luna chen

[Sun 19 Nov, 15:38]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
Tips for 6 mo stay in Havana, Cuba? - (8 replies)

I'm going to be living in Havana for 6 months working on a project there. I plan to live pretty simply, but I'm wondering if anyone has any tips about things I should bring with me for this trip. (besides cash and a transcard.) What would I regret not taking? What would you suggest as small gifts for Cubans there? Also, I've found a place for $300/mo but would prefer something less expensive. Finally, any suggestions for good Spanish courses/tutors for December? Thanks much.


[Sun 19 Nov, 21:26]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
1. Re: Tips for 6 mo stay in Havana, Cuba?

This is like desert island discs.
I would take a bicycle, a good lock, with new tyres, and barter them at the end.
I would take a cheap reliable laptop with modem, and find some way of piggybacking
onto someones connection. This way you would be able to compose in your own time
and send messages. Receiving to this machine might pose a problem so you could use
a webmail account to retrieve them from Capitolio etc, but would not have to
compose there. Someone will love you for the computer.
Personally I would take nori, wasabi, miso, mirin or whichever 'exotic'
foods you enjoy and know how to prepare. Enjoy cognac, whiskey with a cigar?
I would take cakes and cakes of soap, clothes you and others are bored with and small toys for children.
I would take a cordless phone and a double jack. That way you can rent use on someones phone
line if you dont have one, without having to knock on their door and stand there when its for you.
Even useful if you have a phone, someone will love you for leaving it.
I needed Ados F2 for my shoes and plasters for blisters even if you take the bicycle.
A snorkle and mask is good, flippers if you have room.


[Mon 20 Nov, 08:19]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
2. Re: Tips for 6 mo stay in Havana, Cuba?

post #1 is pretty detail and I'd like to emphasize some point not covered:

I'm not sure how you can go under $300 unless you secure a student visa, or establish the neccessary paper trail to say you're living in a relative's home for the duration($40 cut for immigration) or Married (ahem) someone you can trust for the duration to sham for legal housing (again, immigration red tape)

I assume you been there before? VCR are highly sought after so perhaps you can barter it as part of payment to reduce cost(make sure it's 4 head to get most milage), Same goes with high quality mountain, though I don't know if you can find those who'll notice the different betw hi end($1000+) to medium end($400+) but here in NYC I can get quality used VCR for $70 and used bike for same.(I have my own tools and can weild a mean wrench) Just be careful of import tax custom may hit you with. Cordless phone is great idea but computer may not be allow into the country so don't count on it.

Soap, shoe and clothing is great gifts but it get heavy fast so make sure you tell airline you're bring in sport equiptment to utilize an extra 15kg cargo weight. I brought 2 sets of scuba gears last time and left it at a trustworthy person's house. Ask nicely after other already check in so it won't be too conspicuous if they waive it entirely.

E-mail me if you have more question,

Where're you planning to stay? How you find that place?, I'll be in Cuba in a month and may extend my trip. Want to tell me your itinery?


[Fri 27 Jul, 16:26]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
3. test


[Fri 27 Jul, 16:33]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
4. test

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el palestino

[Fri 5 Oct, 15:26]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
5. 6 month stay in Havana

Forget soap it weighs a ton and you can buy it in any dollar shop in Cuba. I know the guide books say take it but its rubbish. Take aspirins, painkillers -paracetemol, tylenol etc. Multivitamins for the kids, vitamin E for the women, they suffer lot with breast lumps and vitamin E breaks them down. Bras and knickers! they are light and really hard to get hold of there, Cuban women give them to each other as gifts all the time- thongs for the young women, briefs for the rest. Singer sewing machine needles are like gold dust- the heavy duty ones for sewing leather- loys of Cubans make shoes at home. Medicines and dollars!!


[Sat 12 Jan, 12:20]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
6. 6 months

I would only add a couple of good cotton sheets and delete all that soap. $300? - you can do better if you negotiate based on a long term stay and / or if you stay in an illegal casa.


[Tue 21 May, 11:12]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
7. for the record

good posts here, I'll add my two bits worth:

You CAN find an apt for $200/mo in Vedado and other places ($200 is a good rate, though I did even hear of lower). It's all about who you know, so just ask around and around until you find something. (It'll be illegal, though, so don't ask around too much.)

These days you CAN buy most things you need (with some exceptions) in Havana. *Most* "things", however, are usually super-cheap Chinese made imitation products (kitchen ware, for example). The question is, is that good enough, or do you want your to bring in your own US/EU made luxury item? Thus, you can buy a really really cheap, shitty, over-priced little stereo for $100, or bring your own that you got for $50.

As for things to bring: electronics in general are in short supply and hi demand, power adapters specifically.

COTTON clothes, Blankets and long-sleeve shirts/pants are a must for winter. (OK, it only got down to 6C in Havana, but it's COLD for a country with no heat!). I found no blankets in Havana for under $40, and ended up having some old lady sew together 6 frazadas (moping rags!) so I had something before a friend brought a proper blanket over from Mexico.

Ditto as well for SPICES and exotic food. A jar of curry goes a LONG way!

Some people told me to bring POTS AND PANS, as the only things available there are super-cheap (and questionable) aluminium ones. Kinda bulky, but I hear a cast-iron skillet brings big bucks in Havana. I did my cooking on a locally-bought pan, and it was total CRAP! I would say the same for most kitchen stuff.

An IRON, too, even if you've never ironed before (like me), you'll need one in Cuba.

I know I'll think of some other things here as soon as I post this... oh well! perhaps I'll re-do that FAQ and put this there...


[Sat 25 May, 18:18]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
8. oh yeah, I forgot...

TAPE- lots and any kind of tape, masking, scotch, electrician's, packaging. I don't think I saw any tape when I was there.
on that note, CANDLES, especially late-summer (hurricane season) when all the candles disappear. Get the super cheap ones.
and STRING, i didn't see any sort of string or twine there either.
VITAMINS, especially kid's...
OH YEAH, even if you don't have a VCR, I asked some friends, and they said the ONE THING they could really use was a new 4 head VCR -thing- (replacement for the old 4-head VCR -reel-is that what it's called? you can't even buy them in the states, but they're the most breakable part of the VCR and worth lots, or so i was told..

that's all for now...