Even if there’s much much more than 10. Cuba is all about music. Salsa, son, reggaeton are played everyday at Cuban houses, work, schools, streets. Just everywhere. Want to feel a Cuban vibe? When you come back from work today put these on and enjoy your Friday.
Living in Cuba with Fidel it´s been a learning process. Cubans are so open and easy going that in no time I´ve became a part of the family. There are so many things that still annoys me but I have definitely learn some things one day I take with me to Europe. And here it is:
1) First of all I´ve learned that if you have last 10 CUC in your pocket and no idea what to do the next day, today you should forget it, buy a bottle of rum, go out, dance it out and enjoy the day. And you worry tomorrow.
2) With the time I actually got used to rice and beans an feel strange when there´s something different on the plate. I promised to Fidel that one day when we go to Europe he can cook Cuban food once a week. For the beginning 🙂
3) Salsa. I know, I´m Polish with no sense of rhythm and I still make mistakes but at least I can follow now. Who know what will happen in few years…
4) Patience. Yes. Living in Cuba require more patience than you think. In everything: shopping, queuing, everything.
5) Living without all the First Worlds´s comforts like 150 channels in TV, unlimited Wi-Fi, normal stove or washing machine and a house which doesn´t get flooded every time it rains…
6) I´ve learned finally how to negotiate prices on the street because there´s always a different price for a Cuban and different one for a Yuma.
I´ve been living in Cuba for almost three months now. It´s enough to have by now my own opinion on this nation. After living with Cubans, partying with Cubans I came to some conclusions:
1) Cubans know the concept of sharing like nobody else. Seriously, they help each other, they share everything they have even if it´s not much. If you have family or friends in Cuba you´ll never end up hungry or homeless. No chance.
2) Cubans are the most smart people on this planet. They know everything about everything. Even if they didn´t study, have 4 chanells in tv and limited Internet. They just know. About politics, food, sports, medicine, cars, electronics, paper work etc. They just know. They would come back home with small cherry tomatos and claim they just brought you plums. Because they know better than you.
3) Cubans (most of them) have never traveled but they know this world like nobody else and again, they know it better than you who traveled for the last 10 years or more. About visas, planes, food overseas. They got it.
4) Cubans know how to party and that´s a fact. Less money they have more than5) enjoy life. Because if don´t have much and life is so short, at least you can enjoy it.
5) Cubans are masters of surviving. With the low salaries and food so expensive (yesterday I paid 2EUR for 4 small tomatos) there´s always dinner at the table. As they say “the money comes, the money goes away”. How they do it? Sometimes selling stuff, sometimes taking advantage of naive tourists. But in the end of the day the money comes, as they say.
6) Cubans blain Bloqueo (US embargo) for everything. From the lack of coffee in the shops to their low salaries. Just everything.
7) Cubans don´t use much words like “thank you” “please”. The ust go to the shop and say “give me a bottle of water”. That´s it. Big cultural shock here…
What to do if you know Cubans? Love them as they are and join the flow 🙂
All the people who speaks Spanish come to Cuba with the ‘I’ll be fine” feeling. And then Cubans open their mouth, and you’re like “What the hell are you talking to me?!” . I’m not fair, they do make an effort when they speak to you but between Cubans…it’s just a different story.
Cuba was one of the first countries to receive slaves from Africa who worked here on coffee or sugare cane plantations. From Africa they brought their lenguage, beliefs and gods. Spanish and African cultures got mixed and coexisted for centuries creating a new- Afro Cuban mix which can be seen until today in culture, religion and yes, the lenguage as well.
How Spanish here is different from the original one? Cubans “forget” to pronunce all words, especially the end of it. They speak increibly fast and the vocabulary if full of words I have no idea where did they come from. Below you’ll find a small vocabulary for the curious ones travelling to Cuba.
Food in Cuba is rather…limited. In all the ways. In one hand there’s rationing system so things like rice, eggs, oil, beans are provided and may be bought for “libreta” which is a little book where it’s written how much of each product you have a right to buy. Since Cuba almost don’t import anything you can only get things that grow or are produced here.
The base of Cuban diet is rice and beans. You’ll see it on a Cuban table every single day. You buy it for pounds, it does not come closed in plastic bags as we know it so the first task before cook it is to separate the grains to make sure you cook only the good ones. If you have a big family it make take ages 😉
Cooking in Cuba is a challenge. Nobody has an oven and usually there’s only one stove per kitchen. Everybody uses rice cooker and pressure cooker and they look at me as I was an alien when I say I’m almost 30 and have never used one of these before. Because how can you even thinking of cooking without a rice cooker…” You don’t eat rice everyday?! So what do you eat?! ”
Cuba is an Tropical Island so it seems that the diet should be healthy and full of fruits and veggies. Nothing like that. There are a lot of fruits like bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple, guayaba, avocado and much more (I haven’t really learned all the names yet 😉 ) but not many Cubans actually eat them. The prices of the fresh product does not help. Thant’s true. It’s expensive to be veggie lover here.
So what do the Cubans eat beside of rice and benas? A lot of cooked and fried meat. Fried platains or root vegetable. Fried everything! And pizzas…yes. There are street stands with pizzas for 10 Cuban Peso so the lines are big. I’m not suprised that Cubans are getting bigger and bigger .
To help the diet, Cubans are big fans of soft drinks. They drink it alone, with ron or with meals. I wonder how long my body will stand this new way of eating…
I thought I lived in a latin country while living in Portugal.
I was so wrong 😉 When living in Lisbon I thought I was living in a laid back country. Portuguese are almost never on time and take life less seriously than Polish people for example. And then I moved to Cuba…
I mean, I´ve been here before. I knew what I was going into. But still so many things I´ll have to get use to.
There are no schedules in Cuba. I mean there are some but still not working. I took us 3 days to get me the family visa because the Immigration Office was always close even if it should´t be.
The buses run when they want to. Only the tourist company that transports the foreigners runs on time. The rest? It will come when it comes. So you sit and wait. And it does come sooner or later. Usually later.
The lines…well it’s a thing in communist countries. The only bad thing is that in Cuba they let only some people in, so if you wait to get into the bank let’s say, you have to wait outside in the heat for hours. The good thing is that the Cubans do respect lines. When you get into the place you need you just have to ask for el último (the last one) and pay attention to the line.
Cubans do everything but seriously everything on the street. From selling and buying goods, paiting things, doing manicure, doing haircuts, getting jobs, chatting, using Internet to party. I seriously hate going out with Fidel when we want to get something done because he literally stops every 2 minutes to talk to somebody. And this town has like 7.000 of people. Imagine Havana? I don’t 🙂
This town even so small is so vibrant that it feels like an average big city. There are people everywhere since 6 am to 2 am the next day. I do love it but sometimes I wish that the walk home from the center that takes 10 minutes…took 10 minutes 🙂
1 ) Habana Blues
I could watch this movie again and again. And then maybe…again. Habana Blues is a story of two friends and musicians Ruy and Toro. They get discovered by a Spanish record company and have a chance of leaving the island if only they change the lyrics and music to gain more audience. The movie is full of good Cuban music, old Havana and Cubans dealing with Cuban socialism and their families leaving for USA.
2) Strawberries and Chocolate
Havana, late 70´s. David, an average Cuban guy with Che Guevara photos at home meets Diego, a gay artist unhappy with the political situation in Cuba. Both come from two different worlds and somehow end up as best friends. This a beatiful movie about friendship with embematic sights such as La Guarida or Coppelia in the background.
3) 7 days in Havana
7 days. 7 stories. 7 directors. There´s a tourist experiencing a night in Havana. There´s a drunk director. There´s a young singer tempted by her agent. There´s a lady working two jobs in order to feed her family. There´s an old lady who claim to be visited by a godess Oshun. There´s a young lesbian and there´s and guy wandering the streets of Havana. All these stories in one movie, in one city. Locals and tourists. This movie doesn´t come close to the similar ones like “New York, I love you”, but Havana ain´t New York 😉