Claire Boobbyer shares advice on what you need to know before taking a trip to Cuba, including unwanted attention...
Unaccompanied women will receive constant piropos – flirtatious remarks from Cuban men. These are not aggressive, and mostly amusing. The attention can get wearing, though. If you don’t respond or make eye contact the moment will pass.
Jineteros (hustlers) will try to divert new arrivals to B&Bs where they receive commission. If you’ve booked a casa and know the address, don’t be swayed by the following lines: the landlord has moved/died/is full/he’s my cousin and has asked me to take you to his neighbour’s house.
The Cuban convertible peso (CUC), the tourist currency, also known as dóllares or divisa; and the Cuban local peso (CUP), known as moneda nacional and pesos Cubanos, used to buy newspapers, street food, cinema tickets and local bus/cart rides. Both are signed by the $ symbol. All tourist services are paid in CUC.
Buying bottled water can become expensive. You need to drink plenty though, so invest in a SteriPen water purifying wand.
Bring all photographic equipment, batteries etc with you: you won’t be able to buy replacements. Also bring a hard drive – you can’t back-up online due to the cost of the internet (£4-7.50 an hour), slow speed and narrow bandwidth.