practice drunk

The details have been ironed out and the deposits paid – we’re going to Cuba in May.

I’m excited. I’ve never been on a tropical vacation before, and neither has Ed. There’s a group of us going, and we’ll be there for a whole week. That’s a lot of communist sun to soak up, and I’m ready for it. I bought a Kindle so I can sit and read, and when that gets boring, I’ve been told I can rent a scooter and ride around looking for treasure. It’ll be an adventure in every sense of the word, and I am really looking forward to it.

I do have a minor concern about the trip – a niggling little worry that, if I let it, will turn into a full-blown panic attack. It’s not the flight or safety or the resort – those things will be fine. I’m not even all that concerned about our cats or home; we have A Plan. No, I’m trying hard not to freak out about something much more important:

Do they have Diet Coke in Cuba?

Everyone else is excited about drinking mojitos on the beach until they can’t stand up. This holds little interest to me – I don’t drink, and I like standing up. While I’m sure there will be a number of non-alcoholic options available, I’m really only interested in one: I drink Diet Coke. That’s it. I’ll drink water if there’s nothing else available, but everything I’ve read says to avoid water and ice cubes. What the hell am I going to do? I need my Diet Coke! It’s my caffeine, my best friend, my secret lover! I can’t even go one day without the deliciousness, let alone 8! Do I really need to bring clothing? Can I use my suitcase to smuggle in a supply?

Try though I might, I can’t see a way around this. I’m certainly not going to skip the trip just because I can’t wean myself from the chemical tit, but I need to find something else I can live off for a week without suffering from withdrawal. I’ve only thought of one half-assed solution, and I’m not too crazy about it: I’m going to have to learn to drink.

I’m thankfully not allergic to rum, so I’ll start there. We have some random rum in the closet somewhere, and I picked up some mango-infused rum to practice on. I will practice until I am Awesome at Drinking. I will get really Good at Drinking so I can spend my vacation plastered off my ass – the Thing to Do, apparently – so I won’t be annoyed at the lack of Diet Coke. This is a good plan, right? You can do anything if you just practice hard enough.

Who wants to get practice drunk with me?

Here is a picture of a tiny bejeweled monkey for some reason:

i do not know why i am

11 thoughts on “practice drunk

  1. Our resort (Sandals at Varadero) had Coke, but only at some bars on some days. I don’t like diet coke so I didn’t look for it. We saw Coke occasionally in our second week, which we spent outside of the resorts, but most places only had the local stuff which was actually pretty decent, at least when mixed with rum! The embargo means that supplies of pretty much everything are very hit and miss, and the packaging of what you do find seems to be in random languages (Spanish, English, Russian and Chinese, mostly).

  2. Yes, it depends on your resort. I wouldn’t count on finding the official Diet Coke (but you may get lucky). However, there is a local brand which is OK (think supermarket diet cola). I’m sure it’ll keep you aspartame’d up for 8 days.

  3. Not that this helps you, but there is a really really delicious pineapple pop there. I wish I had brought some back. Yum.

  4. Last time I was in Cuba, I don’t recall seeing any Diet Coke (as it’s an American product). There was plenty of Fanta, however. And of course, Cuba Libras and Mojitos. Actually, now that I write that: Cuba Libra is Rum and Coke. Hmmm. Maybe “Coke”.

    Where will you be staying? Varadero? If so, I HIGHLY recommend you take a day trip into Havana. Cubans are fun and friendly people. See if you can befriend some locals and then you can get into the salsa clubs that are normally off limits to tourists. I’ve spent time in Havana and a short amount of time in Varadero and Havana is one of the best places I’ve ever explored.

    Also, Varadero is closed to Cubans, unless they work there. The two different monies make doing certain things a bit of a challenge. The Convertible Peso is designed for tourists. Also, if you can, bring toiletries, feminine hygiene products and little bits and bobs like pencils and paper. The items are always appreciated by the locals and the hotel staff.

    Enjoy your trip! Cuba is bitter sweet and beautiful!

  5. The US embargo, as noted previously, blocks Diet Coke access except at the most expensive resorts. Local cola production is a monopoly, with the brands tuKola and Tropicola, but Fanta is fantastic, and Cola de Inca is an imported favourite of many here in freezing Calgary, and both have been seen in Cuba.

    There are imports of clones from Eastern European trading partners. But if you’re looking for a tasty and guilt-free caffeine high, look for a Brazilian . Cola, that is.

    Taste is a consideration, but you want to see on the label, in Spanish :
    azucar ( sugar ) nada nil zip zilch
    caffeina enough to fill a piss bucket

    and to ask for local varieties, the words are
    cola dieta
    cola sin azucar

  6. Nobody posted the most important thing about drinking in the tropics.

    Avoid ice if possible. Drink Black Russians, which is just rocket fuel and caffeine.

  7. Then there’s the art of tipping in Cuba. Money can’t buy them happiness, because it’s not available in the government-controlled stores. But many bring extra clothing, esp. Levis,old stuff that doesn’t fit any more, and leave it there as a tip.

    Or you could ask about Diet Coke at

    Vancouver Amigos De Cuba
    Amigos De Cuba is a B.C. based an independent non-profit, non-partisan and non-governmental association that promotes friendship and cooperation between Canada and Cuba. We organize the Canadian Volunteer Work Brigade to Cuba every year.
    P.O. Box 21540
    1850 Commercial Drive
    Vancouver, BC V5N 4A0
    Phone/Fax (604) 327-6844

  8. I’m in agreement with Ken about the art of tipping in Cuba. Loads of things we take for granted because of easy access, are greatly appreciated in Cuba. That all said, there’s a big difference between the Convertible Peso and the Cuban Peso. The Convertible Peso buys you different things than the Cuban Peso. You’ll actually find that at money exchanges, they often won’t convert the Convertible Peso to the Cuban Peso for you, saying: No no, the Cuban Peso isn’t for you. What that means is that the Convertible Peso isn’t something most Cubans can get their hands on, UNLESS they work in the tourism industry. It’s been a few years since I’ve been, but one convertible peso was equal to roughly 25 cuban pesos. You can befriend some Cubans who will convert the money for you, thus giving you access to clubs you wouldn’t normally be able to go to. Also, for a Cuban, the convertible peso means they can purchase items they can’t with the cuban peso, so keep that in mind when tipping too. It’s not that it’s highly coveted, but the Convertible Peso has created a monetary divide in Cuba. It’s most noticeable in the tourism industry. I met a basketball coach who quit his job teaching kids the sport so he could go serve food in a hotel so he could gain access to the convertible peso.

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