It's amazing to me that we can still visit such unique places. This was definitely not like anywhere else. First of all, there is NO McDonald's, KFC, or Coca Cola (which was wonderful). Everyone in the country is so friendly, happy, and helpful. Everywhere we looked was something colorful and interesting whether is was a person, building, vehicle, or bit of nature.
We certainly learned a lot about their economy and social situation which was quite different than anywhere we've been. They have two different currencies, one for the tourists, and one for the locals. The local money is worth 25 to 1 against the tourist money and they have different shops that use the pricing and currency for the locals (we were occasionally able to use the tourist money at a modified price at the locals shops).
The locals only make about $10/month but they also get their housing for free and about half the month's food for free. Their education and health systems are also quite incredible and are free or cheap for the locals.
Music is everywhere (including tons of reggaeton!). And they can dance like you wouldn't believe. Old American 50's cars abound. We were in awe the whole time we were there. We also enjoyed the local coffee, rum, and cigars.
There is definitely the mentality that all tourists will spend a lot of money while there. Tourists are almost expected to go on the package tours, buy expensive meals at the restaurants or in the casa particulares, and visit the high priced resort town. We were able to get quite a bit of budget food and reasonable rooms, but transport killed us. It's quite pricey to get around the country no matter what mode you take. Of course the locals have their own inexpensive methods on which the tourists are not allowed. I do think if we had a longer time there that we would have been able to infiltrate the local scene a bit more.
All in all is seems like a great country in every way. Sure the locals have complaints with their government, but what country doesn't have that? It was a beautiful and very safe place to visit.
The daily total includes all lodging, food, booze, transportation, sightseeing, visas, etc. I don't include the money I spend on gifts for friends and I do not include the flight price.