6 months in Cuba

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6 months in Cuba

Postby rob280783 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:14 am

Hi,

I´m currently living in Madrid and taking lessons from a Cuban guy. I´m thinking of going and studying percussion full time for six months in Cuba next year and my teacher says he could hook me up with a teacher and a room there for cheap (like $500 for the six months).

I´m wondering if anyone has any experience of living in Cuba for a long period and whether that cost is realistic or not?

I´ve heard that for "tourists" it can be expensive to study there but I was hoping maybe with a couple of contacts (through my teaacher) I could get by on the cheap.

Thanks,
Ron
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby pavloconga » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:34 am

Hi Ron,
$500 for a teacher AND a room for 6 months?
It sounds very unrealistic to me.
You know the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually it is."

I stayed in Havana for 2 months and studied 5 days a week.
My budget at the time, a rough estimate per day:
Cost of a room per day negotiated for extended stay (with good security, decent double bed, bathroom, shower and air con): $15.00 (USD at the time - they now use CUC currency)
Food: $10 -$15
Lessons: $20 - $30
Transport, entertainment: $10
Extras/unexpected expenses : $5 - $10
Around $60 a day on the days you study + weekends off = $350 to $475 a week.
You also have to allow for renewing your permission to stay in Cuba by the month.
They usually only issue 30 day visas. Around $30 to renew.

Great for you if you can do it, maybe it's possible, but I think it's unrealistic.
Just my experience.
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby rob280783 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:26 pm

Thanks for that. How many hours a day were you in lessons roughly?
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby pavloconga » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:29 pm

Depends on the day, some days up to 8 hours. But a typical day was probably 4 to 6 hours.
A 2 hour morning lesson with a musician from the Conjunto Folklorico at his casa in Habana Vieja. Then home for lunch and a rest then ride my bike to Macho's place in Ataré district for usually a 3 to 4 hour open ended session (sometimes 6 hours straight). Also practice time and time for writing out rhythms.
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby rob280783 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:44 pm

Wow that sounds awesome!
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby bengon » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:45 pm

Bring more money. You'll need to pay for more lessons, for concerts, for beer, for concerts and beer for you friends, for transportation, for cds/dvds, for government expenses everywhere you turn, for the exit fee, etc..

Pavlo's numbers are good, except I would say less for food and more for lessons depending on how you want to eat and who you are taking lessons with. I think it would be tough to find a place for $15 a night, but if you are staying for long term it may be easier to negotiate.

Good luck, study hard, and bring something to record video with!
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby ABAKUA » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:27 pm

Ive only just returned from 2.5 months in Havana....

Im at work at the moment, so dont have time to do in depth reply.. Once I get home I will break down some realistic costs for you.
Bare in mind though, I speak the language extremely fluently, and could pass as a local over there (for saving in terms of taxis, club entry, eating out etc)
Also, as far as lessons went, I did not have any. They refused to give me & my bro lessons! We did spend alot of time mano a mano exchanging etc and performed with many of the top bands...
ANyway, more when I finish work....
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby ABAKUA » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:00 pm

With recent law changes, foreigners are not permitted to stay with just anyone.
Needs to either be a hotel (expensive way of going about it) or in a 'casa particular' which is registered. Cubans who rent out their house or part of it to tourists and treat you as part of the family etc. They will put you up in their place, and cook, clean etc
An overnight stay at friends house etc is fine, however Cuban citizens are not permitted to have foreigners lodging with them etc unless registered as casa particular.
They can recieve huge fines as well as run the risk of losing their house if caught.

A casa with your own private room, bathroom, air con etc, rates start at 25 to 30 CUC per night for foreigners. (window price or if they think you a high roller)
For extended stays one can always negotiate a deal, as we did. We had the second floor of an apartment in Vedado all to ourselves with meals etc for a slight additional fee, along with laundry etc...
We negotiated down from 20 a night starting price to 12 CUC per night (each) as we had our own private rooms, plus meals. And agreed to stay there for the duration of our time. We were extremely well looked after and had girls over, our friends and musicians etc
You can expect to pay around 3 CUC for breakfast, around 4 or 5 CUC for dinner. (at casas)

Nights out, 7 days a week. Twice a night.
Matinee shows (from 5pm-9pm) entry is 5 - 10 CUC for foreigners, depending who is playing. 50-100 pesos in moneda nacional for locals.
Beer the likes of Bucanero or Cristal are 1 CUC each if you pass as a local. 3 CUC for foreigners.
4 - 5 CUC for a Cuba Libre, best off getting a bottle. 7 - 10 CUC for Cuba Libre if you are white & foreign and cant speak spanish! Again, best off getting a bottle.
Late shows, from 11pm onwards, entry is 10 - 15 CUC for foreigners & locals. Drinks also go up slightly.
Expect to pay around 20 CUC for a bottle of Havana Cluba añejo 3 yrs, plus around 5 CUC extra for a few cans of coke and ice bucket.
We would average 2 - 3 bottles a night between the 3 of us who travelled, plus a few of our local friends.
Good thing is, at the end of the night, you can always take the bottle home with you if not finished, or any drink you are consuming.

Outside of clubs, in any given shop you can pick up a bottle of havana club for around 3 CUC. (3 yr añejo) the higher the grade/vintage, the more is goes up...

Average non fancy restaurant (for Cubans) pizza around 2 - 3 CUC. Plate with Chicken, rice, salad, around 4 CUC. Plenty of them around.
Tourist/fancy restaurants, expect to pay alot more.
If you are down with locals you can find food far cheaper in outlets for the Cubans, which only take moneda nacional, example a plate with pork chop, congri (rice & beans) and salad would cost around 1 CUC max.
Small pizzas, we would pick up 5 - 6 of them for the equivalent of 1 CUC.
If you are in a casa particular, you can always buy your own supplies at the market/shops and do your own cooking and save again if you dont want to get the house owner to prep your meal.

Getting around - stay central. Vedado, near Hotel Nacional is cool, safe, awesome etc. pretty much 3 - 5 CUC by taxi to anywhere. Accomodation wise, dont venture further away and inwards from the american embassy, shady region of Vedado...
Cab to Miramar would be around 10 CUC max, 15 CUC if very late at night (4am etc)
If staying in Havana Vieja or Centro Havana, you can pretty much walk to anywhere, cab it though at night if alone. Best to be safe. We were never alone though, the whole time we were with our friends from the bands or our girls. (at night) during the day its cool. Just dont be dumb and have wads of cash in your hand when trying to see what you will pay with. Seperate your cash, ie have 5 - 10 CUC tops in your wallet (carry it in your front pocket) have another back up of 5 - 10 cuc in your pockets. Along with small change for small things. that way when you gotta pay, it doesnt look like you are loaded with cash, stumbling around seperating big bills, everyone will have their eye on whats in your wallet! Carry small bills. No point having 20 CUC notes or 50 CUC notes for getting around, no one will have change and nothing is really that much, unless you are buying big touristy stuff. The most notes you will use are 1 CUC, 3 CUC, 5 CUC with 10 CUC last.
Breakdown of average big night out if paying alone, 10 - 15 CUC cover charge at clubs, 30 CUC in drinks (bottle) again alot cheaper of only drinking a few beers.. but for us, we lived on Havana Club the whole time..., 10 - 15 CUC in cabs there and back.
60-70 CUC per night if having big nights. Now if you are travelling with friends as we were, things get alot cheaper as you divide the costs between yourselves.
Of course, it can always be alot cheaper if you are not partying like a rockstar. :lol:

Bici taxi are cheap, pretty much 2 - 4 CUC whereever they take you.
Coco taxi no more than 5 CUC pretty much anywhere central.
Word of advice for foreigners, always agree to a price before you leave. Getting around locally should never cost you more than 5 CUC during the day. 3 CUC was our average.

Lessons, as stated, we did not take any formal lessons, once we met and got to play with these guys, it was game on, mano a mano, with exchange etc they were blown away by us and refused to give us lessons! Our experience was performing with them at the gigs at the major clubs & festivals which we were always special guests, open jamming and rumbas at parties etc.
If paying, you should not be paying more than 10 - 20 CUC per lesson, you need to realise that 20 - 25 CUC is the equivalent of a months wage to working Cubans.
Top level musicians with the big name bands earn around 26 CUC per gig each. (of course the leader of the band and usually the big name in the band will take 4 - 5 times that amount) Its alot of money for them in Cuba and it goes a long way for locals if they are smart about it and convert to moneda nacional.
Agree on a reasonable price upfront. Dont be fooled into paying too much. They know you got money and will try to take advantage of you.
FOr those who dont know their way about, beware of scammers. Beware paying lump sums upfront etc, not out of malice, but out of necessity their are alot of scam artists. We didnt experience it due to who we rolled with day in day out, we became known in the scene so we were well respected.

Taxi from airport to Havana cetre, no more than 20 - 25 CUC tops.

Ladies... now thats a topic I'll reserve for private message if interested. :twisted: :lol:

Departure tax in Havana, 25 CUC. Leave yourself extra $$$ for excess weight in your baggage (if needed)

Its late & Im sleepy, going to bed now, feel free to ask anything i might have left out or go further into detail about stuff. I tried to touch on most things. There's lots more, but need to ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz................


Oh, back to origianl statement of the $500 for six months including accomodation and lessons... Dude if it were that way, I would be living there by now!!!
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Re: 6 months in Cuba

Postby rob280783 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:49 pm

Thanks dude, that really helps!

Now I have to factor in the €700 flight ! :cry:

Definitely worth it though from what I´ve heard. I´ll have the chica with me the whole time though :roll:
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