李明熙、Kimberlogic:古巴初體驗

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初遊古巴/李明熙

第一天到古巴,對雙幣制摸不著頭腦,到底餐廳外的價錢牌,寫著$2 一杯特濃咖啡,是遊客外滙 CUC 或是本地披索 CUP?

$2 CUC 兌 15.5 港元,一杯咖啡價錢絕不過分;是 $2 CUP 的話,即 0.65 港元,對平均月入只有 200 港元的本地人來說,亦看似合理。看到當地人付款時,知道是 $2 CUP 一杯,我們用 CUC 付,找回 CUP,兩種貨幣同樣通行。古巴自 2004 年開始實行的雙幣制,現今名存實亡。不過同樣的貨品,在不同地區的訂價可以是天淵之別。

圖左為遊客外滙 CUC;圖右則為本地披索 CUP。

我們住在夏灣拿中心的平民區,CUP 標價的店居多,在舊城區的商店打正旗號做遊客生意,則以 CUC 訂價。我們吃過 12 CUC 的遊客餐,亦嚐過 30 CUP 的平民餐,風味不同,但都是明碼實價,最重要是遊客現在有多個消費選擇,可以到平民商店,多了解民生。

有選擇並不表示種類多,走進國營超巿或百貨公司,生活所需用品不缺,但貨品總陳列出一股 70 年代的氣息,貨架大小跟貨品數量不成正比。在街上賣遊客紀念品的個體戶,小小店舖塞滿商品,卻全城倒模式賣著同一樣的東西。

問當地人,過去兩年生活有甚麼大改變?物質生活豐富了,人民努力賺錢,但收入嚴重懸殊,醫生的月入不及酒店服務員一天的小費。大家都知道旅遊業流入的快錢,已經破壞了古巴的經濟結構,街上開始出現討錢的孩童和老人,以及鍥而不捨地拉客的的士司機,人民只希望政府的政策可趕得上熱錢流入。

已故革命領袖卡斯特羅的弟弟勞爾,決定在 2018 年退下國家領導人職位,大家都不知道沒有革命政府的古巴將會變成怎樣。外國人戲言古巴會變得資本主義,若要一睹還有社會主義的古巴,再不來就不要來;本地人則說,不論將來是甚麼主義,遊客還是無法抗拒古巴帶點浪漫革命歷史的引誘。

Cuba Rum and Cigar/Kimberlogic

When we arrived in Havana I was so excited to be in Cuba, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Unlike any other country we’ve been to thus far, being in Cuba gave me a feeling like I was doing something that my parents told me not to do, which made it even more exciting.

Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s in the United States, anything Cuban was illegal. Since I was born after any of the major conflicts between the two countries it was hard for me to understand why this country was off-limits and why any products from Cuba were talked about so secretively.

Under President Obama’s administration, travel to Cuba for Americans was made easier and more legal for the first time in 50+ years. Although, technically not allowed for tourism, 12 categories were set up and if you fit into one of those categories, you could legally obtain a general license for travel. The problem for the first few American travelers to Cuba was the customs limit on what they could bring back into the USA.

Two of the most famous products from Cuba that tourists go crazy for are rum and cigars. Since relations between Cuba and the USA still aren’t great, Americans do not have access to any Cuban products in the United States. For roughly the first year that Cuba was opened to Americans, a traveler returning to the USA could only bring back rum and cigars that their combined value did not exceed US$100. You can’t even buy a box of good cigars with only US$100 and a bottle of rum would already have taken US$20 of your US$100 limit, so this was quite troublesome.

After that first year, US customs relaxed their stance and now allows an unlimited monetary value. They do limit the number of duty-free bottles and an amount of duty-free cigars, but if you exceed that limit, a 4% tax is charged. Because I grew up with the idea that everything Cuban is forbidden, and the fact that the USA’s relationships and policies with other countries are changing rapidly these days, I felt it was best to check the laws regarding Cuban products before purchasing anything.

After feeling comfortable with my research, it was time for some shopping. Of course, in order to choose the perfect gift, I had to taste the products myself. Havana Club rum is popular throughout the world, but when I told Ming Hay we do not have it in the States, he finally began to realize why gifts from Cuba would be so special for my family. So, after a tour of the Havana Club museum, we stocked up on a few bottles.

In order to buy cigars, we needed to learn more about tobacco, so we took a day trip from Havana to Vinales; Cuba’s most famous and prized tobacco region. We visited a tobacco farm and learned the entire process of growing, drying and curing the leaves. We picked up some freshly rolled cigars from the farm to go along with the fancy store bought brands that are world-famous.

Even if your country has Cuban products, when you travel to Cuba, everyone tries the rum and tobacco. I think the fact that it has been forbidden in the USA for so long makes it even more special to Americans.

我們的 #Home2HomeTravel

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李明熙、Kimberlogic 雜碎集

我們沒分東方或西方思想,只想以雜碎的遊歷去建立自己的世界觀和價值觀。We are neither eastern nor western mind. We just want to establish our worldview and values through traveling. 【李明熙】 曾用七個月時間從柏林踏單車回港,又不自量力參加蒙古越野單車賽。現從事影像製作、旅遊、教育等,自我催眠周身刀。著有「陌路回家」、「單車遊牧」及「良業遊民」。 【Kimberlogic】 An American who resides on the small island of Peng Chau, in Hong Kong, has a passion for traveling, partaking in local food and drink, different cultures and customs and watching people react to the world around them.

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