When I booked my flight on the 1st of October to Cuba, I booked it with my dear Norwegian friend and fellow Dragon spirit animal Helene. We found the hippest coffee cafe called Caffe Frascati in downtown San Jose and sipped our red wine while listening to a local Irish band and sketching out our itinerary. We’d be the first on our salsa team to book the flights–were we ready to commit to this?? We decided even if no one else ended up booking their flights, we’d have a great time in Cuba. We clicked “Purchase”.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t difficult to get a Travel Visa to Cuba. I called American Airlines and asked what I had to do. I could buy the Visa in the airport or order online within 30 days before departure for $85. To avoid any extra uncertainty, I ordered mine online two weeks prior to leaving on December 26th and it arrived in three days.
Since technically tourism from the United States is not allowed in Cuba, we had to select a reason to visit Cuba. With 12 choices to choose from:
Family visits, Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations, Journalistic activity, Professional research and professional meetings, Educational activities, Religious activities, Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions, Support for the Cuban people, Humanitarian projects, Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes, Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials.
We selected Educational activities since our team, Spartan Mambo, planned on taking salsa classes every day to learn Cuban salsa also called Casino. Honestly, anyone could check the box “Support for the Cuban people”–how could one not exchange people to people interactions! That’s what traveling is.
Nonetheless, the American Airlines representative said it is on the honor system and that no receipts or proof would be necessary. No stress then. And there are no required shots travelers must get before visiting the mysterious island. Cuban currency can not be exchanged at banks in the United States, it had to be done in Cuba at the airport or bank so we would do that when we got there. Helene and I were set for Cuba.
Nearly two weeks from our departure, plans changed when Helene could no longer make the trip to Cuba.
Continue reading my post “Cuba: All Before Departure” for the rest of the story.