Connecting in Cuba
Tech tips for the El Cocodrilo island
With recent easing of trade and travel restrictions, Cuba is once again a top hot spot for American tourists, particularly those interested in Afro-Latin culture. The country boasts a rich history connected to the African diaspora, with the Continent’s influence reflected in everything from the people, to the cuisine, to spiritual practices. But before you pack your bag, know that visiting Cuba is not without its challenges especially when trying to stay connected.
Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your stay.
1. Find Some Friends—Get the real from people who have already visited the island. Facebook has a number of African American travel or interest groups that are great resources to prepare you for the trip to Havana. Research places to visit, get recommendations on where to stay and dine, find local hotspots, and even arrange to meet up with other travelers while there.
2. Apps = Major Keys—There are a few apps to download before you leave that will be clutch during your stay in Havana. Translation apps are a necessity if you’re not fluent in Spanish. Also make sure to consider your messaging and video chatting needs. If you have the Genie DVR system, download the DIRECTV app to your favorite mobile device and watch your recorded shows and movies offline.
3. Get Your Mind Right—While there is Wi-Fi in Cuba, it is not always readily available. Wi-Fi access points are available in major hotels, but most travelers stay in rental properties that rarely have internet access. Don't worry: Havana has a number of "Wi-Fi Parks," public grounds where a signal is accessible. If you see a small crowd of people gathered all looking down at their devices, you know you're in the right place.
4. Gather Your Coins. Once your device detects a Wi-Fi signal, you will need a Wi-Fi card to connect to the internet. Those cost about $2–3 CUC (the Cuban Dollar) for one hour of service. You can buy them at airports and hotels, but it is also common for people to have cards available for sale in Wi-Fi accessible areas. Also take the time to reach out to your service provider ahead of your trip and get educated on the costs before you make that international call.
5. Night Time is the Right Time—During the day, everyone is looking to share and connect with family and friends. With all that competition, the likelihood of being dropped is high. If you're hoping to get your Facebook or Instagram Live popping, you'll have better luck the later in the evening it gets.
Cuba is a beautiful vacation destination that, if anything, will leave you with a greater appreciation for the connectivity we so freely enjoy in the United States. If you have any tips for making the most out of a trip to Cuba, share your experience using the hashtag #TheBridgeATT.