Cuba

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Flag of Cuba Cuba
Information
Language: Spanish
Capital: Havana
Population: 11,394,043
Currency: Cuban Peso (CUP) but tourists use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
Hitchability: Excellent Rate!
Current rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes)

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Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean.

In Cuba there may be more hitchhikers than cars. Private cars are very rare and consequently almost everyone hitchhikes. You will see hitchhikers at nearly every crossing, bridge or highway junction. Cuban hitchhikers never use a sign.

If you look like a western tourist everybody want to work as a private taxi for you (which can be expensive). Therefore, before you enter a car, either agree on a price with the driver or tell him that you cannot pay. Your chances of getting a free ride are low especially if don't speak good Spanish. In fact, there is not much traffic in Cuba and there are also a lot of other hitchers on the road, which can make waiting times long. Furthermore hitchers will often be picked up on the back of trucks (together with many other people). The trucks go slow and the roads are sometimes in a bad state.

In Cuba people with a private car are required to pick up hitchhikers. This sounds good but actually less then 40% of the cars passing by are private cars and traffic in total is pretty low already. There are yellow police officers ("amarillos") who stop cars and oblige the driver to give a lift to the people waiting on the street. There is a small cost involved - about 20 pesos from one city to the next. As the amarillos collect the money during the daytime, the government gets the money, hence it can be easier to hitchhike at night when the driver gets the money. Nevertheless the amarillos who are supposed to stop the car and ask the driver where he/she is going complain that less and less cars actually stop.

Fabzgy took this pictures while hitchhiking in Cuba, the two guys dressed in yellow pants and shirts are the "amarillos"

Weather

Cuba has a tropical climate with a dry season from october to april and a humid season between may and september. In summer it will be between 30 °C and 37 °C at daytime but with very high humidity which really makes you sweat. During summer the sun is strong so do something to protect yourself (woman sometimes take an umbrella, on the road people often wait under bridges or in small bus stop houses). Also heavy tropical rainfalls with local flooding can occur at any time, be prepared. Also carry enough water with you.

Eat and Drink

In touristic places you will be asked very often if you want to eat in a paladar, which is a private restaurant in a private residence. These places are mostly better and cheaper then in an official restaurant. But always choose the restaurant on your own, and don't go with anyone who asks you, because you may be forced to pay for their bill.

A typical meal is rice with beans and some meat. For most Europeans it is not very tasty. Keep some salt and pepper with you.

Markets don't have a good choice of products. A good idea is to buy fresh fruits from the street.

Don't drink tap water in Cuba.

Sleep

Pitching a tent or sleeping in a sleeping bag on the beach is strictly forbidden in Cuba. But if you don't have a sleeping bag or tent (it is warm), you can still get away with it. There are a lot of mosquitos. If you choose to use a tent or sleeping bag, be very discreet as there are many police in Cuba. It is best is to pitch our tent when it is already dark and leave early in the morning.

Casa particulares are like bed and breakfast and cost 20-30 CUC per night. They have a blue anchor on the housedoor. It is usually very simple but clean.

All inclusive hotels can be a luxurious experience for hitchhikers if you really need something to eat (and drink). You can smuggle yourself in easily if you carry coloured straps with you: check out what colours the tourist wear on their arms do the same. Enter the hotel via the beach, check some room numbers (if you are asked for a room number) and eat as much as you can. Some hotels don't even have straps for the guests. If you try to do this, try to look like a Canadian package tourist and not a low-budget traveller, otherwise you might get caught.

Cities

Hitchhiking a boat out of Cuba

You can search at the Marina Hemingway (Tel: 204 5088 from La Habana) in Jamanitas, La Habana. You can get there by taking the P1 Bus to Playa and change there to a Bus to Santa Fe (420). The round trip should cost not more then 0.80 Moneda Nacional.

There are boats leaving to Florida, Mexico and other Caribbean Islands. High Season is from December to March/April but there are always some boats. Ask around at the Port office, these people know who is in the marina and who is planing to leave.

Note: The Emigration requires you to go with your captain 72 hours before departure to the Imigration office to enrol you on the list of passengers. If you can't make it 72 hours before departure a little tip might do the trick as well.

External links

Hitchhikers Katja and Augustas on the road in Cuba