Cuban Hustles

We only experienced one attempted scam the whole time we were in Cuba, but we had been forewarned, so we were prepared.

So what was the hustle ?

Entronque de Las Ovas is on a crossroads on the Las Ovas road that you use to link from the autopiste to Vinales (it’s basically a shortcut to avoid Pinar del Rio). You must stop at the crossroads in town. As we proceeded slowly through the intersection (bad roads here mean everyone goes slowly), we were flagged down by a guy standing in front of our car. We stopped, wound down the window and he flashed an official-looking Tourist Guide card. Between our poor Spanish and his broken English, the conversation was a little comical, but basically he said he was an official Tourist Guide and he needed to get back to Vinales and we should take him (there are various versions, including meeting his wife, children waiting for him, etc).

The people we met who had fallen for this and picked him up, got about 10 minutes into their journey when the guy said he would need to be paid to show them how to get to Vinales. At that point, being Dutch, they said “no” and he asked them to stop and let him out – which they did.

As visitors in a foreign country where we didn’t speak the language, our rule for ourselves was “no one but us in our car”. When approached by the guy in Entronque de Las Ovas, we listened politely and then said, “we’re Australian and our government won’t allow us to have other people in the car”. He accepted that (what Cuban wouldn’t?) and stood back and wished us a good journey.

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