When my cousin in Cuba asked me to be her daughter’s godmother, I was thrilled at the thought of being a godmother and of visiting Cuba again.
I had visited Cuba in March hoping to be there for my cousin Leticia’s due date. Unfortunately, the timing was off and I didn’t get a chance to see the baby which was born two weeks after I left. This time, my timing was better. The week before I flew down, President Obama announced of a new Cuba policy. It was an incredibly exciting time to be down there.
Being Cuban-born, traveling to Cuba is easier for me than for other Americans. A few months earlier, they announced that they were changing the process for Cuba American’s to travel back to Cuba. In order to visit, we had to have a valid Cuban passport. So I rushed to get my application in before the deadline and submitted the $400 payment they required. After waiting nearly 60 days I was contacted by the agency Marazul and was told that my passport was in. We waited until I was able to travel to Cuba after the holidays to schedule a date in the church for the baptism. The date was set for January18th.
Normally, it takes me a few weeks of preparation for a trip to Cuba. Since, I had a recently returned from a trip, I had only four days to shop and pack all the items I was bringing down. My house looked like it was turned upside down deciding, “What to Pack for Cuba”?
Having so much family there, and having been back recently, I had a good idea of what to bring. Many of my family members asked me to bring specific items like shower curtains, towels, baby pampers, candles, cafe bustelo coffee, flashlights, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, medicines, and baby toiletries.
Cuba is known for it’s power outages called “Los Apagones”. It’s a little spooky walking down a street that is pitch black. Sometimes, while making dinner or getting ready to sit down to eat, the lights go out. Especially odd is doing homework in the dark by candlelight. That’s why bringing candles and flashlights for the family was important. For Cubans, it’s a way of life that they are used to.
When the lights go out, the mosquitos go on a biting spree. I could count about 20+ bites on just my legs from my last trip. So I made sure to not forget to take mosquito repellent and cortizone cream.
Packing List for Cuba
Paper goods – Toilet paper (at least a whole roll for every week you’re there, or more if you’re sharing), paper towels, and napkins
First Aid Kit – Make sure there’s hand sanitizer, mosquito repellent (I recommend Off), bandages, Advil, Imodium, Alka Seltzer, Pepto‑Bismol Caplets, Visine Eye Drops, Cortizone-10, and Neosporin.
Toiletries – Toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, body wash and soap
Electronics – Small flashlights (with AAA and AA batteries), and a camera with charges plus big memory cards!
Miscellaneous – Umbrella, suntan lotion, and a good hat.
I arrived at the Miami airport at 4:30 a.m., three hours before the flight as required by the airline. I know it’s crazy! First you stand in line and show them all your documents, proof of health insurance, and passports. They passed all my documents to the counter on the other side, where they weigh all my luggage. I went over my weight by 120 pounds. Yikes!!
American citizens are only allowed to bring 44 pounds of luggage to Cuba. If you go over the weight, they charge you $2 a pound in the US, and $10 CUC a pound in Cuba. Make sure you pack all the medicines in a separate bag. In Cuba you can take out the bag, if they weigh your luggage, they won’t charge you for it.
Many people in Cuba tip with gifts at hotels and around town. A gift that is hard to get in Cuba would be soaps, bath products, aspirin, school supplies, razors (men and women) notepads, stationary, baby clothes, childrens clothing and more. Money is also very appreciated.
Most resorts have dual power supply 110v and 220v so you can use either. It’s not a bad idea to bring an electric converter like this one!
Cuban climate is fairly warm most of the time, so you’ll need summer attire (shorts, sandals, t-shirts). In the months of Nov/Dec through to March/April you may find that it gets a little chilly in the evenings, a thin/lightweight cardigan or sweater may be useful to bring for a chillier evening.
I said goodbye to everyone here in the states, and shut off my iPhone knowing that I wasn’t going to have internet access or phone service in Cuba for the next 10 days. Off I went to Cuba…..Arriving in Santa Clara.