Travels to Cuba

Travels to Cuba

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road … Unless you fail to make the turn.”

cuba_map

Go to Cuba? Legally? How? I was fascinated when I discovered that this trip was organized by the the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and blessed by the US government. I had so many questions. As I was preparing for the trip, I was asked by many to please post a blog on my travels to Cuba. Since my mind was filled with questions, this first post will be in FAQ format. Here is the first of the series:

1. Is travel to Cuba legal? Yes, we are traveling on a People-to-People itinerary operated under a specific license granted by by the United States Dept. Of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). We have a letter of authorization stating we have permission to travel under a specific license. We keep this letter as part of our travel documents. We are not traveling as tourists, but as part of a cultural exchange.

2. What is People-to-People travel? It is an initiative allowing US citizens to Cuba on a limited basis to participate in cultural experiences. The initiative includes direct contact with Cuban people to learn more about them and their culture.

3. What is OFAC? The office of Foreign Assets Control administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy. information on OFAC and currents sanctions on Cuba can be found on the US treasury website at:

http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/Cuba.aspx

4. Currency in Cuba? Currency for international travelers in Cuba is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The exchange rate can change at any time, and is available at www.xe.com. We have been advised to bring plenty of cash as we will not be able to access cash or our funds while in Cuba. Cuba operates on a dual-economy – so Cubans use Cuban pesos (CUP) and international travelers use CUC’s. CUC’s come in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.

5. Credit or debit cards in Cuba? Cards issued by US banks cannot be used in Cuba.

6. What about Cuban Cuisine? The food in Cuba is a fusion of African, Caribbean and Spanish flavors and spices. In Havana, the Chinese influence is supposed to be evident. We will see…

We read about opportunities to escape to detox from technology. Are  you one of those people who go to sleep with the smart phone on the nightstand, check it in the middle of the night, and first thing in the morning? Well, think about 7 days without access to your email or mobile phone? Could you handle it in a positive way without snarling at those you are with? In Cuba, we will have that experience! Stay tuned for part two…

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Here it is – our unmarked “SkyKing plane to Cuba… things are already getting interesting!

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