January 4th, 2015
Well today was another frustrating day. We want to get out of Havana for a day or two and see the country side. We aren’t really keen on going on a tour as it’s all very structured and we kind of wanted to have the ability to come and go as we pleased.
The place we wanted to go was Vinales which is 2 hours away from Havana. To get there we could take a Cuban bus, but once you’re in Vinales you would need a car. So we decided to go rent a car. There are two car companies in Cuba, Cubacar and the other I can’t remember, which really doesn’t matter because although there are two companies, there’s really only one. That’s because they are both owned by the government.
The first place we went to was Cubancar. Get this….It turns out if you’re renting a car from Havana, you need to pre book with a reservation months in advance. And you can only make the reservation on line, so before you leave to come to Cuba (as Internet is unreliable here, cost a fortune and good luck printing a confirmation email). The sales rep we talked to said the company has a limited number of cars in the fleet and they keep getting totalled and the government won’t replace the cars when they get into accidents, so the supply is limited and keeps dwindling. Even if we ended up getting a car, we would pay $80/day and gas on top of that. Gas in Cuba was pretty expensive, I don’t remember the exact quote at the time, but it was high, despite the plummeting price of oil we witnessed this December.
We seemed to have exhausted all options so we ended up booking a one day tour tomorrow with the hotel. It seems to be really hard to get out of the tourist world here. Everywhere we turn we are either being ripped off or find it near impossible to get to places on our own. The countries infrastructure just doesn’t seem to be set up for easy transportation of people between cities. It sounds frustrating but, in retrospect, I came here cause I wanted to see the “real” Cuba, and running into the road blocks is just a testament to how the country really works.
Drive-Thru’s… Cuban Style!