My Adventures with Cuban Banks

It was a tense moment when I found out just how much my flight back to Canada was going to be. I am referring to Ernesto and the 385CUC I need to slip him to garner passage to the great land of Canada. We didn’t take a lot of cash when we got here mostly because I wasn’t garnering having to fly M & I home for cash. I had a small panic when I realized that I didn’t have enough money for Ernesto and the car ride to the airport, as well as the 25cuc that you need to pay to leave the country! Free to get in but not so free to get out. :) So I wrestled up a spot of time this afternoon to run into Veradaro to pull some money off my credit card (for an 11% commission I might add) I got a taxi and off I went.

The bank looks like a health clinic does in Canada. It was cold and sterile with no sense of cheer anywhere. The door was opened by two security guards that stopped me with a raised hand.
“What are you here for!!!” said the security guard in reasonable good English.
“Um money I am here for money. Cash from a credit card???” I said meekly
“Do you have your passport?” Still in that good English and gruf voice. I nodded yes, “go sit and wait!”

So I sat and waited in a chair that had no bottom. Seriously it was like sitting on a toilet or probably more accurately like sitting in the broken driver’s seat of my beetle complete with the poky horse hair itch. (Volkswagen owners know what I am talking about) No one smiled, no one talked, and it was quiet enough that you wouldn’t have been able to sneak a fart without drawing the attention of everyone, including the scary security people. I sat & waited untill there was a teller open. The gruff voiced security guard pointed at me like I was being singled out as one of Castro’s would be assassins, (he had like 800 assassination attempts while he was in power!) and then he pointed at the teller. I go up and I smile say what I want to an equally gruff looking woman that demands passport and visa. She looks at the passport, looks at me, looks at the passport, looks at me, looks at the passport, looks at me, gruffly nods and looks at my visa looks at my passport, looks at my Visa, Looks at my passport, looks at my visa, looks at my passport, looks at me,. another gruff nod. Looks at the back of my visa and immediately stuffs it all back though he little hole. “Not signed” she says, “talk to him” she says with a wave of her hand referring to the aforementioned gruff security guard. For reasons that are still unclear to me he directed me to the bank down the street. The bank down the street was really no different similar gruff security guards and similar grumpy bank tellers. This bank didn’t really seem to care about the signature and they gave me my escape money with out issue! :) I was relieved! Part one of my clandestine escape from Cuba completed.

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