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CUBA

Cuba Today: People and Society

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Road Scholar
Program #20437RJ
9 Days | 8 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
See all of our Most Popular programs.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
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EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Kira Dirlik Jul 11, 2014 at 02:05 PM

I love to read novels written by authors of a country I am visiting, or about the country by any author. I enjoyed "Dreaming in Cuban" which is on the recommended reading list RS sent to us. But I'm also enjoying Christopher Hunt's "Waiting for Fidel", Carlos Eire's "Waiting for Snow in Havana" and Rachel Kushner's "Telex From Cuba". I am picking the latter for my local bookclub.
Anne Fernald Jul 11, 2014 at 03:41 PM

Kira -- I do the same thing. We went to Cuba in Feb. My favorite books (mysteries) were by Leonardo Padura -- Havana Gold, Havana Blue etc. They cover the gritty side of Havana, but also have info about how real people manage to live in Cuba. The characters rely on the black market for food. One character was paralyzed in the Angolan war. The books were a great read..
David Fritz Jul 11, 2014 at 03:54 PM

Kira, if you'd like some non-fiction as well, I'd recomment "Three Nights in Havana". It's the story of the personal friendship between Fidel castr and
David Fritz Jul 11, 2014 at 03:56 PM

Sorry, hit the wrong key ... Fidel Castro and Canada's former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In order to set the context, though it covers a ton of background material on Cuba's relations with Canada, the US and Russia. Another good one is "Havana Nocture", the history of the Mob in Cuba from 1945 to 1959.


Kira Dirlik Jul 11, 2014 at 02:02 PM

Time flies. Is anyone else here registered for the Nov. 4 - 12 trip? I have another $ question. I read something about there being two rates of exchange or types of money. How does this work? (Last year I went to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and never did need to learn the exchange rate, since everyone took US dollars.
One suggestion... take small bills, 5's and 10's.
Jan Wolfe Jul 11, 2014 at 03:16 PM

Hi Kira. This is a question better answered very close to your departure date because there is talk of changing the currency system, and when something changes in Cuba, it can be overnight (or 100's of years). When I was there in April, tourists used CUCs and locals used the local peso, but all the exchanges were for CUCs (about 87 cents to the dollar at the time). Everybody accepted CUCs. If the CUC is still around when you go, keep small denominations as a 1 CUC tip is great. (The average Cuban makes about 25 CUCs a month.) 1-3 CUCs a day to your maid will assure you always have toilet paper in your room
David Fritz Jul 11, 2014 at 04:03 PM

The best thinking, as of 6 months ago, is that if the currency changes, it will be to use only the CUC. However, at the moment there are two currencies, the CUC (commonly called the "kook") and the peso or Moneda Nacional. The exchange rate between the two is roughly 25 to 1. It used to be that CUCs were for tourists and pesos were for Cubans but these days anyone can use whatever they want. However, for a group like this, you'll be just fine with CUCs only.. As far as US dollars go, there is a 10% surcharge, after the exchange rate. This is because of the difficulty Cuba has with getting full credit for their US money. For credit cards, there is also a service charge of 10% and cards processed in the US may not be honoured, even ones issued by non-US banks..


Linda Bevan Jun 25, 2014 at 07:16 PM

use dollars, it does not pay to exchange twice.


Bonnie House Jun 25, 2014 at 06:26 PM

I read that it is preferable to exchange Euros or Cdn dollars as opposed to US currency because they take 10% from US money. Should I get Euros or Cdn money before I leave. Anyone know about this??
Dena Abramowitz Jun 25, 2014 at 06:37 PM

It's not worth it because you're paying for two exchanges, so it's probably a wash. Just bring dollars and have a good time. You won't need to spend much money in Cuba, so this really isn't worth worrying about.


Pat Molloy Jun 20, 2014 at 03:30 PM

How much cash do you bring? You can't use American credit cards, right?
Claude Flynn Jun 20, 2014 at 04:14 PM

YES, YOU CAN; NO PROBLEMS.
Douglas Cummings Jun 20, 2014 at 09:30 PM

No, no American credit cards, or travelers checks, etc. Only CUC. I exchanged $200 and had money left over. If you think you want to buy artworks or expensive souveniers you may want more. Money exchange is available at the hotels, and at the airport when you leave to exchange CUC back to $. Very easy.
Sue Hobbs Jun 24, 2014 at 08:08 PM

Hmmm. I have heard several people say they took $1000 and felt like it wasn't enough. Any more feedback from previous travelers?
Pat Molloy Jun 24, 2014 at 09:13 PM

Glad to hear it is easy to exchange money but hard to figure how much to bring especially since American banks are not recognized. Thanks for responses!
Jan Wolfe Jul 01, 2014 at 11:13 AM

My husband and I took $500 and had lots left over. But having said that, if we had taken $1000, we might have brought back more artwork. It was a good way to keep our spending in check. Mostly we spent our money on rum nightcaps, CDs from the various musical groups, and we tipped well even though RS covers tips.


Sue Hobbs Jun 08, 2014 at 01:29 PM

Has anyone gone to the Tropicana on their own?
Susan Garry Jun 24, 2014 at 02:55 PM

I went on the recommendation of a friend who had taken this trip before me and it was well worth it. It was easy to get a cab to and from the hotel. The show was wonderful. There were four of us who went and we also opted for the dinner before which wasn't that great but it was the Tropicana. You should definitely try to get there. It is a bit pricey - 75 CUC but when we got there our seats were upgraded which is also what happened to my friend who went. Highly recommended especially if you like history.
Sue Hobbs Jun 24, 2014 at 08:09 PM

Thanks Susan. Did you arrange tickets ahead of time or through the hotel or tour group?
Susan Garry Jun 24, 2014 at 08:36 PM

We arranged it through the hotel. There's a desk in the lobby next to the jewelry store that arranges the tickets.


Marjorie Arons-Barron Jun 08, 2014 at 08:13 AM

Roughly how many people go on a trip of this sort?
Susan Kaufman Jun 08, 2014 at 08:56 AM

OMG Marjorie - the former Susan Schur here!! There were 24 on my trip in January.
Douglas Cummings Jun 08, 2014 at 08:12 PM

22 on our trip in March/April. Very manageable. Brings a lot of variety to the group.


Joan Engelhaupt Jun 03, 2014 at 08:39 PM

It's been more than a year since I went with Road Scholar to Cuba, but this issue was hotly debated in this space at that time. Basically, R.S. does cover the tips and asks that we not pressure each other to give a parting tip (i.e., take up a group collection). Therefore, people who wanted to give something extra did so on their own initiative and probably in nowhere near the amounts other tour companies seem to encourage.


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