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Old 07-15-2012, 06:34 PM
 
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Default How to stay cheaply in Cuba?

When doctor makes about 2 bucks a day, you know it should be cheap to rent a room but not so in Cuba. The government has their hands in everything there it seems. I'm wondering if anyone has found a way of staying with a family in Cuba without jeopardizing their home situation. If no money changed hands, would that be OK? How would the government know if any money changed hands? Surely there are lots of ways of compensating people there either through tutoring English and other subjects, skills, or just filling them in on so much about life in North America and wherever else you've been.

Another option is camping. You sure don't hear about many foreigners camping in Cuba.

There's no way I'm going to spend a doctor's salary for my accommodation. Especially knowing almost all that money goes right back to that government (and I use that term extremely loosely) of theirs.

There's got to be a way of living with the locals financially.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
2,783 posts, read 4,771,770 times
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The goverment is involved. It's a socialist system. There's lots of Casa Particulars around. Just because they don't have money doesn't mean they don't know you do.

There is a completely different currency system for tourists. It's only fairly recently that Cubans have been permitted to have tourist Pesos. Tourists are still not permitted to deal in Cuban domestic currency.
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:04 PM
 
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Thank you Mr Obvious. I had no idea Cuba was socialist. I thought it was run by the Tea Party. Boy am I in for a surprise when I get off the plane.

> Tourists are still not permitted to deal in Cuban domestic currency.

That is ridiculous. The tourists that use the tourist currency are idiots that are too lazy to read about life in Cuba. They deserve to pay 10x as much for the same thing. I'm kind of a free market type of guy I guess. Any slob can follow the herd and pay what the herd pays. The point of coming to a forum is to think outside of the box. When fruit costs pennies, when doctors make as much in a month as a minimum labor guy in America does in a few hours....you know life is cheap there. The challenge, and hence the post here, is to live like a local. That way I can better understand their life. I've traveled quite extensively and this is always the challenge, no matter if you're in a rich country or a poor one. If you can't be absorbed by their social fabric, you'll never grasp their societal structure and its unique and richly complex framework.

I in no way want to risk jeopardizing someone's home as I've heard of unregistered people losing their homes by renting to tourists or getting a huge fine. That's why I was thinking of a non-financial situation. If no money changes hands, who would care? I'm "a friend" from the mainland visiting. People do that all the time in Cuba. Mostly they're family of course. Too bad I don't look more Hispanic. Maybe I'll be their long lost, adopted son.....LOL.

If this is too difficult, fraught with too many hassles, then camping is the only option. Then you have to have a tent that allows you enough movement and ventilation and bugproofing for you to retain your sanity for a few weeks. Valuables could be stashed with a friend. Oh wait....I have no friends in Cuba...LOL. There's always the sand. Makes a rather anonymous (and abrasive) safe.

I think most people would bristle at the notion you're supporting that tyrannical system of government by staying at a Casa Particular. Because that's EXACTLY what you're doing. The people running it get a pittance. Just like when you visit North Korea. Almost all your money spent supports the prison camps and the torture. If you want to support atrocities, just be a tourist in the right places of the world!
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
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Well clearly you're the expert since you have this all sorted out, and were just merely posting questions to flaunt your vast knowledge.

Have a super trip.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:08 AM
 
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I'm trying to promote a discussion to come up with long term accommodation solutions in Cuba which appear to be daunting. Don't want to appear pompous. I just want to share what I've learned, and what makes sense to me. If you disagree on something I said, voice your opinion. That's how we learn. Shared knowledge. Its a good thing.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Canada
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Okay, I just don't think you understand the concept of a Soviet style communist state. When the government says it's prohibited to deal in local currency and you're restricted in where you can stay, your immediate idea shouldn't be "how can I defy the laws of the local government so I don't have to pay as much?" It's not a socialist democracy like Sweden, it's a one party communist country and few have the stones to break its laws.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:02 PM
 
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And you think that anybody that's read or knows anything about Cuba shops with tourist money? That's the first rule of business when you venture outside unless you love to get ripped off. Do you think the government is going to arrest you for shopping with the wrong money? I've read a few sites about Cuba and never heard of a tourist that had any problems shopping with the "wrong" currency.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:37 AM
 
Location: San Francisco
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city2u, ignore the Americans who are simply parroting what their terrified government has told them about a harmless neighbour. Those of us who are respected enough by our leadership to form our own opinions about Cuba tend to have more accurate information than those who think there's a government killing squad on the streets of Havana ready to snuff out any tourist that DARES to use the nacionale peso.

There are rooms available for rent, but they're usually in resort towns and are state run. You can use the CUP, but it's not going to do you much good for accommodation unless you can pass yourself off as a Cuban. I'm sure you know this is impossible, even for most Spanish speakers. Also, with the housing shortage in Cuba, I imagine the locals will not take kindly to you if you take up a room reserved for Cubans and pay pennies for it. With regards to casas, you might be able to work out an exchange where you can stay for three weeks with one family within the casa network, then another family for a few weeks, then another family, and so on and so forth. Casa managers and owners can set this up for you, they all know dozens of casa operators in their towns or cities and they pass around business frequently. The money you give to a casa goes directly to the family who is required to pay for a private enterprise license, which is apparently quite expensive... but the money doesn't go directly to the government without benefiting the family first. I'm not sure how long a tourist visa lasts, I think it's only a couple weeks, but many Canadians take a quick flight to Mexico or DR (flights are cheap), and hop back around. Cuban authorities don't really care because they collect more in tourist visa fees and produce the tourist visas by the millions, but if you do this many consecutive times and they recognize you, they may be concerned that you're staying too long. At the same time, it's a paperwork country, not a network of computers and servers with a query tool country. They don't have the equipment to scan anything.

I can't seem to find a way to save on accommodation as a tourist, casas are cheapest and offer the most intimate experience, hotels are outrageously expensive and pretty crappy. If you have a decent grasp of Spanish (or failing that, an ability to point and nod), you can save bundles by using CUP over the CUC for street food, paladars (though if you're a tourist, many will ask for you to pay in CUC), and concerts and the like. If you're really resourceful, you can get by in Cuba on $10CUC (~250 CUP) a day, outside of your accommodation.

Last edited by illcosby; 07-27-2012 at 11:15 AM..
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:46 AM
 
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To illcosby
Great info in your reply. Many thanks. What you said makes a lot of sense.
I'm still wondering if its possible to stay with people with no financial exchange. I wonder what do friends do when they visit in Cuba? Doesn't the homeowner have to get a permit for them to stay there? I usually get up early and don't visit prostitutes and have no interest in bringing home girls and getting the latest incarnation of STD's. So I might blend in with a family quite well, especially if I can devote a portion of each day teaching them stuff.

So it all comes down to what does a family have to do in Cuba to host a friend for a few weeks?
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:15 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
232 posts, read 192,619 times
Reputation: 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by city2u View Post
To illcosby
Great info in your reply. Many thanks. What you said makes a lot of sense.
I'm still wondering if its possible to stay with people with no financial exchange. I wonder what do friends do when they visit in Cuba? Doesn't the homeowner have to get a permit for them to stay there? I usually get up early and don't visit prostitutes and have no interest in bringing home girls and getting the latest incarnation of STD's. So I might blend in with a family quite well, especially if I can devote a portion of each day teaching them stuff.

So it all comes down to what does a family have to do in Cuba to host a friend for a few weeks?
A friend of mine spent two months in Vedado, staying with a family that did not have a license. He didn't have a good experience there because he was paranoid about the family getting busted and being without a place to stay, so he only left the house and entered the house when people weren't around. The family would have been in trouble with the authorities, while my friend would have been driven to a hotel and ordered to book a room (and hotels are expenssssssive). Remember too, that each neighbourhood has a committee of informers who rat on citizens who don't do everything exactly by the book.

You could always risk it, ask a family that you trust and are comfortable with, to keep you off the books. But I personally wouldn't risk getting them into trouble, Cubans are generally too nice for that. It looks like a casa or series of casas might be your best bet.
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