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Her Cuba, Beautiful Cuba
Unwanted attention is rare...

Except at dance clubs (which are pretty much the same the world over - a bit of a free-for-all), unwanted male attention is rare. Although women travelers must always be on their guard, Cuba is very safe (but, as in any large city, be careful and use your instincts in Havana at night). Resorts especially have very good security, and the entire country boasts a strong (and non-threatening) police presence.


She shops Cuba...

You'll find a smattering of wooden handicrafts, mostly carved toy lizards, birds and frogs, perfect for children. You can also pick up the occasional CD being hawked by one of the many Mariachi bands you'll see playing in roadside truck stops along the highways as well as in the streets of Havana. In some places you'll be able to pick up Cuban-themed t-shirts and hats -- I'll treasure my Che Guevara hat forever as it brings out my inner rebel and looks great worn at a jaunty angle.

World-famous cigars and aged rum are great gifts to bring home for the guys, but check first to see how much you're allowed to bring out of the country. Never buy cigars from roadside vendors - they may be fakes made from banana leaves. Yuck! Stick to the hotels and official cigar stores to play it safe.


Ladies' wear, Cuba-style...

Cuban dress is a joyful expression of the island's culture. Cuban women wear tight, brightly coloured clothing, low-cut, sleeveless blouses or tube tops, short skirts, and lots of stripes and polka dots. Fuchsia, baby-blue, red, purple, and orange are the favoured colours, expressing the spirit of the place. For the tourist, walking shorts and a t-shirt are almost always appropriate, although at some restaurants more formal clothing is required. Bring a nice, light, long dress (men should bring pants and a shirt and tie for "formal" dining) for such an occasion. It's best that foreign women dress more conservatively than their Cuban counterparts, or they may invite unwanted attention.

P.S.For more information on what to wear in Cuba, scroll to the bottom of www.journeywoman.com/ccc/ccc-c.html


Make your own Mohitos...

Refreshing and light, Mohitos are the perfect taste of Cuba on a hot summer day - and the ultimate "Ladies' drink." Whip up a whole batch for a barbeque! All ingredients are "to taste."

White Havana Rum (one part)
Sparkling Mineral water (four parts)
Ice (cubed or crushed)
Bitters (just a dash will do)
Fresh mint
Sugar (large grained cane sugar is best)
Mix all liquid ingredients. Pour over ice into glass rimmed with sugar. Add mint and a neat swizzle stick. Toast your Cuban holiday!

Recommended reading...

While vacationing in Cuba may be relaxing, one understands that the average Cuban lives a completely different reality. Cuban Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana written by Isadora Tattlin is (according to New York Times Book Review) "an inspired record of her four year's in Fidel Castro's Cuba, where the past is present -- tragically and hilariously -- at all times." This is a perfect book to read before, during or after a vacation to the Island of Cuba.

P.S. A native of California, Isadora Tattlin (a pen name) is the wife of a European executive. She lives wherever his business takes them.


To read while in Cuba...

Es Cuba, Life and Love on an Illegal Island (Seal Press)

In February 2000, writer Lea Aschkenas finds her way to Cuba with plans for a short visit. Already a seasoned traveller when she arrives, she soon finds herself caught up in the contradictions of Cuban life and the people's unique blend of innocence, resignation, and resolute optimism. Over the course of an extended stay and a later return sojourn to the island, Aschkenas falls in love with the country and with one of its companeros.


An Innocent in Cuba (McClelland & Stewart Ltd)

Armed only with an old friend's musings of her trip to Havana ten years earlier, author David McFadden boards a flight out of Toronto with a group of inquisitive Americans and heads south. What follows is a funny and gritty discovery tour of Cuba that isn't written up in guidebooks. From the city streets of Havana almost to the gates of Guantanamo, join McFadden on a trip through 'the most famous little country in the world'.


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