So the Melia Habana. We were not aware such luxurious resorts were available for just $50 a night! Had I not come with Lora there would be no chance to stay in such a place.  Regardless, we have pretty much decided to stay here for the entire week instead of heading down to Trinidad. I think I will head there for sure during the week on my own.

We arrived at 1 p.m. and were already pretty spent from such early wake-up time, so Lora and I spent the day tanning and resting the immense pool. At around 5:30 p.m. a synchronized swimming team came by to practice in the pool. We took that as our cue to prep for dinner, which we had in the hotel’s Italian restaurant. There are a network restaurants in the basement, all situated around the waterfalls and pleasant, lagoon-like courtyard. There’s also a cigar room, which we will certainly try out tonight.

We paid an extra $70 for a view of the ocean and are quite happy with it! Our “twin” beds are actually double beds. We have a little patio, along with couches. Our marble bathroom even has a badet (that weird toilet you use to wipe your butt). I was eager to see what kinds of television programs were available on TV, and quite surprised to discover half of our 40 channels were American stations. I got excited when I flipped past a Spanish-dubbed episode of “Alias.” (I also watched “Alias” in Spanish when I was in Villa de Leyva, Colombia – go Sydney Bristow!). About ten channels are in English. There are also French and Chinese stations.

I had a really nice pesto and shrimp pasta and tiramisu for dinner – a bit of a splurge at $20 convertibles. By 8 p.m. Lora and I were pretty spent. We decided to retire early-ish. I purchased an hour of WiFi for $8 whopping convertibles. I have a feeling internet will be much more reasonable in town.

Now, a word on changing money in Cuba. I was warned that there are two currencies here in Cuba and that one is practically useless to tourists. This is indeed true: tourists use “convertibles” (or CUC); locals use “pesos” (or CUP). I was SHOCKED to find that the conversion from convertible to Western currencies QUITE steep here (not in our favor, either) – particularly here at the Melia, where I’ve exchanged $400 Canadian dollars for $280 convertibles. When I researched it online, it seemed the convertible was roughly equal to the U.S. dollar, but here, the conversion is very askew! 1 convertible is 80 U.S. cents. here at the Melia and 70 Canadian cents. I’m better off spending my Canadian money first before my U.S. dollars, as Cuba-Canada money conversion is far more favorable.

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