While traveling I like to see the a country through the eyes of a local. Sometimes that can be a real challenge, for example in Cuba. The locals are depended of the money they make of tourists, they are really poor but they rather not show that. They will do anything to make you comfortable, also if that means they hardly have something to eat. That reminds me not to expect only to see a bright side, because most times there is a very dark side too.
Trying to see the real normal life, you’ve to avoid the touristy places as much as possible. That can be hard as this whole country makes a better living with the income out of tourists. You make a better change when hanging out with the locals. If they allow, you come a little closer step by step.
It starts with the double currency they have; the moneda national (pesos) and the convertible (CUC) which is 25 peso is worth 1 cuc. Cubans get their salary paid in peso; for the majority that is somewhere between 30-60 cuc per month. They can buy food such as rice and beans with peso, all the rest they have to buy with CUC and these things are very expensive for them. Four rolls of toilet paper for example cost 1 CUC, their (half) daily income! Most of other articles are priced the same as in western countries.
But for everything is a solution in Cuba, they are intelligent and super creative. They trade new clothes with tourists for anything they have, they repare every electronical device until it is really not worth it (that is very very long), they created a shared taxi system to travel in and between cities, hot showers with no running water are possible by boiling water and put it in a bucket… and so on.
It is all about good connections here, that’s how they help each other out. Buying fresh baked bread in the bakery at night or drinking the neighbors’ most biggest coconut ever are examples of that. But waking up in your boyfriends house and the first thing you see is your clothes washed by his mom and drying in the sun ~before 8 am~ is the highlight for me knowing this is Cuba.
Back in Havana you see homeless people looking in garbage bins for food…. Boxers wearing different shoes or shoes wrapped together with duck tape, a street full disabled people trying to sell sun glasses and so on. This country has many sad sides but if there is a place where people are strong, having courage and the will to survive while staying friendly and happy…. You must be talking about Cuba <3