for PhotoHavana Tour
Cubans are open, effusive, polite, funny, candid and practical, with a common sense approach to life coming not only from their particular old history but their history of the last 50 years under an American embargo. To be Cuban is to have found a way to survive with dignity, humour and patience.
Here is some general and Cuba-specific information you ought to know.
Photography is not a one-way activity. When you engage in serious image-making you become involved in an art that has a history of respectful, intelligent and informed creation. We must, at the same time, acknowledge that photography has been – and still can be, a force for enforcing negative stereotypes, may abuse individual privacy and can easily lead to false impressions. All photographers who join our trips are required to make themselves aware of the current ethics & guidelines prevalent in our field.
Here are some organizations with excellent guidelines:
As a Caribbean sub-tropical island Cuba's climate offers the visitor year-round availability – at least if one loves summer heat and humidity! Like many such places, there are two seasons: the dry (winter) season from November through April with average day temperatures of 21 to 28º C (average night temperatures are around 18 and 20 º C) and the rainy (summer) season from May through October, when average daily temperatures are around 30°C. Late afternoon tropical showers will be a daily occurrence in the humid wet season and are looked forward to by one and all; these rains bring cooling breezes. The Caribbean hurricane season goes from June 1 through the end of November with most storms, historically, in September and October.
Most electrical outlets in Cuba's residences are 110V/60Hz, mostly of the flat two-pronged type used in the United States (Type A). Many international hotels have outlets for 220V (sometimes ONLY 220V) in the round, two-pronged, European-style plug (Type C). It is a good idea to carry a regular U.S. 3-prong (grounded) adapter for your electronic devices as some older buildings only have the U.S. 2-prong outlet.
Like any large metropolis Havana has its share of gypsy taxis. Not all of them are mechanically safe nor are their drivers always honest when it comes to fares.
Take officially medallioned taxis. There are autos, coco-taxis (three-wheeled motorcycles with curved yellow roofs) and bici-taxis (pedi-cabs). All will try to scam you on fares. Determine the fare or rate before you take off or ask them to use the meter and take the shortest/quickest distance. Good Luck!
The U.S. Department of State warns that coco-taxis are unsafe due to speed and lack of seat belts. Use your own judgement here and Good Luck! (I do take them for in-town hops.)
Health & Fitness
The water supply in Havana is drinkable... but, just as every city has it's own bacterial thing going on that takes some adjustment, so too does Havana. Better to drink bottled water and be on the safe side.
No vaccinations are required for Americans to visit Cuba.
The Cuban Caribbean sun can be intense. Take precautions by wearing a hat and a non-sticky sunscreen.
From 8:30am or 9:00am to 12:30pm and from 01:30pm to 05:30pm. Monday – Friday for government offices plus Saturday for many commercial establishments. Tourist facilities are often open every day.
Returning Home With Purchases
Each American can bring back into the U.S. up to $400 of Cuban goods for personal use of which up to $100 may be a combination of alcohol and/or tobacco products.
Exempt from the above limits are Cuban artworks and informational materials, including books, films, posters, photographs and CDs. Souvenirs and touristy handicrafts are not considered works of art. Original works of contemporary art require an export seal or export permission letter to exit the country. This documentation is provided by the artist or gallery.
Also exempt from the above limits are Cuban artworks. Original works of contemporary art require an export seal or export permission letter to exit the country. This documentation is provided by the artist or gallery. Souvenirs and touristy handicrafts are not considered works of art.
Cuba is in the Eastern Time Zone just like New York City and Miami.
Official & Commemorative Dates
The following dates are official public holidays:
Although not holidays, the following are considered important dates:
.Words from wise travelers. If you go to Cuba looking for problems you will be all consumed, as they exist in abundance. On the other hand, if you go in the spirit of learning about a wonderful people and unique culture, and are prepared to fully engage and contribute, your rewards will be unequalled. The Cubans are as happy to have you as their guests as you are about getting to know them. Race, sex and gays Race and sex and gay issues are up side down compared to North American mores. Color is nebulous. Only a minority of Cubans is white or black. Everyone else seems to fall in between. Don’t assume local jokes about color are necessarily racist. The context is different. There are dozens of shades of color and most Cubans are happy, if not proud, of this condition. Cuba is not like other Latin countries where women get pinched and squeezed on their private parts. Cuban men are above this. However Cuban men are not beyond issuing very flirtatious comments to women. Women travelers can answer back to them as they please. Suffice it to say Cuba is the safest country in the world for female travelers. “No means no,” reigns supreme in Cuba. Homophobia like racism cannot be compared to the North American extreme that can verge on hostility or violence. In Cuba, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are safer than in the States. Their situation is similar to the counterparts in Canada. Straight people in Cuba are refreshingly open-minded. Panhandlers Some people get upset when they read this section. OK. We can attest to many instances where those who disregarded our advice have ended up losing a lot of money. We strongly advise against giving money to individuals who approach you on the streets. While in tourist areas you’ll encounter professional scam artists who pester foreign guests with sob stories that win them hundreds of dollars a week. When an individual approaches you on the street and asks for money, or with offers to provide guide or other services, just say no. Wag your finger back-and-forth with determination (indicating your are not interested) and move on. You risk getting ripped-off. Don’t be shy, don’t feel bad, and don’t let them waste your precious time in Cuba. To do otherwise could cost you heartache and your wallet! Remember, nearly half of every dollar you spend on this trip goes into the island’s healthcare and education system – to Cubans who need and deserve it.