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Teen to Cuba

Old Mar 11th, 2003, 01:32 PM
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Teen to Cuba

My 15 year old daughter is going to Cuba with her school this weekend and as this is her first time away from home I would love some advise from anyone who has been there. Things to remember to take - things not to do while there. Type of clothing to take and what not to take. Anything valuable
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 03:34 PM
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Hi TerriR:
Well first off, remember that Cuba is sub-tropical so dress as you would for nice summer temperatures. (Sorry, don't know where you are coming from).
Today's temperatures in Havana were a high of 30C (86F) with nightly lows around 24C (75F). You might consider a sweater/sweatshirt if she feels cool at night. Other than that, heaven forbid that I offer advise to a teenage girl on what to wear!
Sensible walking shoes would be appropriate depending on what the school has planned for them (assume it is a chaperoned trip) and for sure the Cubans LOVE to DANCE, so appropriate shoes to dance in would be great.

Like most travels in foreign countries, don't wear expensive jewellery etc. and use some common sense rules about talking to strangers and stay with her group and not wander off alone. People WILL try to talk to them, not necessarily out of malice, but mostly curiosity. Cubans are very friendly and love to interact with tourists. To learn and practice english and just to know more about the outside world. So it's a judgement call as to who to talk to, but in a group and staying with her friends I forsee no problems at all. Just common sense, the same as you would use anywhere.

What to take and what no to do. Well don't trade on the black market would be good advise, though it is unlikely that anybody would approach her for anything except cigars, and even then I doubt that most 15-year-old girls would have to be worried about being offered cigars. Take things to trade. Like any school trip, I am going to assume that organized activities are planned where they will interact with local cuban students in the same age range. So trade items such as pens, paper, nice smelly soaps, toiletries would always be good items to take. Perhaps a school sweatshirt if they make a special friend.

Take lots of film and BATTERIES. Batteries are expensive and always hard to come by in Cuba, so I always take a bulk economy pack of AA size batteries that I leave with my Cuban friends. And there is lots to photograph so lots of film is good.

Hope some of this helps.

Steve
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 08:04 AM
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Steve,
Thank you so much for the advise for my teen.Another question for you. she wants to take her discman and I am concerned as I heard that Walkit Talkies were confiscated. Iknow a discman is not the same but????? Also would you have any suggestion for the amount of money she might need on a daily basis. They are in Havana for 3 days cooking in the Culinary Arts School and then to Varadero for 4 at an all inclusive so she really doesn't need any money for food. But any suggestions??? I know it's a very open question but as you have been there a lot maybe some idea!!! I really appreciate your advise.
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 08:26 AM
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Hi Steve, Could you please give me your whole e.mail address and or website - I would love to see the photos mentioned in other mail.
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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Hi Terri:

Money.... wow what an open ended question. I usually budget $100. USD for my expences while in country. But that includes eating out at nice restaurants, beer, taxis, mojitos, admissions, cigars, and wine. Most of those sound like they can be eliminated for your daughter. So just a reasonable amount of money for souvenirs and stuff. I don't know how responsible your daughter is, but my suggestion would be to give her a couple hundred USD and tell her to be responsible and bring home what she doesn't need. Only you can decide if she is prepared for this level of trust.

As to the diskman or walkman. No problem at all. The only thing the Cubans don't like (and will confiscate) is walkie-talkies (indluding FRS) which could be used for subversive purposes. Also any device that is a high electricity consumption item. Things such as immersion heaters, kettles, toasters, etc. Cuba has to generate a great percentage of their electricity by burning oil which for the most part must be imported. So they are very carefull about the use of electricity. You will find compact flouroescent bulbs everywhere in Cuba. Nice to see a country be ecologically sound, even if it is basically driven by economic necessity. However as I noted in my prior post, she should not depend upon getting batteries for the diskman in Cuba. Bring all she needs with her. Most homes/hotels will have 110 volt power to re-charge the diskman if it is that variety. I hope she likes Salsa music

As to my Cuban photos. The prior website where I had posted these images is no longer available to me, but I have found a website called www.photosig.com where I am starting to post the photos. Here is a link that will take you directly to the Cuban Portfolio. However note that I am only allowed to post a single photo per day, so it is a work in progress and will take me some time to get it complete. As of today there are only three photos posted, but they will increase each day. If you have trouble with the link, go to the photosig.com website first, then paste this link and hit enter. Should work. Oh, and you can send me an email from the link on the site. Just click the blue envelope symbol beside my name.

http://www3.photosig.com/userphotos.php?portfolioId=77450

Oh and Mom...... try not to worry too much. I am sure she will have an exciting and fun time in Cuba.

Steve

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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 09:04 AM
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Hi Terri again.

Oh darn..... I just re-read my post and realised that I should have said that I budget $100 USD PER DAY.

I often bring money home again, but I always like to NOT have to worry about watching pennies on vacation. That's what vacations are for.

Steve
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 11:08 AM
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My advise is NOt to GO... believe me
there is nothing to see or do in Cuba...
The city is completely deteriorated and
ugly. Not to mention The Abusive Communist regime of Fidel Castro. He is
the owner of the Farm... and anything
can happen in Cuba... because its a
criminal, mad man the one who dictates
the country. So, I advise, to change
plans. There are a lot of beautiful,
and nice countries in the world that
are not under the Communist Regime.



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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 11:13 AM
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Steve,

Love the Old Lady with Cigar!
A great picture.

Please tell: Is it ok to take pictures of people and would you recommend to ask them before? Give them something?

I once ran into an uncomfortable situation in the High Atlas, Morocco, and since then, I am somewhat careful.
Thanks again.
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 11:57 AM
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Cuba is a beautiful country with beautiful people.
However they are very poor. In Havana the ladies dressed-up smoking cigars are there to make money and will ask for $1 U.S. if you take a photo.
$1 goes a long way in Cuba. Your daughter will not need a lot of spending money as things are cheap and there's not a great deal to buy. Most people bring home excellent cigars and rum but obviously that is "out" for a 15 yr-old.
You may like to look at my trip report which has info about Cuba & Havana: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/martin.dearnley/cuba/page11.html

Regards
Martin
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 02:13 PM
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Hi Terri:

First off I apologise for the rantings of the idiot MNPAGES who obviously needs to renew his prescription drugs.

As to taking photos of people. I ALWAYS ask either "El permiso por favor" which is a simple "Permission Please" or more specifically "El permiso para la foto por favor" which is a specific request to take a photo. And yes, when allowed I always give a $1.00 USD tip. Gyromancer is correct that a dollar goes a long way for a Cuban local. I also carry packets of gum which is universally referred to as "Chicklets" in Cuba. When photographing children, I ask the mother or parent for permission, but give some chicklets to the child. Big smiles always result.

One old man who I photographed was for a book called "The Millennium Photo Project, Dawn of the 21st Century". I will be posting that photo on PhotoSig shortly. After the book published, and on my next trip back to Cuba, I took a copy of the book with me and found the old man again. I presented him with a copy of the book. You should have seen his face. He was so happy to become "famous". For me, that one moment made the trip worthwhile and hopefully made him think nice things about this Canadian photographer.

I always try to remember that although the people and situations we meet and see while travelling might be unusual and photogenic to us, the people involved are not zoo animals. They have feelings and deserve our respect and dignity if we want to act as photographers. I have even had local Cuban military and police pose for photos. Ask nice and be treated nice always seems to work.

I am still working on getting a photo of Fidel. Or me with Fidel. Maybe one day. That would be something.

Anyway, tell your daughter to have fun and for heavens sake.... stop worrying.

Steve
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