(Disclaimer: Before you read this post, understand that we DID have fun…mostly. But there were definitely several times when we were thinking to ourselves, “WTF?” This Cuban Survival Guide then was written in the midst of those particular moments as a means of keeping ourselves sane.)
- Don’t go! Period. Full stop. However, if you insist on going away, consider somewhere else like Mexico, Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. If you do decide to go to Cuba, please consider the following tips to assist you in being prepared enough to make the most out of it.
- Hot sauce, salt, pepper, ketchup, jam, peanut butter, etc. Shit, bring an entire well-stocked pantry and personal caterer or private chef. Accept that since the majority of their food has been imported from just anywhere else other than the United States, the food is going to be terrible, bland and almost unpalatable. Anything you can do to enhance the flavor will be hugely beneficial. I also recommend bringing your body weight in snacks. After all, you can only eat so many over-priced cans of Pringles (which, I’m pretty sure, is the national dish of Cuba).
- A blindfold. There’s little you can do to improve the actual aesthetics of the food you will be served. It’s a fact, the food you are used to is “pretty” and there is nothing “pretty” about Cuban food on the resort. You can season it all you want if you abide by the previously offered tip but, still, that will do little to mask its general appearance. Understand that 80% of the food you will be offered will look like dog shit on a plate.
- Extra towels. For all the promises they will make of being able to switch your manky bath and pool towels for clean ones daily, never mind the importance of not losing your precious towel, there is a 90% chance that will be none. By the end of the fourth day, my pool towel could stand up on its’ own and if the wind blew in a certain direction, people started to pass out.
- A bat, club or other convenient hand held weapon. Inevitably, you will be forced to defend your position in line at the breakfast buffet from Asians or at the bar from drunken Europeans during happy hour, or have the need to remove oblivious tourists from impeding your 5ft. personal space with their self-sticks. A large Wegmen’s sandwich (see tip #2) could have the multiple functionality here of serving as both your lunch, and the means by which you beat off intruders.
- A large, spill proof mug. Contain all your alcoholic beverages in large volume and therefore limit your need to go to the bar every 30 seconds for a refill. The other upshot to this is that you will inevitably get drunker quicker and as a result, manage to successfully forget about all the other bullshit that’s probably going on around you.
- A small length of rope or twine. This can be used as an impromptu clothesline on your balcony in order to dry out your bathing suit and freshen up your four-day old towels, or hang yourself if it all gets to be too much.
- Ear plugs. These can be useful to block out the maids chit-chatting outside your bathroom stall in the morning as you try to evacuate the remnants of your a la cart dinner from the previous night. You may also feel the need to block out the incessant chatter of the idiot on the microphone at the pool throughout the majority of the afternoon. Tip #6 is also very applicable here too.
- A catheter to avoid having to traipse through the “River of Piss” in the poolside bathroom when it inevitably gets blocked up and overflows onto the pool deck.
- A ‘Drunk to English’ dictionary to help decipher what exactly the 50-something-year-old tourist beside you insists on trying to tell you. Tip #5 will also come in handy here as well.
- A roll of toilet paper. Cuban toilet paper has the texture of grit sandpaper and given you the stupid amount of time you likely spend in the bathroom anyway, your asshole is likely to be turned in raw hamburger in short time. Also note: it is not necessarily customary for toilet paper to be automatically provided in public bathrooms outside the resort.
- Cuban bills in small denominations. Sit in the same location every day and tip your server each and every day. If you’re going to be eating flavorless dog shit, you may as well have it served with a smile.
- Handi-wipes. All the normal, practical uses aside, you can use them to wipe down your table in the resort restaurants before sitting down, since it is likely that the only other time they have ever likely been cleaned is when the waitress might have flicked a grain of rice or kernel of corn off it with her finger after the previous diners left.
- Febreeze. Spray it in the room, spray it on your four-day old towels, spray it in your eyes each time you spy a fat chick by the pool in a micro-bikini. Shit, I’d recommend spraying it in your mouth just to get the sensation of something resembling “flavorful” from time to time.
- Something to mark your deck chair by the pool or lounger on the beach. The bat or club (tip #5) is only useful providing you are there wielding it. Bu should you temporarily retire for lunch or dinner with your dufflebag of condiments, you will need to mark your turf. You can use a brightly-colored handkerchief, scarf, towel, or maybe even a landmine.
God help you.