Why Odd Things
As an American, Cuba is a ‘taboo’ place or at least it was. Now that we can go, with certain restrictions, its like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. You can look, but don’t eat.
Being that I have never been to the Garden of Eden, I didn’t know quite what to pack. I mean, I do live on the island next door, but here I can find everything that I can find in the States if I want to drive. Here in the Dominican Republic, the range of income goes from poor people living in a one room, banana leaf covered house to sprawling estates with swimming pools and security.
So, under advisement from several folks that have had the opportunity to travel to Cuba freely, I packed some items that I would not normally pack for my adventures.
My neighbor Angie recommended the first odd thing to pack…toilet paper. She’s Canadian and is bourgie and adventurous like me, so I am taking packing T.P. very seriously. She went to Cuba (freely) a couple years back and could actually stay in a hotel. She knows me pretty well enough to know that I am going to be quite miserable if there is a shortage on toilet paper.
My photography instructor says he always takes a pillow, my second odd thing to pack. Now, he normally stays at casa particulares, where we will be staying during this trip. Apparently the hospitality is great, but the pillows leave something to be desired. I’m always leery of whether I am laying in someone else’s drool, so I did not hesitate to throw an old pillow in my suitcase.
I typically have US dollars or Dominican Pesos which are usable where I am. So I packed euros before traveling, which is an odd thing for me. After I did a little a bit of research online, I found there is a 10% surcharge on exchanging US dollars. A friend who in Cuba at the time, said only USD or euros can be exchanged at the airport. This means that if you manage to find somewhere that exchanges pesos or another currency, it is probably going to be at a ‘sucky’ rate. So, in my efforts to outsmart the powers that be, I exchanged USD for euros while in the Dominican Republic. The rate was pretty good. Since the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is one-to-one for a US dollar, I expect to get the same amount in CUC’s when I exchange my euros. I don’t anticipate losing the extra 10%. We’ll see how that goes.