A Surprise Addition to Our Itinerary!
The problem with chatting with other travellers is you often discover new places to visit. I had such a discussion yesterday with someone who has been traveling around the world for the last 6 years and has been funding his travels by playing competitive backgammon online. Talk about if there’s a will, there’s a way! Anywho, he and his Chilean girlfriend, who he met while visiting Venezuela, and I were chatting, and he was stunned about our current . . . journey. (I hate calling it a trip, because trips have destinations, schedules, plans, etc., and this really is more our lifestyle now.) He asked where we were headed next. Upon discovering that our next location was near Cancun, he shot out of his chair, smile spread from ear to ear, and loudly shouted “YOU NEED TO GO TO CUBA! YOU HAVE TO! NOW, BEFORE IT CHANGES!”
Cuba? Yes, I’ve always been interested in Cuba and have known several people from there but figured it was pretty much not going to happen so had never considered it for our current journey. When the US made the recent announcement of some. . . thawing in the relationship and some different types of visas now available, I did momentarily ponder how I could create something that would qualify us for a visa to visit there, but then departure date was nearing and life became more complex. However, my professional gambling friend got me wondering.
I came home, fought with the Internet, and finally was able to gather enough information and prices to make a decision, and . . . WE ARE GOING TO CUBA! I had no idea there were flights from Cancun (and fairly cheap at that, costing about $500 USD total for both of us to fly there roundtrip) until yesterday. Since we’ll be near there anyway, why the hell not? A place very few Americans have gone to? How can I resist? It’s also been interesting that I’ve had difficulty thinking through where we’ll go after Playa del Carmen before we hit Belize, trying to be near here when some very good friends are coming to visit near Tulum, and so on. Course, now everything is just flowing. Love when that happens.
The trip planning has introduced some nice logistics, especially since the only way you can use a credit or debit card issued by a US bank is with a license from the State Department. This includes trying to withdraw funds from an ATM in Cuba as well as even buying the ticket itself. There is also a 10% tax on exchanging USD to the Cuban convertible peso. So I’m taking my friend’s advice and taking Mexican pesos with us. It’s a little daunting having to plan on all the money you will need because once you’re there that’s it, but it just adds a new adventure into the mix. I’m doing some checking around to see if there are some other ways of getting around some of that (like getting a Visa gift card in Mexico that may not have the US-Cuba restrictions on it), but either way it sounds like a major adventure, and, well, you know me: Can’t resist the idea of a good adventure!
It has also opened up some great unschooling/worldschooling possibilities for Tigger. Just this morning alone we’ve had some nice discussions about the differences between a democratic and Communist country, foreign policy, the effects of embargoes, US history, budgeting, etc. And what a freakin life to have when you can just one day decide, Hey! we’re going to Cuba next week!