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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Guest Blog: Suz deMello: Tuesday Morning is the Best Time to Arrive in Havana

I travel as much as I can, not just for inspiration but for engagement. When I'm unhappy, the best way for me to get away from the source of my distress is to leave (duh). Additionally, when I travel, especially to someplace new, I'm deeply engaged in my life and have no mental space for worrying about whatever it was that was bothering me. When I don't know the language, don't know where I'm staying, don't know where I'll eat my next meal, I have a lot more to focus on rather than dwelling on my last unhappy love affair (usually my issue, alas).

And so it was with my latest trip out of the USA. After the president announced plans to open the USA's relationship with Cuba, I decided to travel there ASAP so as not to see Havana when its skyline would be dominated by the Starbucks mermaid and the Golden Arches.

But I really screwed this one up.

At this time, Cuba has no banking relationship with the USA. That means that you have to have money in hand before you leave for Cuba, because your ATM card and credit card won't work there. So I planned to go to Cancun, withdraw a bunch of money, and then fly to Cuba.

Unfortunately, I neglected to tell my bank, so when I started to withdraw money, I got maybe $400 and then...nada. Zip. Zero.

I emailed my bank to no avail.

I tried to phone, but neither my hotel phone nor my cellie would get through (Damn you, Virgin!)

So I landed in Cuba with maybe a quarter of the funds I needed to have a really good time, or even to eat three meals daily.

I told myself that this was a good time to lose weight.

I shared a taxi from the airport into Havana with a couple of Ukrainian dudes and immediately paid the host of my casa particular for the stay. Alex was extremely kind, allowing me the use of his computer so I wouldn't have to pay a hotel at their business center for internet access--I was trying desperately to make sure I'd have enough money for the next phase of my journey, which was Isla Mujeres.

Nevertheless, I still had a good time researching my story for the Naughty Literati, One Hot Havana Night. I couldn't afford taxis, so I walked all over Havana Vieja, the tourist quarter, where I set my story. A friendly expat showed me a lunchroom where I could eat a huge meal for $1-2--so that's where I ate. It was pretty good food--a protein (eggs, chicken or meat) with a little salad, plus rice and beans--typically Cuban meals. I even had enough left over so I could go to a bar and get a drink while listening to the local music every night.

Havana was great, but it's nevertheless a tourist trap. It's just that the tourists aren't Americans. Lots of Europeans, especially Italians, and a number of Japanese.

I learned a lot. Most people seemed pretty contented. As for the economic system, while I heard someone complain that they work really hard for little money, I saw only one or two people who seemed to be badly off. Everyone else looked happy and well-fed, though not obese. I saw many of the famous classic American cars, but I saw a lot of new cars as well--Peugeots and Kias, Hyundais and even Benzes. I just didn't see newer American cars. That's because Cuba isn't isloated at all. It's just that we don't have an economic relationship with them. Other countries have been trading with Cuba quite happily.

Still, I can't say that the place is well run. The Castros seem to be good at getting and keeping power, and not so hot at using it. Many of the old, beautiful buildings are crumbling, though I must say that they're making an effort to resurrect them. Many streets are dug up as improvements are being made. And this brings me to the title of this post.

 So why is Tuesday morning the best time to arrive in Havana?

Because the trash is picked up Monday night, at least in the part of Havana where I stayed. Until then, it's thrown into giant Dumpsters by the locals. As you can imagine, the garbage gets pretty ripe in the tropical heat.

But Havana smells great on a Tuesday morning.

BLURB: Naughty Escapes Anthology
Eleven Naughty Vacation Getaways
including BBW, BDSM, Contemporary, Dark Fantasy,M/M, Ménage, Paranormal & Shape-shifter, from Amazon bestselling authors!

Take a naughty trip around the world with us to a penthouse playroom in San Francisco, the shore of Lake Superior, a deserted island in The Bermuda Triangle, a Mob-controlled nightclub in pre-revolutionary Havana, along the River Cam near Cambridge University in England, a sex club in Paris, a nude beach in Barcelona, the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, a villa overlooking Lake Como in Italy, a honeymoon in Berlin, and a swanky condo in Zurich.

Here’s where you can score a copy:

Suz deMello's story, One Hot Havana Night,  will be available on July 1 in the Naughty Escapes anthology. Here's what it's about:
Havana, 1958... On the eve of the revolution, journalist Ellie Wheeler dreams of the biggest story of her life. Two hot men make all her dreams come true—even ones she didn’t know she had. (And yes! There's an M/F/M menage!

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written nineteen books in several genres, including nonfiction, romance, erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Find her books at
For editing services, email her at
Befriend her on Facebook:
She tweets @Suzdemello
Her current blog is


Lynda Bailey said...

Awesome post, Suz - and I'm soooo happy you're home safe and sound. :)
Unlike you, I hate to travel. For me, getting on a plane equates to having my gums scraped. It might be necessary (to visit family, go to writing conferences, etc) but me no likey. However, I looooove reading about new places (like Havana!) in books. And when said books have some hardcore humping going on - bonus! ;)
Best of luck with your book bundle...Happy travels!

Cara Marsi said...

Loved your post. I admire your courage in traveling there alone. I have wanted to travel to Cuba for years. A friend was there about 10 years ago (she flew from the Bahamas on a Canadian airline) and loved it. She told me about having to use cash and also about taking her own toilet paper. I'd like to travel there while it's still "authentic." I can't wait to read your story.

Tonette said...

I never cease to be amazed at your courage. It took me a long time to find any in myself.
Keep traveling and keep the reports coming.

Suz said...

Thanks for hosting me, and thanks for your great comments!

I love to travel and mostly there's nothing to be afraid of. Of course, I'd never travel to a war zone or anywhere I'd feel threatened--otherwise, what's the problem?

jean hart stewart said...

You are one amazing lady...there is so much to see but it takes guts to see as much as you have. Keep going, girl!

Melissa Keir said...

Wow, what an adventure! You have more guts than I do. I'm glad though that you have found something you love and set off to do it. All the best on the Anthology. It sounds great!

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