ve learned to stay away from fruit and vegetables as they’re likely rinsed in undrinkable water so I left the fruit plate untouched.

It did look beautiful though.

It’s funny, you can be super vigilant with avoiding drinking the water and even brushing your teeth with bottled water but you let your guard down one minute and you’re sitting on the toilet all day.

Sadly, my guard was down a couple of nights ago in Cancun when I visited all those food stalls.

Let’s just say my system is, ah, compromised…

A girl in my dorm was checking out and she couldn’t find the housekeeper to return her key for her 5CUC deposit so I offered to pay her the 5CUC and return the key for her.

Well, that little gesture led to some big time confusion.   I returned said key to Luisa the housekeeper and she gave me the 5CUC.   Easy peezy, right?

I went out for a bit and came back only to find my bed had been cleared off and my stuff put in a corner.   Luisa confronted me speaking Spanish as I tried to enter the apartment with my key.

You see, she thought the key I gave her was mine so she thought I had checked out.   Honest mistake but, man oh man, it’s hard to explain what’s going on when you don’t speak each other’s languages.

After a little help from Google Translate, we were able to have a laugh and she reset my stuff.

So, lesson learned – don’t help people.   Nah, I’m kidding…

The wifi in Cuba is like something from the dark ages.   Nobody has individual wifi at the houses let alone data plans for their phones.

Nope, the way people get wifi in Cuba is to go to a handful of wifi hotspots in the city.   At a little stall you buy a card for an hour for 1.50CUC ($1.50), scratch off the password on the card and enter it when you sign on to the wifi network.

Oh, and the wifi network is only in that little area so you have to do all your internet stuff out in the open in a park.

Anyway, I got in line at the booth and they only had 5 hour cards for 7.50CUC so I bought one and sat on a bench in the park next to the building I’m staying at.

Yay, internet.   Very slow internet.   Especially in the evening when dozens of people are out in the park just standing around browsing on their phones.

Anyway, I haven’t really loved the place I’m staying at and I had only booked 2 nights so I started looking up other casa particulares nearby and pinpointing them on my offline map.

Of course this took forever to do but I finally got it all mapped out and headed off towards Old Havana to stop by the two places I had marked to check them out.

After walking about a half hour in the sweltering heat I finally came across a major roadway into town.

I came across a burger joint and grabbed a monster burger for 3CUC ($3).   This burger was a double patty, cheese and slice of ham on a bun.   Yup, a literal ham burger!

Now, for me, $3 isn’t that much for a burger, especially one that big but considering the average salary for Cubans is $25 a month this is something most Cubans would never have.

In fact I had to keep reminding myself that while I’m just strolling into their country for a little while, this is their daily life and routine.

Soon after I arrived at the street where the first casa particulare was mapped out.   It was just off of the main road and from the outside it looked like where homeless people might squat.

I didn’t even go in to check it out and just kind of stood there on the sidewalk for awhile pondering my future in Havana.

I decided, instead, that I would check out one of the hotels in the Vedado area that I wandered off to last night.

Screw it.   I’ll just stay in a hotel and be spoiled a little.   After all, how much could a hotel be in a city where I was renting a dorm bed for $7 a night.

I aborted my walk towards Old Havana, figuring I would see it tomorrow on the free walking tour anyway and walked in the other direction towards Vedado.

By now I had walked a couple of hours and I was exhausted and drenched in sweat.

I checked out the hotel where the collective taxi had dropped us off last night and the cheapest room was $300 a night.

Say what?!?

A little further down the road I found one for only $74 a night, but still, that’s crazy pricing for Cuba.


As I walked back to the place I was staying at I pondered the next few days and settled on staying one more night where I was staying, doing the walking tour tomorrow and then head off to Vinales the next day.

When I got back to the apartment in the late afternoon I had been out walking for 3 hours.   I was instantly greeted by one of the most obnoxious travelers I’m met as he just talked incessantly.

Add him to the 3 Finnish girls who smoke in the apartment and just go out and party every night and you can see why I really wanted to switch up to another casa particulare.

Oh well, just one more day to tough out here and then I can head to Vinales and start fresh with new people in a new, smaller city.

I started planning and then, a funny thing happened…

Check out Part II to see how the rest of the day unfolded.   I’ll give you a hint – I ain’t in Cuba anymore!

Havana, Cuba, Euro Trip 2017, Trip Journal
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