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Everything posted by chris12381

  1. One of the things I dislike most about renting a place in Cuba is the difficulty in finding a place that DOESN'T have a family living with you, asking you every few minutes if you are OK, if you need anything, pressuring you eat breakfast every morning (so they can earn an extra 3-5 CUC per person a day) and just generally being "there". I find their presence invasive according to this article, so do the Cubans! As many know, the difficulty does stem from the fact that most of the places are going to be spaces that are carved out of a family's home. Sure, they may seem private, but there will always be some way for them to enter via a door, very often the kitchen will only be in the family's side of the home and you'll have to ask them for all sorts of little things that in any other place in the world, soap, shampoo, the washer/dryer wouldn't be locked down and guarded like they are in Cuba. So, through layout of the home and through scarcity, you need to intrude. The other think you'll quickly notice on AirBnB listings is "private maid service 24 hours", "concierge service", "breakfast available" "washer and dryer" and other ammenities that are very impressive. You quickly realize that the private maid or concierge is a husband and wife, the washer and dryer is not self service. You need to interrupt people's daily lives to use these "services" that in most ptoerh locations, those are people's sole jobs/responsibilites. Those are used to attract people to their listings (after all, they are competing with other listings) but they have quickly learned, they are a burden. But...If you list it, it's reasonable for a renter to expect it. On the flip side, I've stayed in an AirBnB which consisted of three separate room/bathrooms and a common area on top of a roof in Old Havana for 10 days. It was beautiful. I got to experience other tourists from many other countries coming and going over those days, and watched the owner and staff interact with those tourists. Most of it was harmless, but some of it was pretty over the top and I felt absolutely awful for them. It got so bad one night that of the asked me to help translate for her and out of pity, I just started running interference for the 2 hours answering a couple's questions. It turns out the couple decided to come to Cuba on a whim, rented the room and bought plane tickets less than a 2 weeks prior and couldn't understand "why these Cubans wouldn't accept their credit or debit cards seeing as they're good everywhere else in the world". They had NO CASH. That satement was followed by questions like "Who the hell is this Che guy?" and "Since the embargo ended, why in the world don't they just get new cars?" It was a long discussion which required a tremendous amount of patience on my part. So, I can imagine how exahusting it must be for anyone hosting tourists to deal with that kind of stuff. But the end of the day, an economy dependent on tourism depends upon tourists: the good ones and the bad ones.
  2. You know there was a time when boxes of my Famosos just sat and sat on shelves, quietly aging and could be reliably picked up with 2 to 3 years already on them. While it's sad those days are pretty much gone, I suppose their "newfound" popularity helps ensure they might stick around a while.
  3. I got back last Saturday. Dollars are most certainly in demand. It's practically frantic. Everyone knows the CUC demise, something that's been talked about for years is approaching...for real. Any foreign currency is also up for exchange on "the street" (CAD, EUR, GBP, etc). Just expect to get the same rate as you'd get in a CADECA or a bit better (no 3% fee). Negotiations are dependent on how much you're changing, size of bills (bigger is better) and the quality (newer is better). No Cuban wants to get stuck with CUCs, trade them for CUPs at some unknown or undesirable exchange rate or worst of all, have to answer questions like "Where did these 45,000 CUCs come from? Why have you not been paying taxes on your private income? I think we should make note of this..." Note when I say on "the street", I'm referring to non government sources. I worked with a person I've known and trusted for some time. I would NOT do this with someone who approached me.
  4. Knowing that the brewery staff stuck up for its customers AND it bothered their neighbor, I'd frequent that establishment often. I'll never understand why people make the mistake of letting someone like me...know that something I'm doing...bothers them. ?
  5. Haven't been to Cuba since March of last year and going back in a few days. The changes related to the CUC have got me thinking hard about my trip planning. I've also heard some people online say they have paid for things like cigars and other products in official stores with USD in the past few weeks. I can see this occurring as a result of the desire for some store personnel to run their own currency exchange, but as an official policy? Has anyone had this experience?
  6. Here's my suggestion. If you are over the 24 cigar unbanded limit and are not going to be carrying them on, I'd go downstairs and hang out by the office and wait for them to check your bag. Sometimes it can be hard to hear them call your name. It has gotten a lot tougher to get custom rolled through without problems. Now, on to CBP. I am not an attorney. I just read the law and have been following this closely. Things have gotten interesting. The law says 100 cigars or $800 duty free. Above that, you are supposed to pay duty. Some agents have been citing a law that says something else that doesn't apply, then confiscating. Problem is, there's no legal basis for them to do that. You're allowed to import for personal use and pay duty above a certain limit. Confiscation would mean it's illegal OR you lied about the amount you declared or value. So, If anyone is faced with this situation and the customs agent and supervisor are clearly wrong, you need to calmly and politely request a detainment and request that they put the cigars in a plastic evidence bag. You can fight it in the fines and penalties office where those people understand the laws. You will presented with a confiscation form. They will ask you to sign it. Read it but DO NOT SIGN IT. Signing it will result in the destruction of the cigars and no forfeiture case will be opened. After you leave, you can contact the fines and penalties office for the city you cleared Customs in. Again, I'm not an attorney. I just have been following this closely and have heard from people who had to go this route to get reunited with their cigars. So, declare what you bring in. If you lie, you can have your stuff confiscated. I'd rather pay the $. 04 per cigar any day than risk confiscation. Be polite, be calm and know the above.
  7. I'm no expert in cellphones but I do know that an IMEI is used for GSM cellphone networks (AT&T and T-Mobile in the US and pretty much every cellular network in the world) and an MEID is used for CDMA cell networks (for Sprint and Verizon networks in the US). In the past, manufacturers used to make phones for either GSM or CDMA networks. This was super problematic for users of CDMA cell phones when they would travel outside the US, their CDMA phones could not roam. The easiest solution was for manufacturers to produce cell phones with BOTH IMEI and MEIDs so that CDMA users in the US would roam on GSM networks outside of the US. In some cases all their phones sold worldwide have both numbers, in others only the North American versions will. With that said, are "they" listening? Of course. Probably many "others" as well.
  8. Keep in mind that negative ion and ozone generators are different things. There's quite a bit out there on the differences, and ozone in particular comes with some particular benefits and hazards.
  9. Yep. The smallest crack down of only One window creates a vacuum effect and will suck the vast majority of smoke out of the cabin. Never recirc and be sure to direct the air vents away from your lit cigar as you hold it near the cracked open window. Otherwise they will blow the smoke around the inside of the cabin. Dryer sheets inside the car will remove/mask odors as well. I also have a small cigarette lighter powered ozone generator that does a very good job.
  10. I've had a green St. Marc for years. Perfect size for me and it has held up really really well.
  11. Allowing ambient temperature to drop below freezing in cargo is a almost always a bad idea so aircraft cargo holds are generally heated to a temperature above freezing, say 7c or 47 to 50f. Crew will have manifests listing the cargo and if there is cargo requiring higher temperatures (animals, flowers, etc) temperature will be adjusted. Swings below freezing or above 80 often occur during unloading/loading.
  12. Well I'll go first. Local band from home state of Rhode Island called "Hot Buttered Anal". They released one album entitled "Please Kill Me". Can't imagine why they didn't find any mainstream success... ?
  13. Absolutely necessary. I open every box in store after I buy it ton inspect for beetle / mold and unfortunately, I'm often happy I did. If I were you, I'd open them immediately. I learned the hard way.
  14. Congrats. Before you think about long term storage, best research freezing your on island purchases.
  15. That's a tough call. I can see myself grabbing either one in different situations. I love them both. But the quality of the Sir Winston has never let me down. I can't say the same about the Lusitania.
  16. Aaah. Are you planning on spending all your time at the beach? That's a good 30-45 minutes each way from Havana.

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