cuba | alaska airlines
i had the privilege of heading to Cuba for 8 days with the best crew on behalf of Alaska Airlines. this trip absolutely made it into my top 3 of all time. we spent our days touring coffee & tobacco farms, eating lots of rice & wandering the streets of Havana, Cienfuegos & Trinidad. also riding in a tiny van around the country. the memories & inside jokes will live on forever & i'm so thankful for this wild trip! here's a collection of my favorite photos as well as some tips for you all if you ever find yourself heading to Cuba!
tip 01 — each morning, these are some of the noises you wake up to all at once: roosters crowing, barking dogs, screaming babies, screaming adults, construction, more roosters & more dogs. next time i go i'll definitely bring ear plugs & probably an eye mask & i recommend that you do too!
tip 02 — you can only drink bottled water: tap water will make you sick & most restaurants charge $3+ for a bottle. (they took a nod from US amusement parks evidently.) you'll honestly want to be chugging water the entire time you're there so stock up when you can! for larger bottles, they're usually around 50¢ at convenience stores & cafés. then you have them to share & all pour them into reusable ones!
tip 03 — saying that wifi is scarce is an understatement. basically, there are hotspots at parks & on street corners & you have to buy wifi cards that last on a timer for one hour. they range from $2-$6 a card & you can only use them in the wifi parks! sometimes you have to stand in line at government buildings to purchase them, so make sure you have your passport ready. we learned this one the hard way, haha.
tip 04 — most facilities are open air (also, basically no AC!) & you're technically always outside so have bug spray & sunscreen & put it on whenever you think about it. i did not make this call & ended up looking like a lobster by the end of the trip, haha.
tip 05 — bring SNACKS. you guys. there is not one place... anywhere at all... to buy snacks. i was told this going into the trip but i didn't believe it & only came with 6 Cliff bars thinking that i'd find a convenience store. boy did i regret that decision! they don't have convenience stores at all & the culture in general consists of eating three meals a day & that's it. each meal is rather heavy (rice, beans, bananas, potatoes, meat) & fairly expensive if you want to eat food that won't make us fickle American sick & give us food poisoning! so think ahead & pack lots of nuts, bars, jerky, etc.
tip 06 — as i mentioned above, every meal consists of meat & rice & beans & fruit. i recommend trying to eat rice once a day instead of three times. we all felt pretty gross four days in or so & realized it was due to the constant consumption of rice. also if i had brought more snacks i wouldn't have felt desperate for any food i got & would have been able to ration meals & avoid all the rice! so bring snacks & try to not eat rice as frequently as three times a day & you'll be set!
tip 07 — money: i got $350 out of the bank & transferred it to Canadian dollars where there was no exchange loss. it pared down to $266 CUC for use in Cuba & it wasn't really enough. learn from my many mistakes on this trip, y'all! spending $35 or $40 a day was pretty practical. i wanted to get way more gifts for people than i was able to come the last day. there aren't ATMs out in the wild & small street market vendors of course don't take card. they have so many awesome leather goods, cigars, turquoise, coffee beans, etc. & i barely walked out of Cuba with $10 left so i had to very sparingly purchase gifts!
tip 08 — get a tour guide! we had one every day of the trip & i would not recommend a trip to Cuba without one. we had the same guide the first 5 days & he was AMAZING. he was so funny & personable & made our trip so much fun & without him it probably wouldn't have been nearly as memorable or enjoyable. his name was Yassir! find him & hire him!
comment below if you have any other questions about the trip & i'm happy to help! xx