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Written by Kieran Proctor

Cubans – Musings Of A Longer Term Visitor

So, Cuba. Times, they are a changing. I’ve seen Cuba at its darkest point, during COVID. And now, again in ...

So, Cuba. Times, they are a changing. I’ve seen Cuba at its darkest point, during COVID. And now, again in 2023, and the differences are amazing.

The new foreign funded and crewed construction projects, operate 24/7. Even on Christmas and new years. Huge skyscrapers (40 floor +) are appearing in less than 6 months. The one below went from a couple of colonial houses to what it is now, in 7 months.

New Cuban Building In Vedado Cuba

Cuban People

Yet, what’s more interesting are the people. For the average tourist to Cuba, who is here at the extreme end for 3 weeks at most, they never really get to know the people of Cuba.

You need to think of Cuba as an island setting, for the TV show ‘Westworld’. Where the inhabitants are nothing more than bit players; sims in a game where rich tourists pay, to come and do whatever they please.

Spend months in Cuba and even the street hustlers drop their act. And you’ll hear them whisper to each other, as you walk past, ‘he’s Cuban now’.

What a tourist or short term visitor to Cuba sees and experiences, isn’t the real Cuba. And yet, they leave still believing the same old myths, that continue to circulate on the internet.

Myths like the one that Cubans live on less than $7 a day, is utter rubbish. Every Cuban has more than one side hustle. And those side hustles bring in far more cash, than their official jobs. Someone who looks poor in a tourist area, can be flush with $100USD bills, buying drinks in the ghetto at night.

Myths like the one that Cuba is dangerous. You’ll often hear hustlers tell tourists an area is dangerous, to keep them and their fat wallet close. I often walk around La Lisa or Diez de Octubre, in the tiny hours, without a care in the world. These are supposedly the most dangerous parts of Havana. And they closely resemble any footage you’ve seen of Damascus, in the days after it was liberated.

Get to know the people of Cuba and spend some significant time here and the bulls**t stops. And you can’t help but fall in love with them.

Cubans can shrug and laugh off what would crush the soul of the average westerner. And they can Macgyver anything together, with a little bubble gum and ductape. 

US Sanctions Will Never Stop Cubans

US sanctions will never beat Cuba. Want proof? I would bet that you’d never believe, there’s an underground Apple Store in Havana, that’s modeled on a real Apple Store. Replete with life size posters of Steve Jobs. And stocking every product currently available, on the Apple online store.

I’d also bet, you’d never believe that below the surface appearance of chaos, lies a level of organization and networks with a global reach? How do you think Cubans still get Western Union transfers abroad, or that the Apple Store in Havana gets its products? Thousands upon thousands of organized smurfs, moving in and out of Cuba every month.

What to you looks like chaos on the surface, has a level of organization and camaraderie that defies belief. The Cuban Government might be useless, but the older Cuban citizenry are strong. Cubans, if you spend significant time here in Cuba, it’s absolutely impossible not to admire the Cuban spirit and ingenuity!

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Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?

I’ve made my Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba available on this website. And I recommend you read it, before traveling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.

My Cuba travel guide will save you a lot of time and money on your next trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can arrive unprepared. Read the most complete Cuba Travel Guide.