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Cuba 10day visit with Elderly and Child

Fellow travelers:

Once again I seek advice from your very helpful group. I am traveling to Cuba for 10 days on November 20th with my elderly father and my 9 years old son. I have checked out all books available at the local library and I am trying to learn as much as possible before visiting the country. You will realize how much I still have to learn by my questions.

My father was born in Cuba so we will visit his family for a few days, rest of the time we will be tourists. His family live in Encrucijada, Villa Clara so we are considering renting a car.

My questions are as follows:

1. I would like to know your advice for or against renting a car as opposed to hiring a driver. How was the driving? My driving experience is limited to busy cities in US, Costa Rica and Spain. Can I rent a car with a GPS (it REALLY helped in Costa Rica).
What companies have you used to rent a car. Can you give me an idea of pricing. Should I rent it here or wait till I am in the country?

2. We are looking for a modest priced hotel or home to stay in while in Havana. We need one room with two beds, nothing fancy, but safe.

3. Mobile phone: Will customs permit cell phones? Should I take our phones?
I have an iPhone and my dad a regular flip mobile phone. We have AT&T. What are the carrier(s) in Cuba? In CR we did not have phones but we took our walkie talkies and made due. Can we do the same in Cuba? Can we buy a SIM card and will it work in US phone?

4. My son and I are very interested in nature. We are looking
for National Parks, wild life, birding, volcanoes, places to snorkle, caves, hikes etc. Any recommendations welcomed? Will customs permit us to bring our masks, snorkel and fins?

5. Yes, I am packing TPaper, hand cleaner, and some general prescriptions in case we get sick. What do you recommend? Did you have problems finding bottled water? I was considering a small filter system by Brita.

6. What is the exchange rate? Besides the airport, can we exchange at banks? Should I forget the traveler's checks and only bring cash?

Thank you kindly for your advice, I will posts our findings and travel adventures upon our return.

Sincerely,

Ribota

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