1. Lana Goepfert
    February 13, 2017 / 6:57 am

    I love it. The photos are fantastic and I enjoyed your honest, heart felt writing of “daily life”. That’s what is it all about anywhere in the world.
    Did you learn to Salsa? We’re learning that form a of dance from a co-worker at Suttle-Straus who is from the Dominican Republic. It’s a good work out.
    Thank you for sharing. Lana

    • Andrew Scott
      February 13, 2017 / 8:09 pm

      Thanks for the kind comments, Lana! I “learned” a bit of salsa while there, but it was hard to keep my eyes off of the incredibly-talented dancers I was sharing the floor with. I’m hoping to take some classes in the future though! And yes, it is quite the workout!

  2. Cheryl V
    February 12, 2018 / 12:58 pm

    Hi Andrew!
    We’re researching a trip to Havana from the Chicago area. We have passports and are thinking of traveling under the Support of the Cuban People category. We were wondering do we need to order both the Visa and Tourist card in advance? Are they one in the same thing? And after preparing itinerary, do we just need to have it on hand in case someone asks for it or does it need to be submitted to an agency beforehand?

    And you mentioned getting Euros instead of US Dollars due to a better exchange rate. Can you expand on that a little? Thanks so much. Sorry for the torrent of questions! Very insightful and timely article.

    • Andrew Scott
      February 13, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Hey, Cheryl!

      Glad you enjoyed the article. When converting into CUC from USD, the Cuban Government will charge the usual 3% change fee and tack on an additional 10% fee for using USD, which isn’t present on any other currency. Since the CUC is tied directly to the USD at a 1-1 ratio, $100 instantly becomes 87 CUC (100-13 in fees), whereas $100 converted to Euros becomes 97 CUC (100-3 in fees). I don’t know what your exchange rate is for taking out Euros (or if you have some already lying around at home), but assuming it’s lower than 10% (I looked and BMO Harris Bank in Chicago has no exchange fee), it will be less expensive to bring Euros.

      Sorry for the confusion about Visas vs. Tourist Cards! They’re actually two different things (I’ve corrected the text to illustrate this if you want to check it out). US citizens only need a Tourist Card, and yes, you need to have it before arriving in Cuba. Most airlines allow you to purchase one when you buy your ticket, which you’ll collect when you arrive at the gate for the flight to Havana (I assume in Miami if you’re coming from Chicago). Otherwise, some people have purchased the cards directly at the gate, but there is always the risk that you get stuck in a long line during a short layover.

      You do not have to prepare any documentation prior to your trip to travel to Cuba legally. The itinerary is for the U.S. Government, once you return from Cuba. You do not have to submit it anywhere, unless the U.S. Government were to request a copy from you, something they can do for up to 5 years after your visit.

      I hope that helps, Cheryl!


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