Dos and Don’ts
Cuban Dos and Don’ts. What todo on the crocodile island.
1. Take all every opportunity to get in touch with the locals This Advice I gave already in my Cook Island report but the same applies also to Cuba. I have met so many very friendly Cubans and I really enjoyed every moment I can interact with them. You can learn a lot from people who have such a strong history.
2. Mojito For me the best cocktail in the world. I drank it almost daily because you get it almost everywhere. And they do it better than anyone else.
3. See the crab migration Its not only a Cuban phenomenon. There are many places where land crabs migrate but when you are already there its for sure something you must see. An estimated 3.5 million crabs are run over each year by cars. Time your visit so that you can see this but keep them alive so that this fantastic phenomenon can be preserved for the future.
4. Stay in Casa Particulares. This is not only the way to have a very cheap private accommodation but also the chance to get close to the locals. I have had very good experience with it. In all cases it was a clean and satisfying accommodation. Of course you might also see some where you walk backwards through the door good ones are not hard to find. An average rate for a Casa Particulares is 15-20CUC in total, half board.
5. Try DIY fishing on the Cayos On the north side of Cuba there are a some islands connected to the mainland. The so called Cayos like Cayo Santa Mario, Cayo Coco. This islands and especially the areas between mainland and the island is a perfect habitat for a big number of species. There are bonefish, tarpon, barracudas and many more. Especially the bridges are pure hot spots because of the current.
6. Visit a cigar factory What would Cuba without cigars. Its a part of Cuban culture so don’t miss it visiting one of the factories that produce them. Watch Cuban girls roll the cigars on her thighs. Its also a chance to buy them cheaper directly from the factory. But they also sell faked ones so care for a original banderole
7. Visit the museum of the revolution It is a cultural program but a very interesting one. It tells the full story of the revolution and also how the Cubans defeat the Americans in the bay of pigs. Very interesting also the Granma. Granma is the yacht that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba in November 1956 for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista.
8. Enjoy traveling with the Cubans Nowhere else I have seen a bigger variety of traveling. There are tricycles, bicycles, donkey or horse-drawn carriages and any kind of self constructed vehicles. Even on the highway you see a lot of unusual things. If you have a rented car you maybe are stopped by a hitchhiker. That’s nothing you should be afraid of. Take the advantage of the Cuban navigation system. They show you the way to drive for a free ride. Keep in mind that this is the Cuban way of public transportation. Only a few people can afford an own car. And there is nothing better to get some stories.
9. Melia Cayo Santa Mario Wow what an awesome hotel. We stayed there 4 days. It’s not cheap but you get a lot for your money. That it is super clean and and everything is perfectly designed, the food is excellent, etc, etc, is just a little something. More important is the extra service they offer. No not a Tai massage with happy end : ). You get your own butler who reads in your eyes. Want a cocktail on the beach? You get it, Want ten more? You get them. Want that he is preparing the Jacuzzi for you. He does it. Want a cup of ice cream at 2 in the morning. He is happy to serve you. That’ something I haven’t seen ever before in my good bourgeois life. And seen from that side its a bargain staying there. And last but not least, I saw there the most beautiful reef of Cuba.
1. Stay away from too commercial attractions Although Cuba has not changed for long time you will find a lot of attractions that are modern. Varadero is such an attraction. Stay away! Nothing there looks or feels Cuban. The beach is said to have the longest and widest flat and fully sandy zone is in real live one of the most boring beaches I have seen. I haven’t seen much fish there nor anything else. Just sand for hundreds and hundreds of yards.
2. Don’t swim in the channels Seriously don’t try swimming in the channels of the cayos. I didn’t try swimming but I tried to fee a snagged fly. I made the mistake to use a straight 80lbs leader so in every case the fly line would break before the leader quits. I waded into the channel and tried to free the fly. Theoretical no problem but practical very dangerous. The current was close to carry me away. And don’t forget that the channels are food hot spots for every kind of predatory animal, including the crocodiles. Yes there are crocs on Cuba!
3. Stay away from hotels and accommodations that have a bad rating. on the vacation rating sites like Tripadvisor, etc.. There are also some really dirty accommodations available. Check the ratings and book accordingly. The more mainstream the hotel looks the more less I would expect from it.
4. Don’t eat every fish you caught Be aware of Ciguatera. It is a toxin that originally produced by dinoflagellates that adheres to coral, algae and seaweed, where they are eaten by fish. In this way the toxins move up the food chain and end up on your table. It is very dangerous!! You really need to know which fish you can eat and which fish you should not eat. Many times nothing happens but please be warned. Especially predatory fish contain more the toxin.
5. Don’t stay at only one place Cuba is big and you need a lot of time to see it entirely. On the other side every Cuban village offers another fascinating aspect of an easy life without western influence. Feel the magic of the Caribbean lifestyle. It is contagious!!! See Trinidad with his colonial flair. Or Cienfuegos, the city of the sugar
6. Don’t get bothered by the cigar sellers They are all time present in Havana. I didn’t recognized them for a long time because I was distracted from the city. But once they are present in your mind they can be a pain in the ass. Try to ignore them and don’t discuss with them. For me it worked very well when I said that I’m a non-smoker or that we have bought already from a friend of him.
Next chapter: Fly fishing on the Cayos