Es Cuba, Loca
Replies: 26 - Last Post: Jul 15, 2012 8:11 PM Last Post By: bobmichaels
Jul 13, 2012 2:53 PM
Es Cuba, LocaHaving just come back from South America, I still reflect on my recent trip to Cuba. In fact, I flew over Cuba at night heading back to Miami. Did you know you can see the Florida Keys, and Cuba from the air at night?
Anyway, I am still amazed that a place like Cuba still exists in the world. I have been almost everywhere in the world, and I have never been to place like Cuba. It really is 2 different worlds sitting side by side (tourist=king and local=peasant). I am also amazed that many legal tourists go to Cuba to drink, beach, dance and be merry without looking to deep into what really is going on there. I didn't go to Varadero, and personally would never go to a place like that in the US or any other part of the world. It's just not my cup of tea.
I really feel bad for the people that live there. As part of my experience traveling there, I really wanted to get a feel for what people think. The general consensus is that many people there are desperate to get out. The uncertainty of what may happen if things do change also makes many people uncomfortable. I can see Cuba following in Russia's footsteps, having a surge in crime, mafia and other criminal elements. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't gone to Cuba, as I learned things I might not wanted to have known.
Jul 13, 2012 3:55 PM
1skysyd: do not feel so bad for the Cuban people. Things are different all over the world. Everyone, including ourselves, wishes we could have the benefits of others without giving up any of the benefits we enjoy.
Keep in mind that no Cubans worry about:
their retirement assets going down in value
escalating medical insurance costs
medical costs in any form
owing more on their home mortgage than their home is worth
credit card debt, or any form of debt, becoming overbearing
real estate or other taxes
owing more than withheld for income taxes
alimony or child support payments
maintaining the appearance of an economic status equal to their peers
where their next sexual partner will come from
and the list can go on and on
We have things they do not. They have things we do not. Because we have more economic resources than Cubans, some have become very good at emphasizing that we need to distribute part of that to then. In a one-on-one with a Cuban and a tourist, that equates to language that indirectly says "I am poor, you have money, give me some of it"
Jul 13, 2012 5:32 PM
2WOW, only 7 days in Cuba, and all of it in Havana staying only at either the Hotel Nacional or the Parque Central. Obviously there is much you have missed about living in Cuba.
You seem to equate that because they don't have the same amount of money a "tourist" has, they are peasants. Sorry, but that's quite insulting a statement IMHO. Money doesn't equate to happiness, nor quality of life. There are many many aspects of Cuban life where quite frankly, they easily surpass American (the USA) and dare I also say Canadian life.
From your other thread about your trip to Cuba.......
I spent the entire time in Havana, with a short excursion to Hemingway Casa for a few hours. At first, I thought maybe i should really get out of Havana and see something else but I am glad I didn't. A few other tourists recommended Varadero, but the more I looked into that, "Why the hell would I want to go to an all inclusive populated by mostly annoying Canadians, and Europeans with sandals and socks. Cuba, was the first place I actually enjoyed bumping into the occasional "Yuma" as they tended to be more sophisticated than the Canadians and Euros, I saw all over town. Cubans, love Americans and of course our money too.
After reading that whole other thread prior to replying here, I won't waste any time on someone so condescending to other nationalities and frankly, agree fully with DonTomas's conclusions at the end of that thread.
Makes me wonder why you bothered to start another similar thread?
Jul 13, 2012 6:00 PM
3I am also amazed that many legal tourists go to Cuba to drink, beach, dance and be merry without looking to deep into what really is going on there
I think that much of what you said is true but the idea that you have truly "looked deep" into what is going on there is not.
Both Bob and Steve eloquently suggest that Cuba is not so easily figured out as you seem to think it is.
For me, Cuba's major failure is to provide hope for its citizens. Guaranteed poverty, however secure, can never be the same as freedom of opportunity.
Jul 13, 2012 6:39 PM
4since you have traveled most of the world..you probally would of noticed that the problem is NOT unique to cuba...I find that most developing nations that depend on tourism for hard currency tend to treat tourist better than their own people. As a matter of fact I think Cuba isnt that bad.I have been to other nations where Children are begging and selling stuff at all hours,where you cant walk a block without being offered drugs/prostitutes (sometimes children) where its so the streets are so unsafe you wouldnt even consider walking anywhere or even leaving your resort...and while cuba aint exactly a perfect place...its not as bad as youre trying to make it seem
Jul 13, 2012 6:49 PM
5Sorry but you don't get my message. Yes, I stayed in a nice hotel, sheltered away but in reality I was out and about amongst the people. I became friends with a few people and really got to know their situations with a short 7 days. I am not going to get into too much detail but lets put it this way, I had several sleepless nights worrying about some new friends that were arrested and other strange incidents that occurred. I didn't go to Cuba to lay around in luxury, I chose those 2 hotels for safety, having never been to Cuba. If I go again, i will stay in private accomodations. I found Cuba to be a strange paradox. I am not feeling bad for Cubans, just for the sake of feeling bad, nor am I comparing them to Americans or any other group. My point might not have been clear. In fact, I had several in depth conversations with a new friend, trying to convince him that his life is not s*** and that he should research what life is like in Haiti and other impoverished islands. We even had conversations about poverty in places like the US and other industrialized nations. I shared my experiences of being without work and unable to afford things at times in my life.
Jul 13, 2012 6:53 PM
6Yes, I have traveled the world. Rich countries and poor. Cuba is very different and unique. People are desperate, maybe not for food or health care (which btw is s*** for Cubans) or a decent education. What other country in the world provides a great post grad education to its citizens and then leaves them flat without being able to pursue economic freedom? All of us that have traveled to Cuba know that employees in the tourist industry and musicians can make a decent living. However, every single person I met struggled to make ends meet, and work in professional jobs. I don't pity Cubans at all. In fact, I have respect for most of them. I just left the island feeling really sad.
Jul 13, 2012 7:04 PM
Jul 13, 2012 7:12 PM
Jul 13, 2012 7:37 PM
I became friends with a few people and really got to know their situations with a short 7 days
I'll believe that you are starting to understand Cuba the day you become self-aware of how silly your first statement really is.
I can assure you (after 15 years of Cuba travel, with likely over 10-12 months of cumulative time) that you will one day learn the difference between "frens", "socios", and true "amigo/amigas". Ironically, it is the very nature of their society (politics) that prevent you from even being trusted as a true friend until you've been there multiple times and stayed with the same people over and over again, each trip learning each other a bit better and building trust over time.
And by the way, none of my friends have ever been arrested or in trouble with the police. Have you ever considered that your quickie "frens" might be quite well known to police because they prey on new tourists to Cuba who are either gullible or nieve about how Cuba works? Without doubt, there is a segment of Cubans in Havana who are very smart and expert at parroting back to nieve tourist exactly what they want to hear, with the end goal of separating the tourist from his/her money. Not every Jinetero or Jinetera is wearing spandex you know.
Jul 13, 2012 7:38 PM
10OP, your trip report was nice until you started giving your opinions. A touch naive I think. Even Cubans don't understand Cuba.
Jul 13, 2012 7:43 PM
Jul 13, 2012 7:55 PM
12Smack, smack, smack, SMACK . . . You spent 7 whole days in Cuba and you feel sorry for Cubans. Next time try China.
Jul 13, 2012 8:02 PM
Jul 13, 2012 8:33 PM
14#11... Cubans do understand Cuba... it's just that they won't explain it to a foreigner because it may burst your bubble and it would take too long to explain with any clarity.and it would be colored anyway since it would be geared to you parting with some of your cash... jeje
I am going to stick my neck out and say I think I understand 80%. Maybe naive since I have less than a handful of real friends in Cuba, other than direct family, which I trust completely, btw, other than my BIL who has his "problems" and I hear their concerns, their hopes and their struggles. .
I have spent well in excess of 2 years in Cuba, so it's not without some experience. Making true friends in Cuba is no facil. It's actually no different where you live. One's economic status tends to filter your friends unless you can ignore that and rise or lower yourself (not meant to be negative) to their level. That means, don't throw money around being the rich yuma, in Cuba. Money will color your relationships.
I count 2 ex Ministers, some of their offspring, un amigo in Matanzas that lives in a 1 room shack, a retired, well spoken philosopher Cubano in Havana and a moreno outside of Havana that I consider mi hermano. Oh, a group of hustlers outside of Partagas that do not hustle me and invite me for some ron everytime I am in Havana and in the neighborhood, even though they will still try to sell me a box of fake cigars but without any real pressure....jeje
None of this would even be remotely possible if you don't speak and/or understand Spanish and some of the local slang.
The one thing that I have learned is that Cuban society is really screwed up.
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