posted on Aug, 4 2016 @ 02:08 PM
I recently sailed to Cuba from Key West. I requested and received a permit for journalism to go legally, it was not difficult to do. I also know of
several who just go and and come back with out doing the paper work. I do find it embarrassing a nation that we do not have open borders with Cuba for
I sailed into Marina Hemingway where first I was cleared by a doctor, then the Coast Guard and was given a slip at the Marina, there the dockmaster
and Agricultural Inspector came on board. All of the Cuba officials were friendly and I did not have to pay anything until I checked out of the
Marina Hemingway has nice facilities. Most items are reasonably priced, beer is 1.50 CUC a can, rum is cheap, ice is rare, so is toliet paper. The
official exchange rate is 0.87CUC for $1, however one can ask around and get a better exchange rate. CUCs are the tourist money, the locals use libres
and generally get a much better price than the tourist despite the exchange rate being about 25:1.
The infrastructure, roads, and public transportation is pretty good, though the power grid and plumbing is questionable in the lower income areas. The
people are friendly, though like anywhere in the world people will try to hustle you when they know you are an American. I also noticed almost
everyone had phones, and many had smart phones.
Havana is about a 45 minute drive from Marina Hemingway and I spent a day over there. There are some rough looking buildings, but overall the city is
fairly modern though much more pricey than the town outside Marina Hemingway.
My trip was cut short due to weather concerns and I wish I could have seen more. Getting home the US Customs were not exactly friendly, one guy
insisted I told him my purpose was for tourism NOT journalism, despite what my permit said and what I said. They were bullies for a few minutes but
finally cleared me. It is disheartening that I was treated better by the Cuban government officials than the US Customs.