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: <rating country='cu' />
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<map lat='21.23' lng='-79.55' zoom='5' view='0' country='Cuba'/>

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, theoretically, cars are required to pick up hitchhikers. In reality, most cars will not stop (even for Cubans) unless you demonstrate your willingness to pay for the ride by waiving some bills - about 20 pesos (~1 dollar) for every 100km, so you will see many people standing at the highways waiving money. The best locations to be picked up are the "puntos amarillos", which are well-established hitch-hiking spots outside the cities named after yellow officers ("amarillos") who stop cars and oblige the driver to give a lift to the people waiting on the street. Do not rely on the officers, as they often are not present, or, if they are physically present, are not helpful at all. Nevertheless you always find many Cubans at the punto amarillos who can help you. The easiest way to find the punto amarillo is to ask Cubans, even in big cities everyone should know where the puntos are. In La Habana, you can take the P7 going from Parque central and after about 30-40 mins you will be close to the punto amarillo on the carretera nacional heading east.

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

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.

Wild Camping

When travelling through Cuba in late 2015, Bernhard thinks that wild camping is no problem at all. Many times all over the internet you will find that camping in the fields can't be done but don't mind those sites. Just like in any other country jump into the bushes when no one is looking. There are a few things to consider though: - It can be quiet tricky since there are often plenty of people walking and cycling along the road, so watch out who is seeing you. - Often the best hiding spots are fenced off with barb wire. If you climb over a fence make sure it is no military area! There are usually handwritten signs if it is. - Watch out for this spiky plant which seems to grow all over Cuba. The spikes are massive and you will badly hurt yourself when not being careful. (For example putting a tent over a small branch which then penetrates tent floor, mattress, sleeping bag, skin. Ouch!) - Do bring anti-mosquito spray. You're welcome. - There are a lot of cowboys on horses out there browsing through the fields. So make sure your spot is cowboy-free (for example that there are no horse droppings around) - Also people with machetes seem to wander around and cutting wood.

If you bring common sense you should be fine.

Illegal casa particulares

Illegal casa particulares are all over Cuba. But what is it, and how to find it? Basically there are two types of casas. The one with the blue anchor logo and the orange one. The blue one holds a license to have foreigners which pay in CUC. Their houses are typically much nicer and well maintained. Often there is a sign outside with the name of the casa and a "Rent room" writing in English. You can book them in advance. And then there is the other casa which can (officially) only have Cubans, which will pay in CUP. Their sign will only say "Hospedaje". Sometimes it includes "24h" and you pay by length in hours of your stay. (You can imagine what this is good for) Usually between 5 to 10 CUC. These rooms sometimes aren't as nice as the official casas though but still alright. Often there is a restaurant attached where you can get food for CUP and there is even lobster on the menu (which is generally only allowed for foreigners and available only in hotels). They may refuse you but often they don't care. Especially if there is no official casa in town. I doubt you can book them in advance since they have no contact details online.

Another type is the home of someone. Ask around in the streets (Bernhard did that usually at those little corner shops where they sell juice and pizza) if they know a casa particular or any other hospedaje available for the night. Sometimes you need to ask a few people but sooner or later there will someone approaching you and tell you to follow them. They bring you to some house where either someone else is living or the person himself. Prices are at around 20 CUC including food. It is save to do since they bring themselves in danger when this comes out since they have no license to offer a room. So if they steal stuff you would go to the police and this would mean the home owner is in bad trouble and could loose his house. Or at least this is what i kept telling myself when following people into small side streets. Do keep your voice down though and don't talk to anybody where you are staying. Speaking Spanish is almost a must and maybe get yourself a Cuban haircut.


Jineteros

Those are the guys in parks called who can sell you anything, organize you anything and do whatever they need to do to rip you off. However, those are also the guys who can make the most impossible happen. They know the city and where to get whatsoever. This might be useful for the one or the other. Bernhard used one to organise him a bicycle in order to cycle around the country. This was surprisingly difficult to find and the knowledge of a jinatero was well appreciated.

Be aware though that the Jineteros main goal isn't your wellbeing but rather that you pay him.


External links

Hitchhikers Katja and Augustas on the road in Cuba

nomad:Cuba