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Cuba

Things to do

Things to do

  • Walk along Havana's Malécon during the early evening and take in some of Havana's culture. Be cautious about prostitutes, as mentioned above; they are heavy in this area, especially in sections where rich white male tourists are known to walk.
  • If you have the money (usually about US$60 or the euro equivalent), go to the Tropicana, which is an ex-Mafia hangout owned and operated by the state. The Tropicana is located, as it has always been, deep within a strategically tree-heavy area with a narrow road within the city, back behind the trees, and since its admission price is far too expensive for any average Cuban to afford, the people who go there are almost all international tourists. The club still has old-style traditions such as table service, lavish costumes, dazzling lights, a coat check area, etc. Real (but quite small) cigars are also available and can be smoked inside the venue, including near the stage. The Tropicana is so well-kept that it is almost a time warp (with the exception of the modern stage-equipment and the lack of a dress code) and, so long as you can forgive yourself the fact that most Cubans cannot afford what you are doing, and that the people who work there could not be there if they were not employed there, your night is sure to be extremely enjoyable.
  • Go see a neighbourhood performance of Afro-Cuban dance, which exists in almost every neighbourhood.
  • Go see local music, which exists in almost every neighbourhood.
  • Go to the clubs, all of which heavily play things like Cuban reggae and Cuban rap, as well as more traditional-sounding Cuban music with modern lyrics.
  • Go to the beaches — but be careful, as in Jamaica, of being solicited by prostitutes and con people, both male and female.
  • Don't stay at a resort, unless you don't want to experience the local culture. You will probably be bored and things around you may feel fake, gaudy and overdone.
  • Go out in the countryside and talk with farmers. Check out the area markets. There are two types of markets -- state-run markets, which give food very cheaply and for which Cubans keep ration books (and that you probably can't shop at because you won't have a ration book of your own), and profit-oriented markets where farmers sell their produce directly, which of course, is quite a bit more expensive.
  • Visit some small towns. Each Cuban small town follows roughly the same pattern, a central park with its Jose Marti tribute, the local cultural center, the one, two (or none) casa particulares, and the municipal museum. The museums are usually small buildings carrying artifacts covering the region's entire history (from the indigenous population pre-Columbus to Castro's revolution and a bit beyond).
  • Expect to hear a lot of Carlos Santana blaring out of windows at odd times of the day.
  • Drink lots of fresh fruit juice, which basically flows like water in Cuba due to the abundance of fresh fruit.

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