It costs $2.29 per hour to use the Cuban government's slow, censored public WiFi.
One would think that they would be eager to take your money. But one would be wrong. It's actually kind of hard to get them to take it.
Once WiFi is provisioned, the use of it is essentially free. So the sale of additional WiFi cards is just free money for the government. That's why it's confusing why they make you jump through hoops to give them that free money.
One example: We noticed that the bar at this luxury hotel in Trinidad sold WiFi cards (the hotels are also government owned here). So Amira tried to buy three 5-hour cards. The bartender said that we needed to buy drinks in order to buy cards. So she ordered two coffees and three cards. He said: "No, you can only buy two cards with two drinks."
There's an ETECSA office around the corner, so Amira tried to buy some cards there. So she got in the long line. A government worker at the door was pleasantly answering questions by Cuban customers. But when Amira asked her a question (in fluent Spanish but without a Cuban accent), she acted like Amira didn't exist. The woman also let other people who were behind Amira in without letting Amira in.
A really nice man who was also in line was disgusted by how Amira was being treated and suggested that someone else should buy the cards for her, and implored the woman at the door to let Amira in to no effect.
Finally, Amira physically blocked the front door, and the woman begrudgingly let her in.
When Amira arrived at the counter, the ETECSA rep literally acted like Amira wasn't standing there for like 15 minutes. She chatted away with co-workers, and even stared into space for minutes on end with Amira literally standing two feet in front of her. Eventually, she acknowledged Amira's existence and sold Amira the cards.
An hour and a half and $35 later, we can finally use the Internet.