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U.S. citizens and money in Cuba

Old Nov 1st, 2003, 11:00 AM
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U.S. citizens and money in Cuba

We would like to spend a month or more this winter in Cuba. On a moderate budget we might need upwards of $2500. I wouldn't like to carry that much cash around. As Americans, what are our options?

thanks,
Jed
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Old Nov 1st, 2003, 11:46 AM
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Hola Jed:

Slim and none.....

Seriously, your options are pretty limited for Americans in Cuba. You cannot use a credit card or travellers cheque if it is drawn on an American financial institution.

You don't say how you are travelling to Cuba. One option is (for example) if you are travelling through Canada, then get here early and buy some traveller cheques here in Canada that ARE cashable in Cuba. I assume the same could be done at a bank in Nassau or other third country you are travelling through.
Also, split whatever funds you are carrying between yourself and your partner so if you loose your wallet, not all is lost.
Also use the hotel safe and only carry each day what you think you will need.
Use typical common sense travellers precautions and you shouldn't have any problems. Don't flash big wads of cash. I always split my money amongst several pockets. One contains only small bills used for daily drinks, lunch etc. Any other "major" cash I carry is deep within another pocket (with zipper) where it is more secure. A money belt is another good option, but in the tropics can become "sticky" wearing it under your clothes all day. Your choice.

Personally, I have never taken anything except cash and a Canadian credit card. However I stay at a private Casa Particular (legal guest home)in Havana and leave my excess cash there. I have known the family for a long time and it's perfectly safe there.

Hope this helps you out.
Enjoy the Cuban experience.
Steve
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Old Nov 1st, 2003, 12:09 PM
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Steve,

Thanks much for your detailed answer. I think it will help us considerably.
I guess I just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing anything. Would you care to share the name of your Casa Particulare? Will understand if you don't.

cheers,
Jed
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Old Nov 1st, 2003, 12:31 PM
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Hola Jed:
I stay at a Casa called Casa Magaly. Magaly and Lesme are the husband and wife who run the house. It is VERY clean and comfortable and is located in the suburb of Altabana, approximately halfway between Jose Marti airport (Havana) and Habana Vieja (Old Havana).
Rates are about (you negotiate individually) $25 USD per night (one person) and $40 USD per night (two people, sharing one room). This INCLUDES a nice cooked breakfast, HOT showers, A/C in the bedrooms for comfortable sleeping. Magaly will also cook dinner etc., but normally I do breakfast only at the house and eat my lunch and dinners out at one of the many great restaurants in Havana.
The house is about a 15 to 20 minute cab ride ($4-$8) from Revolution Square or Old Havana.
Here is a direct link to my website with a page on Casa Magaly.

http://photopilot.tripod.com/vivacuba/id40.html

The complete website is at
http://photopilot.tripod.com

Note that there is NO www in the URL and that it is a free hosted site, so it is bandwidth limited. If you can't get in today because the usage has been exceeded, try again tomorrow.
The site contains photos and full description/commentary on my travels in and around Cuba. Have a nice read.

Any further questions, feel free to ask or send me a direct email from the Contact Steve tab on the website. If you are interested in staying at the Casa, send me a direct email and I can give you the contact info.

ciao
Steve
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 04:31 AM
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Couldn't you open a Canadian bank account, and apply for a Canadian Visa or Mastercard?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 06:09 AM
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Aren't there legal implecations for an American to be in Cuba if the Gov't decided to pursue it?

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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 10:47 AM
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Just to address the comment about getting travelers checks in Nassau, you won't be able to do this even if your bank has a branch in Nassau. They had STRICT banking laws. I beleive you'll have the same problem in the Caymans.
Don't know about Canada or Mexico, but I would find out for sure before I left home.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 04:58 AM
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Jed, Another option---if you prepaid your accomodations and island transportation by booking through a travel site you wouldn't have to carry that much cash with you. There are several agencies you could use, however they would require a US goverment sanctioned trip for booking for an American citizen. And of course, as a US citizen, I am recommending a legally sanctioned trip. Most lodgings would include breakfast and maybe dinner, although I'd recommend trying the local restaurants for dinner. We went on a two week trip last May. Most of our trip (US University course) was booked and prepaid, so we didn't have to have that much cash with us. I'd be happy to answer any questions about some of the towns and places we went to while we were there. Kathy
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