¡Viva Cuba Libre!
Day 6: Havana Vieja
1. We went back to the apartment during the day, so that Alex could change clothes for more pictures (since besides her dear Bobby she has nothing but too many clothes…). Haha😂😂
Day 7: Havana
1. What a day!!
We got to Plaza de Revolution and saw everything was closed. An armed guard told us that Fidel died last night. Wow, what a day! The workers there were putting up some racks for a big international event to say goodbye to Fidel on Nov 29.
2. A Cuban woman liked Bobby’s silly hat a lot and her friend asked if she could buy it from Bobby. Bobby said sorry but No, since it is his “travel exclusive” silly hat and also because according to some Cubans, he is too white for the sun🌞🌞. Haha😣😣
3. Since ice cream🍦🍦 is Alex’s soul food, we went to the Coppelia (the state run ice-cream company) again. When Bobby tried to get to his seat and squeeze between two tables, a woman at the table next to us got her hair caught on the button of the back pocket of Bobby’s pants. She was in good spirits and laughed instead of being upset. Bobby apologized several times but the whole family with her just laughed and the husband said “Don’t worry, it’s ok”. The people are so nice!!☺️☺️
4. ⚠️⚠️Scam? Definitely!! There were many random people sitting on the streets that kept yelling at us saying happy holiday or happy festival from time to time. What festival? The Cigar Festival!! According to some scammers who approached us, all cigars and rum were half off for the monthly Cigar Festival!! Is that real? Of course NOT! It is only a scam!!⛔️⛔️
These people have a well developed strategy (sort of):
Step1️⃣: There were 3 or more people working together. Guy A and guy B saw us walking along the Malecon, and guy A walked towards us and started a very long conversation with us. He pretended to be a volunteer for tourism (he even wore some sort of “official” badge) and kept asking us where were we living in Havana, on which street, what was the host name, etc. and kept promoting this “Cigar Festival” emphasizing that it was in memorial of Fidel. Since neither of us smoke, we thanked him and left.
Step2️⃣: We walked away thinking he was just a nice guy who loved to help tourists. Then guy C shouted “happy festival” at us and approached us starting asking bunch of questions too and pretending to be nobody but a friendly person. Now we were more confident that there was a festival going on!
Step3️⃣: Soon after, Guy B pretended to run into us randomly on the street and said hi to us claiming to be our neighbor and saying that he saw us moving in on the other day! Since he said the same address and host name (which he got from guy A, we assume), we believed him. Then he cut to the point and started talking about this Cigar Festival and asked if we wanted to buy anything. After we said several times that we don’t smoke nor any of our friends, he walked away immediately without even ending the conversation. We were just like…ok😕😕…but we still didn’t doubt the authenticity of this Cigar Festival thing. Bobby even joked that about how clever it would be if it was a scam. 😅😅
Step4️⃣: Is not over yet!! After we got back to the downtown area, Guy D was there waiting for us pretending to be a Spanish tourist. He first asked us to help him take pictures and then started chit chatting with us. He complained that everything was closed (because of Fidel’s death) and that the Cigar Festival was the only thing open. According to him, it was amazing!! He was bragging that he got a super good deal on a box of cigars for his father at a much cheaper price compared to Madrid! He suggested that we must go check it out right now before it closes! “Make sure check it out!!” He said as we were walking away. Now, we really were thinking to go check this festival out before missed it!😳
End of the story5️⃣: However‼️ When we went to a Tourism Info office and eagerly asked where the Cigar Festival was, the woman working there looked at us as if looking at idiots😳 and there was a weird silence for 20 seconds. Finally she asked where we heard about it, if we heard it on the street. We said yes, and she said it is a scam, and that they say it to the tourists everyday!! Eh……😱😱😨😨😰😰
5. Paid an extra “tourist mark-up” fee to get a newspaper of the day, which was all about the death of Fidel. The old man who was selling the newspaper asked for 1 CUC instead of 1 CUP (1 CUC = 24 CUP). Maybe he felt a little sorry afterwards, so he asked us if we wanted to take a picture of him because, according to him, he has long beard just like Fidel’s. Haha😂.
6. Of course another ice-cream time🍦🍦!! We went to Copellia again and paid with CUP for the first time! Soooooo much cheaper💰💰!! That’s why there was always a line waiting outside! The waitress initially tried to take 5 CUC from us. But after Alex said we wanted to pay with CUP, she looked at us surprisingly and said “Do you have CUP?” We said yes and paid with CUP, which was only 5 CUP (=8 pennies)!!! Haha, want to trick us? No way!! (Well, sometimes at least…)✌️✌️
Day 8: Pinar de rio
1. We met two descendants of Cuba’s indigenous people who still lived in the same area in a similar fashion as their ancestors. We learned that they were the only ones of their tribe left in the area, and that there were only about 40 of them left in all of Cuba. Aw, it was very sad.😢😢
2. We went to visit a tobacco plantation and cigar manufacturer. There was a woman in our group bought a bunk of cigar without even knowing which end you put in your mouth, let alone how to light it. We were like…hmmm😟😟, ok? Not a great habit to start picking up😣😔.
3. It was a day of animals!!🐾🐾 We fed cats🐈, chased piggies🐖, pet horses🐎 and cattle🐂, tried to take selfies with chickens🐓, and had a “soul talk” with doggies🐕 – a dog looked at Alex with teary eyes. Unable to resist, Alex fed him/her with some meat.
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