Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/07/09

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Subject: [Leica] Cuba, Cuba, Cuba
From: "BIRKEY, DUANE" <>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 9:52:42 -0500

I went to Cuba a couple of years ago and loved it.  I'd love to go back.  

But, I wouldn't recommend wandering off by yourself without a reliable 
someone,  I heard a number of stories of foreigners who received a very 
nasty blow over the head and were relieved of their personal items.  My 
hosts were very cautious as to where they allowed me to wander because of 
that.  The uncomfortable part is that near many more popular tourist 
spots, people come up to you trying to sell  you rum, cigars, themselves 
or their daughters.    It's more uncomfortable, if you like to left alone 
while you are taking pictures and even more so after you're told about 
the guy who was killed just up the street there.....

The average monthly wage when I was there was US $3 it had gone up to $10 
shortly afterwards.  I'm not sure what it is now.  But when you consider 
that a M-6 and a 50 Summicron alone was equivalent to 23 years of's not surprising that someone might be tempted to hit you 
over the head.

I spent a week near Camaguay and another week down near Santiago de Cuba. 
 So I can help with sights in those areas. 

The tourism experience is not that much different than going to Can Cun 
or some resort.  But the government tries to keep tourists in the resort 
and tourist areas and keeps the Cubans out.  At most hotels you will have 
all the comforts of home including CNN.  But even though you can eat all 
the meat you want at the hotel buffet,  Cubans as a whole rarely ever 
have any.  In fact the penalty for butchering a cow is stiffer than for 
killing another person.  

It is a beautiful country with many photographic possibilities.  I found 
the people to be very warm and friendly, but as a whole, they tend to 
swallow a lot of the consonants, so the Spanish is a little harder to 
pick up.
Duane Birkey

HCJB World Radio
Quito Ecuador