The article below was written by Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL and Hurricane Group, Inc. CEO, and was featured in Men’s Journal. He discusses his recent trip to Cuba and also gives tips on traveling to the once forbidden island.- Desiree

I’ve always been fascinated by the small island country that’s swimming distance from Key West. Tropical weather, warm water, beautiful women, cigars, Hemingway, and boat drinks — what’s not to like? And, to be honest, I’ve wanted to go for a while. I’ve wanted to visit before the massive invasion of pasty white baby-boomer Midwest-American chubbers ruined the perfect picture of Havana I had built up in my head. Plus, as any warm-blooded male is wont to do, I had visions of rescuing some beautiful mixed Russian-Cuban girl with green eyes and a sexy accent. I would steal her away from the grips of Cuba’s failed blend of communist-run socialism and bring her back to the city — proof to all my guy friends that dating foreign women is actually the key to happiness for American men. If it works for Trump, then hell, I was game to give it a try. I was also keen to check out Hemingway’s Finca Vigia and a few of his old Havana haunts. So I packed a small bag, grabbed my passport, and off I went in search of adventure, desperately needing a break from Manhattan’s serial dating scene.

City Center

My Game Plan

Fly down on a Sunday, spend three days and be back Wednesday for a business meeting I couldn’t miss. I didn’t want to hire a U.S.-based tour agency, as I figured it would elevate my profile and be a huge waste of money. It’s a decision I’m glad I made. I booked the Hotel Saratoga, which is centrally located, only a short walk to old Havana, and recommended by a friend.

Getting There Safely — And Without Getting Screwed Over

As a former Navy SEAL sniper turned media CEO who’s worked with a variety of three-letter intelligence agencies, I have friends who could make Jason Bourne shit his pants. Point being, I know a bit about personal protection and blending in to your travel environment — something most passengers on my Delta flight 442 to Havana could’ve used massive help with.

The most difficult things about Cuban travel are money, cell coverage, and Wi-Fi — things I’ll get to in a sec. The first issue is getting a flight. These days you can book a direct flight to Cuba online, and you can pick up your Cuba travel visa and State Department declaration form at the airport — that’s it, very easy. But there are still scams: the Cuban visa is $50 dollars at the airport. The guy next to me in line bought his for $80 online and wasn’t happy I told him I was getting mine for $30 less.

Fast forward three hours later, and I was in warm tropical weather. Walking off the plane, the third-world smell hit me with familiarity that brought a smile to my face. I don’t care if you’re in Mexico, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Cuba, the smell is roughly the same, a byproduct of inadequate sewer, trash, and other basic services we take for granted in America. Clearing customs was easy, now off to my hotel.

I did my homework and knew that a cab to the Saratoga should cost $25 U.S. They’ll take U.S. money most everywhere (including cabs), and start at $40 but hold firm. Also, don’t get suckered waiting to change money at the airport, the line is massive and hours long and you’ll get a fair rate and no line at any nice Havana hotel. So in my moderate-to-fair Spanish I negotiated my cab rate and was off.

From the main terminal, it takes about 20 minutes to get downtown. The first thing I noticed, as all Americans do, were the amazing vintage cars, a symbol of old American auto dominance long past. I haven’t owned a car in years — just airplanes — but watching those vehicles made me want to go on an eBay auto bidding binge.