If you’ve never seen the television show Westworld I would suggest watching it before travelling to Cuba. Cuba is the real life Westworld.
When viewed through the lens of Westworld Cuba isn’t your typical tourist destination. Cuba is like a country sized amusement park. A place intended for rich vacationers to go and live out their fantasies.
And no matter how illicit those fantasies may be, there are no consequences for those rich vacationers in Cuba. It’s like stepping into another world where every ‘local’ is a bit player, a sim or a non-player character (NPC) in a large game intended for tourists.
The Amusement Park That Is Cuba
Are The Cubans You Meet In Cuba ‘Authentic’?
This is the first thing that irks me about Cuba. Every tourist wants an ‘authentic’ Cuban experience. Every tourist visiting Cuba wants ‘authentic’ food tours, ‘authentic’ meals in Cuban homes, ‘authentic’ destinations to visit and everything else where some entrepreneurial Cuban can add the word ‘authentic’.
Yet what these tourists see and experience in Cuba is the furtherest thing from ‘authentic’. An ‘authentic’ Cuban experience involves lines, shortages, disrepair, scams, rampant corruption, worthless slogans and propaganda.
Any tourist staying in a casa particular (Airbnb) or hotel will never have an ‘authentic’ experience in Cuba. An ‘authentic’ Cuban experience is not what they’re paying for when they buy an ‘authentic’ Cuban experience.
If they were to buy an ‘authentic’ Cuban experience, and I mean a truly ‘authentic’ experience, would they want to know that they may be eating dog meat disguised as beef and would they want to clean raw sewage from the kitchen for hours following the meal?
I strongly doubt any tourist would want the ‘authentic’ Cuban experience.
Is It Possible To Meet Real Cubans In Cuba?
The answer to this question is that it depends. It depends on your Cuban accommodation choices and for how long you’ll be staying in Cuba.
If you’re one of those people who thinks Cuba is full of mail order brides and you’ll come to Cuba and find the love of your life, you’re going to get fleeced in Cuba. Every Cuban will treat you like a cash machine that just keeps on giving out free money.
That is until you know them. But that won’t happen until you’ve been in Cuba long enough for them to consider you a quasi-local. And that takes several months. Even then they’ll still occasionally try to get money from you or have you support their lifestyle.
Cuba doesn’t just survive on the kindness of strangers, it prays on kindness and naiveté.
What Can’t I Do In Cuba?
If you have enough money the answer to this question is nothing. There are no limits to what you can do in Cuba. The country survives on tourism and tourists are like a protected species. Particularly if they’re prepared to pay.
Every street hustler will quickly identify you as a tourist. And they will try to run a scam on you or if that fails, they’ll try to sell you cocaine, marijuana or hookers.
Any woman you meet on Tinder in Cuba or woman you meet in a bar in Cuba is likely after you for money. They’re often Jinetera’s or semi-pro prostitutes.
The male equivalent, the Jinetero or street hustlers are scum. They just spend their days chasing tourists to sell drugs, run money exchange scams or try to pimp out their wives, girlfriends and sisters.
And when I say that Cuba is like the real life equivalent of Westworld, this type of behaviour is what I’m referring to. Every single local will give you whatever you want or do whatever you want for a price. If you’re prepared to pay then every Cuban is like a bit player or sim in a video game.
You’ll never meet an ‘authentic’ Cuban or have an ‘authentic’ Cuban experience while the locals you interact with view you as a tourist. They’ll just keep trying to shake you down for money or sell you whatever you want.
Even if what you want is illegal the locals are not scared of the police. Because the police are just another sim in the game. 200 CUP ($1.21USD) and the police can be bought.
Cuba is the real life Westworld. There are no limits and the locals are all bit actors in the worlds largest amusement park. A park designed for wealthy foreign tourists.
Will Cuba Ever Change?
Cuba will likely never change. The will to change Cuba is completely absent from the general population. Cuba doesn’t innovate but, as another blog says, it ‘klepto-vates’.
Effectively the vast majority of Cubans in Cuba are just after as much money as they can get from whoever they can get it from. Even if they need to scam it (most of the time).
But they don’t even come up with new scams and if you’ve travelled before you’ll see the scams coming from a country mile. And when they do successfully get money from a tourist the bulk of them don’t even use that money for useful purposes.
I’ve watched on as a chap in Old Havana (Habana Vieja) dressed in the latest Nike everything stripped down to shower with a hose in the street. I’ve watched on as street hookers spent the little money they got patrolling the street that night on useless ‘luxury’ items the following day.
The first guy could have forgone the Nike and bought regular clothes. Using the difference to fix his bathroom. The ladies of the night could have used their illicit gains to buy assets and get real careers.
But instead they all choose to spend their money on useless junk. And they just assume another tourist will come along. For most Cuban’s their priorities are completely out of kilter. Which is slightly less surprising when you understand the farce of Cuban economics.
It’s as if they’re in the amusement park but have either excepted their part in the game or haven’t yet realised they’re nothing but a bit player. A random sim that wealthy foreign tourists merely use and forget.
Cubans are the sims and non-player characters (NPCs) of Cuba’s real life Westworld.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made a Cuba Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQ) available on this website. And I would strongly advise you to read it before travelling to Cuba.
My Cuba FAQ page will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Cuba FAQ Page here.