2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good intro to Cuba, 26 Oct 2012
Eyewitness travel Cuba
I looked at few guides before going to Cuba and settled on this one. I visited Santiago de Cuba so I can only speak for that it said but it was an excellent guide
I like the mixture of words and pictures. I used the map of the town it was very helpful as most of Santiago is covered in narrow streets with high buildings so you cannot tell the difference. The street names are poorly signed. I recognised one building a very colourful school where I stayed and I used that as my marker.
After few days I had that building and Parque Cespedes which is in the centre of town. I was in Cuba for learning Spanish and drumming. I am sure there are plenty of other sights etc. but I was very pleased to be there for those two reasons. They certainly know their Spanish as their English in general is poor and also anything to do with music is big so the drumming was literally a hit
The most interesting sight is the variety of vehicles. Some modern vehicles like Hyundais but mainly old American cars, motorbikes, converted lorries who carry passengers like a cattle truck and a large variety of Russian and Chinese vehicles all belching out pollution. On one of the postcards I bought your can clearly see the haze of fumes.
The history and social conditions are well documented. I took things to give away and they loved them T shirts, pens stationery etc. I left all my wash things with the family I stayed with and they appreciated them.
My drumming teacher liked my open toed sandals so I gave them to him they were considerably better than his own.
I gave away a white Dunlop sports t shirt someone liked. My daughter thought it was very funny that anyone wanted my clothes I am 62 but I was the best dressed senior citizen in Cuba but the competition was poor. I expect to be on the cover of Vogue Cuba.
The pictures and descriptions are accurate but do not convey the poverty of the place. The people are friendly and not overbearing but you could see they were having a hard life. Simple things like changing money were a chore and the heat was oppressive so you had to walk in the shade and go in air conditioned or buildings with fans.
Although safe I am not sure is the place for an unaccompanied female. I was obviously foreign and most days in the part of town I was in me as the only foreigner in the street. They live outdoors a lot and will call out to you.
The money system is confusing but I was aware of it. Importantly there is an exit tax of 25 CUCs but it has to be in cash
Public toilets are non-existent. Some toilets in buildings I visited were disgusting as the water does not work. The food was plain but ultimately boring. I had one meal out which was very good being lobster and I was given as the speciality sauce a bottle of HP. Some people would hesitate to have it on the table. It is interesting what others find exotic.
A great experience but what I was doing i.e. learning Spanish and drumming on you own in a casa particular is not for the faint hearted but maybe not as tough as bungee jumping of white water rafting.
I was there for cultural reasons I can now habla espanol and play congas and bongos so it does what it says on the tin.
Excellent books as it covered all I needed to know. I will give it foive.