Looks like Cuba is catching up with the world...
When I left Cuba in December of 2000, only a few people had access to the internet or a computer. There was no cell phone use yet except for you know, people higher up in the government. For a very long time, my mom wanted to have a phone at home, and it was a battle with the ETECSA office every time she tried to apply for one. They would say that there were too many phone lines already in the neighborhood or that she didn't need one. One day, I bought the phone, but we didn't have a phone line to installed it. So, I asked my neighbor if I could install it in their home so we could use the line to talk to my family and of course my fiancee back here in the United States. They agreed, and I was able to use their line freely, but when they left Cuba (political asylum), the government took everything from them including my phone and converted the house into a government office.
By that time, I was already here in Nashville, and I was very happy for my neighbors that they got the chance to get out of the country, but then we lost the phone and the phone line. When we got our 3rd generation of the iPhone, I told my husband that we ought to give my mom the old iPhone so I could get her a cell phone line and not have to depend on anyone else to talk to her. He agreed and for the first time back in 2012 my mom was able to have her own phone line finally. When I went to visit the family in 2014, my mom was teaching my aunt how to do something on the phone (photo above). That was a precious moment.
Although, I could communicate with my mom via phone, many times I wished I could video call her, and it has been possible a few times with the help of my brother who is a computer wiz and those moments were so surreal that I cry at times. As the government continues to improve its communication system, more people are able to get connected with the outside world. Cuba authorized home internet access in 2017, and hundreds of public Wi-Fi connection points have opened in parks and plazas around the country. This past Tuesday night, the government announced that Cuban citizens would be offered full internet access for mobile phones, becoming one of the last nations to provide such service. Until now, Cubans have had access only to state-run email accounts on their phones.
Mayra Arevich, president of the Cuban state telecom monopoly ETECSA, went on national television to say Cubans can begin contracting 3G service for the first time last Thursday. The Cuban government has been building a 3G network in cities across the island and some tourists, Cuban government officials and foreign business people have had access to it for several years.
What's worrisome is the cost for usage as the new service will cost about 10 cents per megabyte, with packages ranging from 600 megabytes for about $7 to four gigabytes for about $30. Those prices are roughly in line with global standards but still out of reach for many Cubans who subsist on state salaries of about $30 a month. I hope that eventually they drop the price and increase the amount of data per CUC. As per me and the communication with my mom... I continue to make one phone call a month and email. I will for sure be adding some funds to my mom's account so that we can video chat for a few minutes.
Hop On - Hop Off Bus in Cuba
In one of my previous posts, I talked about how to move around in Cuba and how much we love the classic cars, but there is a big issue in Cuba today about transportation and how expensive it can become because of the gas prices, and the Cuban government regulation of the private sector. Last Friday, the government announced that it was importing hundreds of microbuses and buses to alleviate the growing transportation shortage. Cuba has been dependent on Venezuela for many years for oil supply and as the Cuban tourism demand growth, so it increases the demand for more ways to transport people.
Cuba has also restored its national flights from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey, but it's challenging to plan tours to other parts of the country because unless you don't mind long trips by bus through the countryside, that might be the only way to go. Flights to Santiago de Cuba are daily but only one flight a week to and from Camagüey on Tuesdays. As you may know, the country made international headline for a terrible plane crash on May 18 this year where there was only one survivor.
Sharing some news
I'm so proud of myself the my new accomplishment. I was able to complete the Independent Home-Based Advisor Certification W/TAPt certification by the end of November. It took a lot of time and commitment but it was totally worth it. I learned so much about the travel industry and soon I will be part of a big family of travel agents at a Travel Host agency with access to more ways to serve you in your travel needs.
Where did the year go?
Life goes by fast when you are having fun! That's what my husband used to tell me, and it's so true. I had so much fun this year planning tours, traveling back home with some of you on an educational trip where you were able to learn, enjoy and discover Cuba. Moreover, writing about my homeland and sharing stories about my life in Cuba has been very rewarding. I've learned so much about my own country, met so many wonderful people and grown as a business owner. All that because of you and your support for my business and my people.
Talking about tours, I have created this exclusive deal for you, your family and friends. The holidays are just around the corner, and you are probably scratching your head about what to give to your significant other, your son or daughter as a graduation present or just a gift to yourself. Well, a tour to Cuba might be the perfect gift for them. Click the link on the picture above or here to book your deal. Would you rather talk on over the phone? Not a problem, you can contact me here: +1 (615) 412-9615
Have a fantastic Holiday Season wherever you decide to go or do. Be safe and know that the team at Your Tour Guide to Cuba, LLC wishes you and your family happiness and lots of travel in the new year. As always, I'm a phone call away, and Cuba is just at your fingertips!
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