Tag Archives: costs

My Trip in a Cuban Ambulance

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I freely admit that sometimes I am a complete klutz and I can have two left feet.  When I was in Santiago de Cuba, I really looked forward to hearing some live music.  So I got prepped to go to the Casa de las Tradiciones.  Put on my tight jeans, a nice cleavage bearing tank top and some 4 inch heels…..WRONG!!

Lesson 1 – Never wear 4 inch heels (trying to look cute) on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, at night when you can’t see straight, in Cuba.  That’s just asking for trouble.

And of course, not 10 minutes after starting my journey, I took a dive into a hole on the side of a curb and twisted my ankle all the way round…at least that’s what it felt like, and I could have sworn I heard something crack.

Lesson 2 – When you severely twist your ankle, reconsider your footwear, go home and put your foot up.

Did I do that?  Of course not!  After yelping and tearing up a little, I proceeded to the Casa to hear that music (not dance) and then limped home.  And the next day I got up and walked/limped around all day.  Remember this is my dream destination and I wasn’t going to let a little pain keep me down.

So by the time I finally arrived in Trinidad, my foot had swollen to twice its normal size..totally gross and I figured I’d go see the doctor….who first said, “take your blood pressure medication”, then “you are going to the hospital”, in an ambulance, no less.  One thing about Cuban health care, they are darn efficient.  Between that doctor’s visit, the round-trip ambulance ride, x-rays, orthopedic consult, and final doctor’s exam, I was in and out in under 60 minutes.   And the total cost, including anti-inflammatory meds was $57.

Lesson 3 – Follow doctor’s orders as closely as possible.

They wanted to put a cast on my foot and have me off my feet for 15…yes 15 days.   Did I do that?  Of course not….duh, dream vacation!   I sat for an hour and a half, then I had to be up and about again.  You know what they say….you can’t keep a good woman down!  Oh yah!

Now that I’m back home, the swelling has finally gone away and while my foot still hurts, I’m walking with a small limp, and heels are an impossibility – I can say that it was totally worth it.

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Cuenca Day 5 – In the Land of English

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Today, in the land of English, it was all about building camaraderie, community and family.  We spent the late afternoon and evening with our friends, Frank and Angie, and their sons.  We had the best lasagna ever (veg and meat), we had the best conversation, and we felt right at home.

Also, as a side note, there are many who will tell you that you can not find a livable, place to live for $250 and that it is so difficult.  This is soooo wrong.

Fact Check

  • The average price of a an unfurnished three bedroom house and apartment will range from $250-$300.  That is what a Cuencano will pay.  Now you can always pay more and people will gladly take your money on a monthly basis…but if you are wise and frugal and want to live locally,this price range gets done all the time.
  • Having seen what a $250 house looks like in the flesh, I can tell you that it was beautiful.  Hardwood floors, french doors, granite counter tops, small indoor courtyard, larger outdoor patio and garden in the back, front courtyard and private, secure gated entry with security intercom.
  • If you are paying up to $600 in rent, it better be for a beautiful, fully furnished, multi-story, 4 bedroom house in the city with gated entry, private yards and loads of extras; that is, luxury level (more detail in upcoming post).
  • If you can speak a little Spanish and make friends with locals, walk around and have an open mind, you will find what you are looking for to fit almost any budget…except free (probably).
  • If you want to live in a condo with other Americans or in an expat heavy neighborhood, then you will pay more.  If you want to eat and hang out in expat frequented places, you will pay more.
  • Everything is available to you …. so the choices you make are your own.

Now back to building community.  I do not advocate foreign resident communities that operate within themselves and for the most part, exclude locals, except where necessary.  I do advocate for nurturing friendships across language barriers and cultural differences so that each enriches the life of the other.  I also realize, however, that there is something to be said for the familiarity of home in a foreign country, for not having to struggle to communicate every time you speak, for having friends that “get” what this experience is like.

So my caution is – moderation is the best path.  Be willing to open yourself up not only to the new and local culture, but also, to the people who are also part of your own national culture.  I started out this post saying that we felt at home with our friends and we would have missed that had I been absolutely opposed to contact with any Americans (yes Canadians too) living here.

Even when you leave home behind, you still carry the warmest piece of it with you – and sometimes you find that warmth in new friends who are kindred spirits.