Those Faithful Cubans

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Back in the 1850s, when everyone from priests to sugar barons were fighting for their piece of the pie (and their piece of mulatta ass, let’s be frank), this island was known as “la siempre fidelísima Isla de Cuba.” The forever faithful island of Cuba.

As a yuma married to a Cuban for going on nine years now, I can tell you this fidelity question has nagged me long and hard. And I’ve finally reached the tipping point. It took some time, though.

I remember when I was a tenderfoot on these shores – all bright-eyed and basking like a well-fed turtle, not bothered by termites in my bed or even reggaeton (see note 1) – and how much I still had to learn. On one of those fine sunny days way back when, I was seaside with some friends (a pair of ex-pat Europeans who bailed long ago) having a few cold drinks and taking the ocean air.

‘But don’t you wonder where he was?’ my friend asked. She’s one of those naturally beautiful, smart women who always seems to get what she wants even when she’s not entirely sure what that is.

‘Nah.’ I said. ‘I trust him implicitly.’ Did I really just say that? More to the point, do I really believe it? Me, who has only trusted implicitly five people my whole life, four of whom share my last name? It slipped out, but it was true. At least I wanted to think it was true.

The distinguished gent across from me, a rich well-traveled Turk who was living in Cuba on a lark, raised his eyebrow and his glass. ‘I wouldn’t trust anyone here implicitly, querida,’ he said sipping his Bucanero.
_____

It was my first summer here – 2002. I’d never even seen a spit-roasted pig or the inside of a hospital (see note 2) and my husband and I were spending August camping around the island. I was blissfully unaware of the depth of my ignorance about Cuba – had I known then what I know now and I had known how confused I’d still be all these years later, I may have run away and quit before my Cuban odyssey ever really started.

The car packed high with tent and stove, kitchen kit and several gallons of water, we went way off the beaten path. Making our way across the country we’d just pick a place on the map and go. This is how we found ourselves kicking up dirt on a deserted road heading towards Punta Covarrubias in god forsaken Las Tunas (see note 3). We saw nothing for miles – no birds stirred the air, nary a lizard snuck out his tongue. Not one car or person appeared in the 90 minutes we were on that rutted road. Finally the sea grew into view and with it came gales of laughter.

When we pulled up between pines as thin as a Cuban campesino, we saw a panel truck and a party in full swing. The beach and lone hotel were deserted – closed for the season or some other confounding Cuban reason – but these folks had come to let their hair down and hot dog!, roast a pig.

My husband busted out a bottle of rum and we took turns rotating the pig. Dominos materialized of course. We got to know our hosts in that way Cubans have of making fast friends. They were lovely people, country folk who worked hard and had the calluses to prove it. With the sun dipping low, we swapped addresses (none of us had phones in our homes) and I promised to send Eliades the photos we’d taken.

“On no! Don’t send them to me. My wife will kill me if she finds out!”

And here I’d thought the buxom brunette with the sunburned collarbone he’d been fondling all day was his wife. Silly me.
_____

Not long thereafter, I was on the 100 bus going to a meeting. It was one of those oppressive Havana days when tempers are short, the sun’s rays are long and you’re sweating as soon as you step from the shower. In sum, a typical July day in these parts. The 100 bus, I should mention, ‘tiene sus cosas‘ as we say here – it has it’s thing going on.

This bus runs through Marianao – a very working class, very black neighborhood run thick with bling and babalawos – from where it descends to the seashore in Miramar. In summer, this bus is an asses to elbows, hips to groin crush of humanity desperate to get to the “beach” (no sand, just a nasty species of shoreline rock known as diente de perro). At these times, boys ride the 100 shirtless and the girls are more scandalously clad than usual (if that’s possible). It’s so crowded daredevils hang from the windows, hitching a ride from the outside.

On this day, I was all up in it inside the bus. There was no choice but to squash up against the strangers squeezing in around me. I tried to angle away from any erogenous zones – theirs and mine. As we crossed Calle 51, the crowd crushed in tighter and I felt a warm rush of air on my face.

“Come to the beach with me baby,” a young, chiseled guy chuffed in my ear. I turned away, making sure to steer clear of his bulge.

“I don’t think my husband would approve,” I snapped.

“You’re married? So what?” the kid responded, pressing in tighter against me.
_____

Some years ago, I was let in on a secret. It wasn’t really a secret (a concept which is completely foreign to most Cubans) but rather one of those things that people know about but no one mentions: the two family phenomenon. I had drawn breath 32 years before I’d ever known that there were men who keep two families. Not Big Love style, but two secret families – one on one side of town, the younger on the other.

I have one friend, the poor soul, who discovered the ignoble injustice as her dearly beloved lay on his deathbed. On that day, she had brought him his breakfast and coffee just like every day since he had been hospitalized. She kissed him goodbye and turned to leave just as a second woman came in, breakfast and coffee thermos in hand, trailing two kids. The Other Wife with The Other Children who had no idea they had a half-brother and -sister on the other side of town. The bastard died not long thereafter. My friend and I don’t talk about it.

The same thing befell another friend, Josue. As an adult, he discovered his father had kept another family secreted away, also with kids – two brothers Josue spent a whole life not knowing.

I wonder about men who are so weak and insecure they need two women, two sets of kids, two lives. I imagine it must be extraordinarily stressful and hard to keep straight. I wonder how they look themselves in the mirror.
_____

Don’t believe for a second it’s only the men. Rosario is a perky (natural) blond with the hips of a mulatta and the ass of a negress. Her husband Julian is not only hot, he’s a talented, super successful musician to boot. They have a beautiful son together. One morning Julian woke up to an empty house. Turns out Rosario had married a Mexican on the side to leave the country and took the boy with her. She ditched the Mexican as soon as possible of course; she and the boy now live in Miami.

And what I’ve seen during my work abroad, covering the Cuban medical missions? Por favor. These folks serving two years in godforsaken places are like sailors on shore leave the way they hook up with one another. And the longer and harder the posting, like Haiti or Pakistan? Let’s just say it’s far from ‘la siempre fidelísima Isla de Cuba.’

For someone like me, faithful as a damn dog, this is all pretty disturbing. What does ‘faithful’ mean here, I wonder? Does it even translate? Does giving head count as cheating? Getting it? How about a mercy fuck? I’m not sure I want to know. What I do know, now that I’ve learned a little about Cuba, is that I wouldn’t necessarily say implicitly…

Notes
1. For the record, I have always been bothered by cold water showers and turds at the beach.

2. Since then I’ve been regularly employed as a journalist (take that OFAC!) by MEDICC Review which has thrust me inside all sorts of Cuban hospitals – from pediatric to post-disaster.

3. Very near here is one of the points of highest illegal immigration to the United States in all of Cuba. So common and scheduled are the super fast speed boats that pick up Cubans to zip them across the Straits to Florida they’re called ‘Yutongs’ – our equivalent of a Greyhound.

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176 Comments

Filed under Americans in cuba, camping, Cuban customs, Cuban phrases, Living Abroad, off-the-beaten track, Relationships

176 responses to “Those Faithful Cubans

  1. I really enjoyed this post. Since living in Caracas, I’ve come to realize that the US may be one of the last societies to expect fidelity in marriages (and cheating STILL happens!). For the most part, it is only accepted with men, but studies have shown that women cheat just as much. I’m still perplexed by this realization and haven’t figured out where it fits for me – I just celebrated 9 years of marriage, too.

    • Thanks! And congratulations on 9 years…no es fácil.
      But your comment has me thinking: are you married to a Venezuelan or North American? Wondering how much context influences fidelity?

  2. John Abbotsford

    I just phoned my Cubana to check on where she is and what she is doing.
    She said that she is in her office working – but now you have given me doubts. LOL!

  3. John Abbotsford

    Je je je je!
    Ah you mean that her paychecks go regularly into our joint account could be an elaborate subterfuge?

  4. yumacita

    …or what her job is ? 🙂

    Seriously though. The last time I was in Havana I was renting a room (with my Cuban boyfriend) from an older couple who had a teenage son. One night the woman’s husband was out and I asked her where he was and she replied that he was out with his “novia”. I asked her to repeat it because I was still learning basic Spanish and wanted to be sure I heard correctly. Apparently she knew all about this and was 100% ok with it. She then goes on to tell me that all Cuban men have girlfriends on the side and that her son (14 or 15) has 3 different girlfriends ! And that they all know about each other.

    Being from San Francisco I appreciate open relationships, particularly when everyone involved is being honest with each other. But obviously you can’t always count on honesty or fidelity.

    When my boyfriend came home that night from hanging out with his band…I asked him how “band practice” was (sarcastically). He told me (equally sarcastically) “oh it was great…there were three beautiful mulattas there…we had a wonderful time”

    hmmmm…I guess its smart to be a little doubtful 🙂

    • my point exactly!! thanks for making it nice and succinctly Yumacita.

      The comment from the ‘lady of the house’ – that all cuban men have girlfriends (or boyfriends, but that’s another post!) is really hard to hear all the time when you’re married to a cuban guy and let me tell you, I hear it all the time. There ARE mold breakers I know, but sometimes it’s hard to weed out….also, this is kind of a scary construct when you couple it with condom use practices/percentages here.

    • Cay

      I was looking to rent a room in Cuba when I go there .. do you rmbr where you rented? Any advice ? Loved your story =) I too am with a cuban and I would hate to find out he is anything like the horrid cubans tht have multi relations.

  5. Great post, Conner. A beautiful, intelligent woman like you shouldn’t have to worry about these things, imho. But I know this phenomena is very common here in Mexico too. Seems to me to be a cultural phenomena started when men were so much more in charge and society was so much more restrictive to both sexes. Now its a holdover that men perpetuate because its a helluva lot easier than intimacy and honesty. (sigh) Keep writing… we love reading it!

    • Aw shucks. thanks. Trying not to worry too much (causes wrinkles and indigestion, dontchaknow?). Writing helps keep me off the ledge – will take your advice and keep at it!

      Funny, here in Cuba it’s men AND women just cheatin’ all over the place. As another commenter points out – lots of people are A-OK with it. but for my money, there are very few guys who can roll with a beautiful, intelligent woman like me (and you by the by!!) and I ain’t gonna share with the unworthy!

  6. Wendi

    Not unlike our very own San Francisco oil tycoon (and my ex-wife’s boss), Gordon Getty, who had a whole second family in Los Angeles for the better part of two decades (gf/three daughters) unbeknownst to his wife (and the mother of his four sons).

    • OK hold on. Not sure which is more appalling to me – that I haven’t seen you in so long that you have an EX wife or that someone as visible as this could get away with the 2 family thang (oh riiiiiight. he’s filthy rich which makes anything possible right? wrong. can’t buy me love and all that). Te extrano chica!!! thanks for reading and writing in and maybe we can reunite in 2011?!

  7. What an interesting phenomenon! I’m also very familiar/comfortable with open relationships, but that’s such a different bag of worms than infidelity. I just can’t get over the whole “having two separate households” thing… how do people do that without blowing their cover? It seems like such an intense and complicated form of deceit that would take a huge amount of effort. I’ve also been watching Big Love lately, though, so maybe that’s influencing me a bit. 🙂

    • Great point Christy – open relationship isn’t the same as infidelity. have to have a think on that one.

      wild the two family thing eh? It sounds so…..exhausting. emotionally, physically, spiritually and of course, financially. See comment about the Getty bastard. Happens all over it seems!

  8. Andrea Lee

    Conner – having just finished Beautiful Maria of my Soul, it is so much clearer to me now, this whole fidelity issue, Cuban/Cubana love, musicos and their desperate, undying love. NOT. Having lived on the African continent, I can tell you that there is no less of an issue there, though it is so much harder for the women to GET anywhere where they might meet men. The #1 method of passing AIDS there is from men who work routes (like truck drivers) or away from home (like miners), who have multiple girlfriends (and usually kids to go w/them), and who bring themselves back home with HIV and no possibility for treatment, and sharing all that with their wives. It’s terrible sad. The betrayal is almost the little piece, in that picture, but not for the woman who has been broken-hearted.

    • Hiya and thanks for posting. I didn’t even touch the AIDS/STIs issue and how it collides with infidelity which is something Im sort of an expert in (I wrote an in-depth report for Oxfam on HIV & AIDS in Cuba and have written on it extensively in MEDICC Review.)

      It so, but so so so pisses me off. Married men having (unprotected) sex with other men is one of the major causes of HIV infection for Cuban women. Think about the homophobia/machismo/mysogyny that this construct entails. sickening. Truck drivers here are also active spreaders of HIV. Would be interested in seeing what the Africa you know is like….

  9. XXXX

    (comment removed per original poster’s request)

    • I am so very sorry you’re going through this. what a way to start 2011. I can parse your whole message, but its late, my husband is on my nerves and we still have to whip up dinner so I’ll just say this for now: I have never, ever heard a cuban call an ex a novio/a. Another troubling piece: he’s a touring musician + he’s Cuban. Not a typical equation equalling fidelity.

      But maybe, just maybe we’re all simply a pack of paranoid psycho bitches and he really doesn’t have anyone back in Cuba.

      (go for option C – if you can. I wish I could take my own advice!)

      hang in there!

      Any readers out there want to chime in and help this reader out w/ some words o wisdom?

  10. XXXX

    Thank you for your words. Yes, I have decided to try option C as well, basically for my sanity.

    • Soca

      Hey!
      How did option C work out for you?

      I hope you had the strength to follow through and that it was much easier than you thought it would be.

  11. Caney

    So true, so true…. (pst! no double “s” in Spanish 😉 )

  12. galia

    All Cuban musicians cheat. More than 90% of Cuban men cheat at least once. I dumped my first husband of 7 years for cheating on me (and boy, he was not handsome). My second husband is fine. However, by saying that I must mention that we do not live in Cuba anymore for the last 17 years. But I wouldn’t say that I am 100% sure of this. It must be in their blood. Have you seen a very good film that might cheer you up “Miss Caribe” with Ana Belen? (1988) It’s great and funny and blames the hot climate for cheating men.

  13. so happy to find your blog–so interesting! can’t wait to read more

  14. alsdally

    Excellent article. I just discovered your blog and truly enjoy what I’ve read so far. I just returned from a week in Cuba (alas, my work and family prevent me from taking more time!) and will be back in March. I appreciate the insights that you offer from the “gringo” perspective but living the life full time.

  15. Teri

    Wow, what to say? Just discovered this very interesting blog and just had to comment. Let me say right up front that I’m a Cuban American, living in Miami, whose family was active in the counter revolution, knew Fidel personally since his days at Belen Jesuit, but that’s neither here nor there…just thought that as a woman I’ve been cheated on by my Cuban American ex-husband, so I’m not necessarily disagreeing that there ARE cheaters but this post seems a bit a sweeping generalization. Not saying it ain’t so, just saying this seemed a bit much. I’ve known lots of Cuban American men with second families on the side, but I’ve also been fortunate to know many, many devoted family men (and women) who never gave a second glance at another person. Just sayin’ . This seemed a little patronizing. Sure you didn’t mean it like that but that was my take.

    • Hola Teri and thanks for writing in. Of course you’re right. This is a generalization. That’s what stereotypes are and what Im writing about is a steroetype. And looking at the comments Ive received, Id say the stereotype isnt far off.

      This is such a a complex issue and you bring up yet another element: the emigrant. You speak of Cuban Americans, I speak of Cubans on the island. Is there a difference? Does cultural baggage/history/outlook/behavior change in a host country? As someone who lives in a foreign culture, Id venture to say my NY baggage/history/outlook/behavior has definitely changed since Ive lived here.

      Patronizing, now that is something else. I hate it when people are patronizing and don’t want to be that way myself. I’ll have to re-read the post (Ive been swamped, writing all kinds of crazy stuff from HIV in Cuba to what dish is good at La Union Francaise so Im a bit foggy on post details) with your opinion in mind.

    • Bedazzled thinker

      Hey Teri,

      The thing is : I Opened Google and typed: ” cheating cuban men”
      and the first link was this website. So I believe most of the people here feel like maybe they are being cheated. People who do not feel that way, husbands make them feel good. These people do not type ‘ cheatin cuban men” in Google, hence do not leave comments here.
      Do I make sense or maybe it is a little too late in the day( Canada, 2 a.m.) for me to make sense?

      I am dating a Cuban programmer and not 100% if he is cheating, but I Studied Myerrs Briggs personalities and according to them, there are some personalities of people for who it is harder to cheat. For example, for very neat, organized and clean people –the idea of cheating is very dirty, not organized, etc….( well, Myerrs Briigs explains it)… For others it is more easier naturally.

      The other articles on the internet saying that Cubans cheat because they have less things to distract them from their personal relationships: travel, hobbies, entertainment, career ( expecting higher salary..etc.). When the whol focus of your life is on your personal relationship, it is inevitable to get fixated on bad things from time to time. So naturally for some people to seek their fullfilment on the side. According to some psychologists hapiness consists of such thing as stability ( you have a job a husband), variety ( you are pleasantly surprised, you travel for example), self development, contribution to society, love and intimacy. So whenever somebody is cheating he is not receiving something from the partner, and in Cuba maybe the whole atmospere now ( it is like ” perestroika” in Soviet Union) does not fulfil those essential needs. The cheating was on the rise during the collaps of Soviet union as well because people just were unhappy, confused…so they seek solution in cheating ( variety, learning new from new partner, excitement from fresh love)…….

      • Some interesting observations here Bedazzler, the majority of which I don’t agree with. I dont have the time or inclination to pop psychologize much further on the issue (and certainly not to the extent of referencing Myers Briggs), but would like to clarify a couple of points you make.

        1. “When the whol focus of your life is on your personal relationship” – I don’t know if you have been to Cuba, but one of the things that becomes obvious on even a short visit is that “the whole focus” of 99% of the population is: what will my family and I eat today? Followed closely by: how will I get money to fix the roof/pay the phone/buy a new bicycle tire? Career advancement is way up there in the mix too – whether you’re a biotech researcher or a pizza slinger in the zillion of new private pizza joints here.

        2. There are many, many other ways people all over the world, and here too, focus on career besides “higher salary”, though that is obviously a goal.

        3. What’s happening now in Cuba isn’t like perestroika – it doesn’t have the political component.

        I do agree with you that variety is the spice of life, love life or not, and most Cubans are terribly bored (and anxious, which is why you have a rising incidence of pill popping and abuse).

        You say you’re dating a computer programmer, but I take it from your comments that you are also Cuban? Just wondering.

      • Teri

        Hi bedazzled thinker, just getting to your response over a year later. I only have my own personal experience to go by so….whatever. I can tell you that my ex was a very rigid, uptight, kinda anal Cuban man ( born in Cuba and emigrated to Miami at age 8) was the one person who cheated on me and it was pretty devastating as due to his being so uptight and sexually rigid ( and hyper religious) I just didn’t see it coming. Now my second husband, who fits all the stereotypes, very good looking, a musician ( his conga playing makes you melt) and an artist as well, has never cheated on me and I trust him implicitly! Go figure. He’s very passionate, jealous but when we met both of us had come out of previous relationships with a lot of heartache. He had sown a LOT of wild oats by the time I met him, and was ready to settle down. We’ve been together 15 years and aren’t slowing down. Funny thing is that I would never have married my first husband if I’d met my current one first, but who knows? Maybe God knew what he was doing making us meet in our 40’s 🙂

      • Hola! Wow, two success stories in 2 days; must be something in the air. Congratulations.

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  17. Bedazzled Thinker

    Thanks for the reply,

    I am just juggling ideas, no confident opinion, just discussion

    1. No, I am not Cuban. I just lived through this period in Soviet Union.
    Well, they already passed that special period;-) where all they eat and we ate in Soviet Union were chicken feet;-))) for about 1 year. Right now it is for them to decide how proceed ( disastrous Soviet style, nice and strict Chinese style) or stay socialist. Raoul is militarizing every institution but allowed small businesses. So it is closer to Chinese style ( better for them)

    2. I have lived in Cuba for 4 months in different parts and visiting every month or two.
    Yes, by career I did not mean knowledge. In socialist Russia everybody was going for a PHD and everybody was extremely well rounded since education in all forms, theaters and piano classes were free or almost free.

    3. Yes, you are right. They do not focus on personal life.. but then I do not know how to explain that, maybe you can help My boyfriend always tells me about lack of motivation to progress at work, to learn anything at work . since work is not paid and equipment is not supplied ( he does not have a computer).
    He tells me that is how all of his friends end up sitting home with their unemployed wives driving each other crazy;-) with no food. That is what I call concentration on personal relationships. But you will probably correct me since English is not my first language. The pressure at home is bad since all those things we are getting ( some of us) from our passionate hobbies and careers, they have less motivation or possibilities to get. However, I met some passionate Cuban painters extremely faithful and extremely dedicated to their passion. One of the ingredients of faithfulness is having a passion in life besides your partner.

    3. I am reading a book about Canadian Identity which says : Canadians are polite, direct, dry and not friendly. The stereotype of the Latin american people is they are really touchy, emotional, jealous, indirect.
    I am talking about stereotypes ( based on books that I read). My company ( large american bank) made me do a test which revealed that I am a very indirect person and my ideal place of work is a Spanish-speaking country.
    I understand cubans alot when they lie in order not to hurt, cheat when they can not make a decision to leave. ( I am talking about stereotypes of course). So my other point is —-> Cheating is inability to be direct about problems, to confront the problems directly and discuss them…i think..correct me…
    In the bank that I work workers of spanish background always drive away from confrontation during the meetings from the chinese and canadian bosses that use direct communication style.
    All the westernized books speak that ” couples should engage in direct communication and discuss issues”. Easier said than done. What if you are extremely sensitive to conflict person?” ( well, I am and lots of Cubans I met would just lie ( so fast) in order to avoid direct arguing or conflict. haha. They all have a hard time saying no ( people pleasures. I am too).

    Well, I am just digging away from the main reason —>all the economic problems –>that of course keep the couples that stopped loving each other together ( no separate real estate). But then: is it really cheating when deep down you know that you just living together since you can not move?

    My boyfriend jokes that “a cuban would cheat but would still at the end die by the feet of his wife”;-)))..

  18. Ottawatourist

    Connergo, love your post. I have been to Cuba 7 times now and your post has opened up my view. Being Canadian, I cannot understand the lies, cheating that goes on there. I witnessed it at the resort I was staying at when the bartender closed up the bar and had one of the waitresses meet him inside for a little love. Both were married. My cuban friend didn’t bat an eye at this. I was shocked, as if this was a regular part of life for them. Having two families is the norm there. Two of the men that I spoke to on the resort had children from two different women. And the other women knew about it but stayed by their man. I guess it’s difficult for single mothers to get by in Cuba. I know it was difficult for me as a single mother here in Canada and I had a good job and good parents to help me.
    Thanks for this blog, it’s great to read a women’s perspective living in cuba

    • Hi there

      Single mothers are the majority in Cuba and they seem to have it pretty good (compared to in NY, where I grew up, daughter of a single mother of 4 kids) – free health and education, home ownership (in the Cuba sense), food subsidies – Im sure you know the system there. Kids by different fathers is very common in Cuba – I have no problem with that. What gets my goat is when they hide an entire family from another and split their time – surreptitiously – between the two.

      Thanks for the props! helps me keep writing.

  19. Cindy

    “the hips of a mulatta”….as opposed to what? If she’s mulatta, she either has hips (like/unlike white women) or not (like/unlike black women). Learn to write.

    • hi Cindy. Haven’t seen you around here before. Of all the pages and pages of posts, this is what you choose to parse and suggest I “learn to write?”

      Granted, still learning (every day!), still writing (always), but I’ll let the thousands of books Ive sold, hundreds of articles I’ve written, and posts here that hold the opposite opinion to yours speak for themselves.

  20. Wow! Love your description of the 100 Bus … the entire essay, actually, is spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

  21. El Cubanito

    Hi Connerg,

    EL Cubanito from Lonelyplanet here. Connerg, I just read this post and it brought back memories of 2 relationships I had in Cuba in the last 12 years of travelling to Cuba. The 1st one was with a girl from Santa Clara.

    For those that do not know me, I was born in Cuba but raised in the grand USA. The town I was raised in here in the USA is Princeton, NJ. Folks, it does not get more anglo than good old Princeton, New Jersey. Naturaly, I have a Cuban mentally from my parents upbringing, plus a heavy doseage of American as well.

    Dianelys, the girl from Santa Clara was a mulatta with incredible hips, a$#, power steering and air condition all roll up into one (get the picture, it the type of girl that gets us fella thinking with the brain South Dixie Mason Line). We had great times together. I even spent a month in Cuba living with her. She told me that she was dirvoce. I met her ex-husband and he had a new wife. What she did not tell me that the so called “Cousin” was really her live in lover whenever I would leave the Island. I became pretty good friend with her next door neighbor who also had a daughter, who was a medical doctor. One day while calling she let me in on what was going on. I WAS HURT!!!! When I return to the Island again on another visit she alerted me to what goes on down in Cuba with these dual relationships. She told me that yes she had feelings, but that was the way things were done in Cuba. That it was just sex and nothing else. That I was making to much of a big deal. Today, we are good friends and whenever I go to Cuba and I fly into Havana. I always stop in Santa Clara for 2 or 3 nights and we simply hang out. Dianelys is one of my best friends in Cuba.
    The second relationship I had in CUba was with this Doctor from Santiago. I can honetly say that we had a great relationship but I am really not ready to marry anybody from Cuba.

    • And so it goes….sorry to hear about your experience, though you sound to have come through unscathed.

      • El Cubanito

        Connerg,
        The reason I am not suicidal or anything is because “D” reach out for me and found me and explain things. I do believe she had feeling and the reason I say that is because we have been friends for 9 years. Yes, my relationship with “D” started out in 2002, August to be exact. You and I might have bump into another in Havana and did not even know it. Connerg, I did meet another American who is still living down in Cuba as of today. I met him at a Casa Particular that Dianelys and I stayed at. He is a black guy who wrote a book about where white people came from that was extremely controversial. He still lives in Cuba. When I went last August, he was still living at the same Casa Particular that he has lives these 9 years. He is no longer a client for the Casa owners. He is family now.

        The relationship with the Doctor was a great, great relationship. She restore alot that was lost with “D”. “T” is an exceptional person, plus she is not looking to get off the Island. Trust me I know first hand. Her family is very high on the food chain. Her Mom was a teacher for Cuban Kids in the *** Embassy. Her Dad study and live in *** for a number of years. Later on both of her parents return to Cuba and were rewarded high positions with the Government. She loves her family tremendously and does not see herself leaving Cuba. I am still in very, very good term with “T”. But I thank God for meeting her and dating her, She really help me in alot of things about life.

      • glad to hear things worked out.

        PS – Ive deleted personal details to protect identity of your friends.

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  24. Mark

    when I read comments like Teri made ” I’ve known lots of Cuban American men with second families on the side…” I wonder on which planet I am living. In my 45 years I have never met anyone with a ‘second’ family. I am a German man living in the US so I guess I just have not been to the *right* places. How sad it must be to live in constant distress with whom your husband/wife slept again.

    • Hey Mark. I hadn’t met anyone with a second family (not that I was aware of anyway) until I moved to Cuba – then I met several. Having written this piece, it seems it’s more common than I ever imagined, and in different parts of the world, including the US. The Hmong community has a word for this arrangement it’s so common and apparently through social networking, the wives are starting to communicate, swap notes, etc.

      What’s interesting also, to think about, is WOMEN who have secret second families. Does anyone know of any cases of this?

      • Mark

        I was thinking about this yesterday and this might be because of 50 years of communism. Traditionally second families are a privilege of the affluent ones (at least in the western world). For a middle class person it would be very difficult to hide the expenses of a second family from the the first one. Maybe the Cuban system somehow allows men to have a second family without the stress of having to care for them.
        In the US families complain about the non-present father who is working too much, in Cuba they complain because the non-present father is busy with his other family, interesting thoughts!
        On the other hands second families were not common in communist eastern Germany.

      • Maybe, but I think this is a stretch since the phenomenon is not at all limited to a specific economical/political system.

  25. Gabriel Grenot

    Hi Conner: i’ll say this two family situation could be a cultural thing or just a real wrong thing cuban people have done for years and no one now is bother by it. growing up in the same situation and taking this to my adulthood , it giving me a different point of view of this issue.
    My mother( Pilar Portuondo Coca ) was marry to Luis Kindelan Bell a great man , father and human period. he was and still be my first and principal male model but early in my life I found out he was marry to another lady with four kids (jose Luis , Atonio, Luis Enrrique y Luisita ) which explain why he was not at home every night. some time as a child i questioned this situation to my mom and of course she was well aware of everything and she love this man until her last day on earth. Several thing or argument I can used to justified why these type of situation are acceptable in Cuba.

    (1) the absent of a biological father, which is regular in cuba
    (2) economically some people have more possibility than other to support their love one
    (3) Really important the false concept of Hombria, type of phenomenon more intrinsic in women than men (si creeme

    in my case i remember when i found out about it for a of time i hate my stepfather , but my mom was a member of El PCC and at that time in Cuba the communist party have the right to get into people private life so they make my mom life miserable about that. something that make me reconsider my opinion about that and the revolution , my mom was a happy person and became the most painful human being to see,

    Now I life in USA with kelly my wife my son Zavier and I got two more kids of my previous relationship with Emily getchell but i have a daughter as a result of an affair , thing that make me again reconsider this behavior since I life in another cultural and I understand how painful this can be . I’m not a angel and i’m not trying to be one but I hope that in the same way taht i’m trying to process this thing some others father can do the same .

    Thanks for talk about this

    • thanks for sharing your story G. I know a lot of people who are bothered by it, especially when they find out – sometimes late in life – that they have brothers and sisters por alli. Family is so important. Im glad yours was able to come to terms with it.

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  27. chantal

    I have been to Cuba 13 times, a few of them, independantly. I had a good insight on Cuban and tourists relationships (worked in a latin bar for years while I was a student), so I steered clear of any kind of romantic involvement with Cuban men. I would be asked “Do you have a boyfriend?” “yes”. “But do you have one in Cuba? ”

    Anyway, one day, a friend from Trinidad sent me a”taxi” to pick me up in Santa Clara. We stopped in Sancti Spiritu to pick up his girfriend, a stunning mulatta who was a nurse at the hospital there. We arrived in Trinidad, went for a couple of drinks with the man and his girlfriend, and then I was asked if I wanted to go to his house for dinner and rum. Then he added “Just don’t tell my wife about my girfriend when you meet her”. I was not even surprised.

    • Yup. Sounds familiar. What is interesting is how a person can be cheating on their gf/bf/spouse/companero/a and all their friends know and no one tells the person being betrayed. This is Standard Operating Procedure here and I wonder about elsewhere and what other folks think: if you found out your friend was being double timed, would you tel them?

      • Chantal

        Probably, but then again, some people just do not want to know. I would have to think about it.

  28. Roxanne

    Please I need your help before I lose it, I need to know if my boyfriend is cheating, we plan to get married in a few months, his name is David and a lifeguard at the International Hotel in Veradora Cuba, PLEASE I really need help with this, I don’t think I could handle being hurt again,
    Thank You,

    • Hi Roxanne. Wow, I really feel for you. Betrayal is the pits, especially when you’re about to take such a serious step as marriage (I assume you’ve already spent lots of money, time, and energy courting David). Im not sure exactly how I might help (pointing out that the stats skew way towards infidelity than not is unhelpful….) but maybe a nice HIH reader is going to Varadero soon and can check up??? Let me know what you have in mind. Hang in there!

      • Roxanne

        Thank you for taking the time to write, I’m in desperate need, and I hate feeling this way, usually I’m such a strong women. Please if there is anybody that can help, please.

    • El Cubanito

      Hi Roxanne,

      I personally know how you feel at this point. The only thing that I can say to you is, if your instinct are telling you that something is going on. Then they are correct. I have dated 2 times in Cuba. The first was a disaster since I found later that the person who I was told was a cousin, was not really a cousin. Then later I dated this beautiful person who later on we I found we did not have some things in common. I am very good friends with both women today. The first person after I found what was going on she sat me down and explain a lot of things that go on in Cuba and like I said we stay friends. My other advice is go to Cuba unannounced and arrive at your boyfriend house at 2:30 AM. This is how I was able to catch the first one that was cheating on me. Good Luck. Or I almost forgot DO NOT DEPEND ON SOMEBODY ELSE TO TELL YOU WHAT IS GOING ON.

      Good Luck to you.

      • Kmarina

        Wow thank you for writing your blog I wish I had seen it after my first visit to Cuba. I do not think it would of changed my mind off marrying my husband ( we had our 1 year anniversary in August) , it would of giving me a better understand and be more prepared …
        I respond to this because you mentioned MAKING A SURPRISE VISIT … I sooo want to do that not because I think there is another woman. I am older than my husband and am not stupid, I did say if anything HAD to happen, use a condom and don’t fall in love… Long story short one of his friend, only true friend went school, army, lawyers together bestman at our wedding starting saying horrible things about my husband while he was at work …I mean horrible and because I was not prepared for my husband to be gone 16hrs a day and his buddy happens to be there everyday when he was away…. I stayed for 2 1/2 months and in that time I became a crazed woman who truly was someone I did not know …. It is such a horrible disgusting experience I wish I could block it out but I cant because my crazed actions has put distance between us …. I was told to research black magic and I gotta say had I not went through what I did I would not believe the story if I heard it from someone else….

        I’m sorry long story short the thought of a surprise visit would interpret I don’t trust him …. the reason I want to go is to talk … to communicate , there was a time that was no problem …. I truly married an amazing man and now because of the stuff put in our brain in Canada and I went Crazy Canadian … things are sooo off to the point he says he needs time to think … hmmm could it be another woman … Is a surprise visit good or bad?

  29. johnabbotsford

    If this is a serious request then try here for assistance with your query – they have a ‘do you know this person?’ section.
    Note that the site has by some very jaundiced souls giving advice
    http://www.cubaamor.org/smf/index.php

  30. Roxanne

    Thank you, I’m checking into the site you gave me, many thanks, if there is any body going to Veradero, could you please help me with this?
    Thanks,
    Roxanne

  31. Regnery

    Wow this is such a interesting site, as 20 year old i must say that i agree with all of u. Personally i came very young to the U.S. before i was infected with that parasite, all the Cuban men i had know had CHEATED and so had most women, in my family has not been a man that has not cheated or had side girlfriends the same goes for all women in my family. I personally look down on such action from both, and now that im of age my own father encourage me to cheat on my girl “come bien y malo, come doble”. Im a soldier in the US army, go to College and have a beautiful Russian girlfriend who i plan to marry. She is studying in Russia for the moment (one year left) and will return to the states, my male family members obsession with cheating has led us to be distant and even get in fights “el hombre ase lo que le da la gana, por que es el que manda” thats my father’s saying to me. 90% of CUBANS cheat, both men and women. Marriage is nothing in Cuba and people think with their dicks and uterus instead of the head, also remember many people leave school and they only live cause of sex tourism. I went to CUBA a few years ago, when i was single staying in a hotel at HAVANA, the front desk manager told me on a late evening “te tengo una surprize” when went to my room there was a beautiful blond woman with blue eyes there, turned out it has his wife and he wanted me to sleep with her for money, i denied and kicked her out made a complain about it also. I don’t know what kind of disease could that woman have and im not a whore. Most Cubans cheat, but that does not mean all. I came young, but i grew between religious Americans and several Army men who took their marriage very seriously. It sucks even more when is your own family who tells u to cheat, all but my mother and grandmother all else do so. ALL men in my CUBAN family had cheated, and CUBAN AMERICANS who were raised in a natural Cuban family without socializing with a healthy being, will turn out ot be a natural “balsero”. And for u women who are ok with open relationships letting your men cheat, shame on u, u are better than a doll and if a man is not willing to give 199% and goes to another women it shows he does not care about u, but your cooking, so dump that SOB and get your self a real MAN.

    • I always say that Cuban dichos (sayings/axioms) reveal some truths about this crazy place and I thank this reader for supplying two:

      “come bien y malo, come doble” – eat well, eat poorly, but eat twice.

      “el hombre ase lo que le da la gana, por que es el que manda” – the man does what he wants, because he’s the one who wears the pants.

    • Rose

      New to this blog. Love your insight as a Cuban man. I have been married to a Cuban man , not for long. He has lived here for 18 yrs. and it has been quite an experience. One I do not want to repeat. I had NO IDEA of all the issues that come with this type of relationship. This person desires to go back to Cuban which I think is a good idea. Keep it over there. The respect for men/women relationship is not in their thinking. Hard lesson for me, but I am getting through it. Thanks again!

  32. mark

    I can only confirm most of the comments here. I am here for two weeks (not as a fancy hotel/tour/resort tourist!) and what I have been able to observe is a bit sad. Several of my friends here are cheating or with other men’s wives. Anyone I ask has been married several times or children with multiple women. I understand that 2 weeks is short and that the people I am with are not typical. At least they are typical for what I am reading here. It’s a sad statement that people need multiple partners to feel good about themselves.
    And I just heard thunder! Raining in havana.

    • Hi Mark.

      Yeah, that was some super storm – and looks like we’re in for more.

      Im sorry you’re seeing the seedy side of Havana – as you point out, 2 weeks is short and this isn’t all Cubans. If the sun stays out long enough, maybe pass a few hours in Parque Monte Barreto or Almendares to see a different side of the city?

      The married several times and children w multiple women is par for the course in much of the world, as are single mothers. Men – they make a great case for being a lesbian! (kidding, people…sort of).

  33. Pingback: How to Cope Like A Cuban | Here is Havana

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  36. Montreal

    wow, ok, first let me say great write up on a subject that has been of great interest to me ever since I first visited Cuba three years ago. I fell in love with Havana and have been making multiple trips a year ever since, and among many unique phenomenon that make Cuba special, for better or worse, this is one I haven’t seen explored to great length. I am in my late 20s, originally Mediterranean, and have lived in Canada for some time. I have travelled extensively in Europe, South and North America, but have never encountered this level of promiscuity, or what was even more surprising, how unfazed, or even encouraging the locals are in such practices. And don’t get me wrong, I am not one to pass judgment, I am single, fit, speak 4 languages and make a comfortable living; my views and practices on dating are far from puritan, so I don’t usually sleep alone unless it’s by choice. while I don’t condone cheating, I’m not one for long term relationships either… all this to say that in my world, some people might find the frequency of women that come and go high, others even moraly reprehensible. But from what I have seen in Havana, from local friends and acquaintances, it’s left me at a loss for words, many scenarios similar to the ones described in earlier replies. The hardest thing to get used to was that in certain situations, the involved parties did not really make an effort at discretion, but it’s like there is some kind of Omertà it comes to this matters, and people don’t even acknowledge it, let alone feel the need to inform the wronged parties in these equations… All I’ve read, seen, heard and experienced so far would make me inclined to agree with the comment the Turkish gentleman made to you, as much as I have come to like and enjoy most Cubans I’ve met. My apologies for the generalizing or even judgmental tone in comments, I am not one for blanket statements, I am sure that my social circles in Havana might keep me from a others that might act/see things differently, but again, from someone who’s always been into behavioralism and different social norms and conventions, again, I find this fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed this piece as well as all the ensuing discourse in the comments section. Your blog is quickly becoming a staple of waiting for boarding at airports.. I read a lot of Cuban blogs as well, but I really enjoy your unique perspective, so much so that I’m even willing to forgive your utter and repeated contempt for Reggaeton… 😉 greetings from San Diego Intl’, keep up the great work with the blog and the app!

    • Hola Montreal and thanks for your thoughts on the subject. And please everyone, stop apologizing for having opinions!!! Especially when they’re as balanced and well presented as this one. In other words: Man up people! And if you all don’t, I will: Cubans are tropical satyrs and they don’t care who knows it! Even their partners; As you sagely point out: “the involved parties did not really make an effort at discretion, but it’s like there is some kind of Omertà it comes to this matters” (love the Omerta ref by the way; Cuba: its the Slut Syndicate!)

      OK, rant over. Seriously now, I can’t believe a well spoken, multi lingual, world traveler, swinging single like yourself hasn’t been come on to in a major way here. Its just unbelievable that you didn’t have a pair of 20-something girls dancing in their window naked while you ate a pizza on the prado (like happened to a friend of mine) or been propositioned by a 26 y.o. “virgin” (like happened at a table adjacent and made me project my congris across the patio the idea of a 26 yo Cuban virgin is so laughable) Is this spam, I now wonder? Are you trying to provoke a response where I call Cubans shameless tropical satyrs and heads of a Slut Syndicate?!

      I repeat: Reggaeton is a scourge.

      And I will use the “read me while being bored to tears at gate 36” as a marketing tool. thanks! please fly again with Here is Havana.

      • Montreal

        hello again Conner… As I sit here debating if I want to go out and battle the elements on a seasonal February Saturday night here in Montreal (having recently returned from a few days in SoCal too boot), I figured I’d take a stab at replying. Outright, I want to apolig…errr..never mind, I get what you’re saying, and I’m seldom accused of being overly diplomatic. I just have so many friends and acquaintances that like to make utterly false and misinformed declarations about Cuba, which drives me insane for a number of reasons. First, most have never spent any significant time there out of a resort, and even the ones that have, are too culture shocked to even try and recognize that rationalizing Cuban reality through very superficial and at misinformed western views just doesn’t work, and makes you look silly to someone who might know better. This is why I can get a bit apprehensive when sharing my thoughts on Cuba, while I have been there many times now, and learned and experienced a great deal, in a way I feel like there are many things I understand less the more I see. Part of what has me coming back I guess.. well, that and trying to become a card carrying member of the Slut Syndicate :)… I loved that btw, so the fact that my original reply tipped the glass that produced your rant coining that little gem makes it totally worth it.

        The other thing I wanted to clarify, I’m sorry if you somehow got the idea that I am spared the endless advances when visiting. I can think of a number of unsubtle ways I’ve been approached in various places around the city, they range from the funny and unexpected to downright scary and embarrassing, and I’m far from bashful.. Maybe the next time I’m in town we can grab a bite, I can share some memorable ones, and you’ll let me pick your brain about some questions I would love to ask a long term yuma permanent resident.. Also, I’d like to see if that appetite of yours lives up to the billing, my treat, any Reggeaton-free zone of your choosing… 😛

        On the original subject matter though, somewhere over Arizona last night I remembered an interesting experience from when I was there to ring in 2012 a month ago. After being out on the town the night of my arrival with my date, my good friend from Havana and his now official novia (I had actually introduced them on my previous trip), we drove back to my casa in Playa, and since I wasn’t really sober enough to drive him, I told him to take my car home. As he had no credits in his phone, I also gave him my cuban mobile so I can call him to bring the car back once I got up. When he came back later that day, he had a “I told you so” smirk as he greeted me. Reason being, when I had first seen him after getting into town the previous day and asked about his novia, he had mentioned that he thinks she might be into me, as she seemed a bit too excited, as he put it, that I was coming to town. I didn’t think much of it and just took it as standard cuban banter. But surely enough, after he had dropped her, and then me and my date off later that night, she had sent a rather explicit text message to my cuban phone, which she figured I had, since he had called her from it earlier, telling her whose number it was. Now all this could have happened anywhere, what ensued was more local; not only was my friend thoroughly amused by the her asking me to pick her up from school (she’s a teacher) for a “proper welcome”, but he thought I should actually do it. When I declined, obviously, he continued to see her like nothing happened, and still does, while I had to have a “bro code” chat with her the next time we saw each other, to which she replied that I was being childish… understanding relationships and personal conduct in Havana, no es facil… 🙂

      • Wow/Guau! First let me say that I have some of the grooviest readers around (I hardly read other blogs so this is completely subjective; sue me). And recently Ive noticed an uptick in both quality AND quantity which life so rarely produces, so for this I give thanks.

        I can’t reply to your long and interesting comment today since Im preparing to pop my bike polo cherry here in Havana in a few short hours but your cell phone swap story is diabolically delicious (some commenters claim this sort of stuff happens all over but the combo of
        “throwing base” at you, your friend encouraging her to do so, and her chastising you following the bro code chat is classic Cuban and something I cant imagine happening in the same way anywhere else; maybe Brazil but thats it).

        Can I cop the story for my book?!

      • Montreal

        no worries, trying out ridicoulous new sports like bike polo should always take precedent (still tying to get my head around how that actually works).. I’m actually impressed by your response frequency, considering the availability/reliability of connection in Havana, not like you can pop them off from the iPhone on the go like yours truly and most people here. And as for using the anecdote, by all means, whatever gets the book out there sooner, I’m all for it…cheers

  37. Pingback: The Cuban Love Doctor Is In | Here is Havana

  38. Wow, I’m so glad I found you article here! It’s tough finding good stuff on Cuba that isn’t super political. As for the duel family thing, I did some studying in Mexico for awhile and from what I hear… this is a regular occurrance with that culture as well.

    I’ve also heard that many a businessman will go to Mexico and take a wife as they’re supposed to be very loyal. Crazy stuff huh?

    • While there are many dueling families here, there and everywhere, Ive also found (thanks to this post), that there are also dual families al around the world!

  39. Pingback: Calling the Cuban Fashion Police, Urgente! | Here is Havana

  40. latiburona

    Hi. How can I find out if my ex husband got married in Cuba when he went to ” visit his family?” Is there a public records website or number I could call? Thank you.

    • Oh dear, this doesn’t sound good (‘huele mal’ as we say). Unfortunately, I dont know of a public records database. certainly not on line. MAybe try the cuba amor website/ask their users?

      Also keep in mind that 1/2 of cuban marriages are not legalized but carry all the same rights and responsibilities as if the couple was married with papers. So it may not matter at all if its “official”

      good luck.

      • latiburona

        Thank u for your response. Si mi Amiga huele mal. My beautiful Cuban husband who I was married to for ten years went on a trip to Cuba, then another, then another within a year, supposedly to visit his sick father, coming back each time acting strangely: started smoking, drinking cheap beer, dressing flashy. Picking on me for things I thought he loved for, like being independent and strong. Supposedly he kept going back ( he hadn’t gone for 14 years since he first came to the u.s. at 25, said he never wanted to return to that suffering) to purchase an air conditioned house for his dad. I have yet to confirm that said house exists. Well, after his last visit to Cuba which was supposed to be a week but turned into 2 months, he told me he didn’t love me anymore and wanted a divorce. 3 months later he married an 18 yr old jinetera he ” rescued” from Cuba. I found this all out on my own as his friends and family covered for him. It shocked me to my core and 2 yrs later still does. I think he married her in Cuba while he was married to me. So the problem is I still dig on Cuban men. Can a u.s. citizen go to visit Cuba? Maybe I’ll go pick myself up a jinetero lol. The kicker is that all my Cuban friends tell me it was all my fault for letting him go to Cuba by himself in the first place bc supposedly no normal man can say no to the temptations there, and young girls are just looking for their ticket out of there and they will use your husband to do so. I don’t know I guess they’re right. I didn’t know he was going to such a tempting place. Anyways thanks for listening to me. *** end of post**

        ek but turned backhome, to Cuba as a u.s. citizen? Maybe ill go pick myself one up lol. A jinetero. Anyways thanks for listening. All our Cuban friends and

      • digging on cuban men? very hard not to in spite of it all……

        Cmon down – there are many for the taking and to cure what ails you.

      • latiburona

        ** I think he married her in cuba on one of his trips while married to me, then came here, stirred shit up with me so we’d divorce, then married her here in the u.s. The u.s. marriage I do know about. I want to prove he committed bigamy so I can get an annulment.

      • Ay chica. Im so sorry this happened to you. Ten years is a long time (esp married to a cuban – it’s longer than dog years!). I don’t know about proving bigamy and all that but I do know that once the 18 yo old jinetera throws him overboard (and she will, trust me), he’ll likely start sniffing around again. Im a little sick of this “titimania” that men – all men it seems, but especially here, I have MANY male friends 45+ who are with women young enough to be their daughters. Character flaw? Im beginning to think so!!

        Hang tough!

      • latiburona

        Lol. Yes, I am sure I can find the solution(s) to what ails me in Cuba. As they say ” un clavo saca otro.” I’m going to start planning my trip! I know these older dudes are a trip,with their affinity for young girls, but man they age really well..being in my 30’s I’m sure I’m past my prime! Maybe I can take some Tommy Hilfiger shirts to bribe them lol. Anyways, is this your book “Havana Good Time?” I’m so going to read it asap if it is! You are so funny and insightful I must know more!!!

      • Ha! As you may imagine, the saying “un clavo saca otro” (one nail pulls out another, literally translated. loosely translated: got screwed? time to screw another) is VERY popular over this way! Did you know it comes from Shakespeare?

        Havana Good Time is a guide to Havana – digital, downloadable app for iPhone/Pad/Touch and Android. Fully functional here in Havana but great for armhchair travel too!

      • latiburona

        Hi again! For some reason I couldn’t post under our blog convo… No, I did not know that “un clavo saca otro” is from el Shakespeare! Where exactly- what text -do you know? I have been reading all of your blogs and am dying of laughter! Man, you have got some spot on observations. I am so glad I found your blog. I thought I was imagining some of the crazy shit I saw/heard during my 10 yr marriage to a cubano. Turds on the beach! LOL

  41. Marissa

    From Marissa Perez, LCSW
    Por eso los hombres y especialmente los cubanos son solo for a WEEKEND!!!! Do not forget that queridas!!!

    • Jajaja. Por eso me encanta la cancion por Queen Latifah, “Weekend Love!”

      • latiburona

        Yes. Although I admit that I totally crush on cubanos now after being married to one, I’m not dumb enough to engage in another relationship that would last longer than a 3 day wknd! It’s like their coffee small doses Black or mixed w/ cream very hot but ultimately cheap & not all the damn time.

  42. Pingback: Apretando Mi Corazón: Cuban Emigration | Here is Havana

  43. chrystal

    i have been with a cuban man for going on eleven years. it took about five years before i realized how much of a cheater he is. we have six kids, and i now know he has never from day one been faithful. we have been through so much together. he has slept with every female i know except my grandma and mom. he has slept with my sister, aunts, friends, and many very nasty women i dont know but found out about. i find alot of women covering for him. saying that they are just friends, but others tell me different

    • Yowza. Im not sure what surprises me most about your comment – the failure to do abue y mama (what is he, ageist?!); the six kids (how on earth do you support them?!); or that you’re still with him. That’s a whole lot of betrayal to swallow (sister and “friends” included). Suerte mujer.

  44. shannon parker

    Been thinking of marrying a cuban….all this reading has given a new perspective in some ways.

    • Hola Shannon. Im glad my blog has helped provide new perspective – that’s my major motivation. But keep in mind that bad experiences tend to get more screen time/column inches than good and while many of the comments are along the lines of “I was tricked/dogged/heart-broken” there ARE successful cuban/foreigner marriages. Managing expectations, knowing the person (and cuban culture) as well as possible, addressing financial and resource-related issues early and head on, and speaking each others’ language (literally and figuratively) are all important for any marriage, but especially the intercultural kind. Good luck!

      • shannon

        Thanks! Keep the blog up, I think all views, good or bad offer some insight. I have known my partner for 5 years, on a friendship level. Our friendship moved forward about 18 months ago.His brother is married to one of my best friends here in canada for the past 9 years. One never truly knows their partner until we are under the same roof day in and day out, even then, nothing is a guarantee. I am trying to be objective and realistic. We have made applications for a visa for him to come and visit, all have been denied. I am under the understanding this is the “norm”. Frustrating! My lack of knowledge into the “system”, it would seem reasonable to grant a visitors visa rather than individuals getting into quick marriages.

    • Mark

      My understanding is that this year (2013) a lot of the travel restrictions for Cubans were relaxed. It should be easier now to get Cubans out of the Country without a marriage commitment.
      I just got back from another trip and I must say that I have also noticed that most Cuban men have one or more women “on the side”. When I was alone with Cuban men they always started to brag how many girl friends they have (while being married). At one occasion a married Cuban man was giving me and my gf a tour and I wondered why he would take pictures of us. Turned out his tour-gideing gave him carte blanche for the evening to screw around behind of his wife’s back and he needed proof. I guess his wife did not trust him very much.
      It’s a great country with very nice people but you have to be aware of a couple of things, e.g. the lack of faithfulness and a very relaxed attitude towards promiscuity.

      • Hi Mark. Thanks for chiming in.

        The restriction that has been removed is the exit permit required by the Cuban govt to travel abroad. The ENTRY requirements for countries receiving Cubans have not changed (to my knowledge) and that, along with having the funds to travel, are the real barriers to travel. It is a bold step to remove this exit permit and one that was discussed hot and heavily throughout the country in the national debates held in 2010.

        As many have voiced here. the relaxed attitude towards fluid relationships (after all, promiscuity is relative!) is something many people appreciate about Cubans.

  45. glenn menendez

    Ola, que bola chica?? I’m a cuban american, on behalf of my dad chica who came over from north havana. My dad actually had couple nicknames he called me while growing up “cubanito an cubichi”. His friends called me those or “cuba also his name “carlos antonio jr”. I’m hoping to look up some of my cuban familia that I’ve lost do to my mom’s ridiculousness. But although I’m cuban american, I feel 90% tha I am lol funny ah?? I am very faithful. Actually if it wasn’t for the 2gorgeous children an 9yrs I have with my girl(yes girl), I’d be a single father. She is an american from creo, jamaica, gringa lol. After she cheated on me ya chica we broke up an mann… yo eche sal en muchas comidas..
    I enjoyed your blog. Was actually just surfing cuban heritage an came across this blog an had to read it chica lol… But ay althought I’m 90% cuban lol 5% american and 5% rican I love the cuban part of me.. I hope to visit as Im planning on moving to orlando with the familia. But thanks for the insight of my country.. An there are faithfuls.. Just BELIEVE in em chica. Btw I’m 28..

  46. You actually made many terrific stuff with your blog, “Those Faithful Cubans
    | Here is Havana”. I’ll be coming back to ur web-site shortly. Thx ,Sherlene

    • Thanks Sherlene. Glad you liked it. If you subscribe to the blog, you’ll receive new posts directly to your mailbox. I only post 2 times or so a month, so I promise, you won’t be flooded.

    • Thanks Sherlene. Glad you liked it. If you subscribe to the blog, you’ll receive new posts directly to your mailbox. I only post 2 times or so a month, so I promise, you won’t be flooded.

  47. Pingback: Havana Vice: Titimanía | Here is Havana

  48. geneduval

    Interesting experiences you’ve had in Cuba. Interesting dialogues in your blog.
    Returned from a trip to Cuba a few weeks ago, Was born there, had not been back since i was 13, which is 53 years ago. Traveled from Maisi to Cabo San Antonio. a wonderful, emotional trip. have lived in Alaska most of my life, back here now. Met a Cubana half my age who traveled with me, wants to marry me when i return. Which i plan to do soon.
    Are you currently in Cuba? May we correspond privately? genealaska@gmail.com
    best wishes.

    • Hey Gene.
      Glad you landed at here is havana. Must have been a real trip visiting this wacky, wonderful island after half a century away. Alaska and Maisi are two places that keep cropping up for me here; I’ve had invites to both places in the past 2 weeks and can’t take advantage of either of them due to work and finances (ie lack thereof).

      Best way to communicate privately is to send a message to the address under the Get in Touch section of the menu on the right. I respond to all real inquiries.

      So do you plan to return soon, marry soon or both?! Not clear from how you’ve written it. If the latter, is it a case of “gustos”, “gastos” or both?

  49. Pingback: Pushing Your Luck in Cuba | Here is Havana

  50. Jasmina

    I am a half Cuban who lives probably about a good 10, 000 miles away from the island now. Cubans in my city are so rare that all of us know each other – all 50-100 of us. I randomly spotted a cubano dancing casino out at a local club here and though “How odd, he must be new”.

    Of course it didn’t take long for him to start hitting on me, and he was indeed, new. The entire time, my grandmothers voice running through my head with her favourite saying on this subject “If he’s not cheating with you, then he’s cheating on you.” Despite feeling uneasy, but he was still extremely nice and surprisingly not pushy – I ended up kissing him at the end of the night.

    I found out the very next day from someone else, that he has a fiancé of over a year here, a local girl. Being a local, she has no idea about this side of the culture – and I doubt anyone took the time to educate her. I can’t help but wonder if she will find out and when? Would it matter to her? Would she still marry him anyway? Is he only marrying her for the visa? Whatever the circumstances, I feel terrible for playing any part in this, and even more terrible for her.

  51. acanuck

    I am happy to report a very successful marriage. We were married in 2002 after 3 years of an on and off relationship. We decided to get hitched and I had no illusions about the possibility my wife would stray. It did happen twice in the first few years but we worked through it and I am sure glad we did. It was not all that easy for her to leave the life she had and settle down. There was the age difference and long periods when we were not together. I can’t say I was all that faithful either.
    In any relationship there is always a risk that one or the other will meet someone they would rather be with. That never goes away. We are both older now and that possibility greatly reduced. The been there done it scenario has had its affect.
    My wife and son can now travel to Canada whenever they want and we are now together most of the time.
    We are going stronger than ever and building a life with many plans for the future.

  52. Jim Bob

    Conner. Cuba is s great place to visit. But I dont understand how anyone coming from a first world nation could stand to live there more than a few weeks. I travel to cuba for the habanos Festival every year,, stay at most three weeks in “5 star” hotels and rent a car. After 3 weeks of cuba I’m just fed up… why would you choose to lower your standard of living under a tyrannical government with a cheating cuban husband to boot?

    • Thanks for getting in touch. As I always say: no matter where you live, you take the good with the bad and for me, the good here is a great fit. The bad? It gets me down sometimes (last week I punched a door out of frustration – to my detriment rather than the door!) but the good always shines through and picks me back up.

      Your comment makes a lot of assumptions – I don’t feel I’ve lowered my standard of living. On the contrary – my standard of living has improved greatly, in too many ways to elaborate here but some that jump to mind are eating totally locally sourced (and mostly organic food); having neighbors who know me, love me, and help me and vice versa; having happy, safe kids playing around and with me all the time; having friends from ages 12 to 84; getting around (and around and around) town on two wheels; not being glued to a virtual, computer/handheld device-driven reality; having views of palm trees from my living room, fresh flowers for 75 cents a bunch, and phenomenal thunder and lightening storms; getting to see (and dance to!) Los Van Van for free; living in a big, capital city with a minimum amount of crime, drugs, and homelessness; living in a society where the vulnerable are prioritized and it’s not a crime to be poor; and on and on. Im not saying its perfect (I could totally do without gossip, envidia, paranoia, and the arbitrariness that is rampant here for instance) and I don’t mean to intimate that these quality of life issues aren’t available elsewhere, but I’ve found them here.

      And I hardly felt like I chose anything: love (the reason why I finally made the move) isn’t a choice, it’s a force. A force which I’m powerless to control! And besides, who said my husband cheated on me?

      Cheers

  53. Cerezita

    Hola Conner
    I’ve only just discovered your blog as I was actually browsing online for a hairdresser as I’m getting married in Sept in Havana (yes, to a Cuban) and came across the article of your hairdo escapades (which I found hilarious btw). As others mentioned, I don’t tend to read much online about Cuba apart from news as most blogs/articles are politics based which is 1) not much to my interest and 2) becoming so repetitive and so, I find your blog really refreshing and amusing too!
    I lived and studied in Cuba for about 6 months many years ago and have being going back and forth for varying lengths of time since then and now marrying the same guy I met all those years ago now!
    Re the faithfulness issue, your question posed re what exactly is classed as cheating really hits the nail on the head. Many Cubans will think nothing of having an “aventura” or “amiguit@” whilst being married or in a long term relationship and probably don’t class it as cheating as no one is above their “mujer”.
    However, I find it amazing therefore, how jealous they can be. In the early days, my boyf admitted to an “aventura” he had but it came to nothing and we moved on but it was a different story when he saw some text msgs from an admirer (who happened to be a latino so you can probably imagine the messages which probably made it worse), there were fireworks and this from a not very “normal” Cuban i.e. quite quiet, happy to stay at home type!
    For those about to get married and are worried about this – don’t let it get you too down as to a Cuban an amiguita is nothing compared to their mujer. A lot of my male Cuban friends (and these are young guys) have been with the same girl for many years now (of course I can’t speak for what goes on privately) and for most of them I have only ever seen them with that girl and we’ve been friends for years now so it’s not like they try to hide it. However, I know those who are mujeriegos too and that’s just the way they are and most of them openly so (and this goes for all of them worldwide) so if you think they are not being faithful in the sense that they have some other permanent partner then that’s where it gets tricky.
    Finally, what about the issue of faithfulness for the non-Cuban in the relationship? Especially when you’re not living together? I ask because although it may be accepted in Cuba (despite the jealousy of your partner ironically) and amongst Cubans outside the island, that may not necessarily be the case elsewhere e.g. N America or Europe. Due my social set up now, a lot of my friends are latinos and so if I was to show up to one of their houses with someone other than the Cuban, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid or judge even if he just left the day before or was due to come in a week! However, it can be different with local friends/family as to them your partner/spouse is only that one person no matter where they live. I have dated other guys in the past and basically done it in secret (one guy for 7 months) as I just felt it would be too difficult trying to explain this very issue. Anyone with any other thoughts/experiences on this?

    • Love, lust, intimacy, humans – it’s all very complex, as this comment illustrates. Best of luck with the wedding/matrimony!

      • Cerezita

        Thanks Conner, your summary is perfect; it’s just how life and love goes and in this age everyone, not just Cubans wants the best of both worlds and to be happy. My long comment was really in response to the girl who posted some time ago re being worried that her husband to be may be cheating and she seemed to be tormented by it. It’s probably also the case for those who decide to marry Cubans after what may seem a short time and therefore, worry about what they have gotten into having not had the time to really understand how it all goes.
        But if you’re based in one country and your partner to be in another for any length of time, it’s really not something you should stress over if possible (may only be for those with a certain personality/character, (perhaps similar to that of Cubans))!!

        Thanks for the good wishes- (organising a wedding ‘de afuera’ isn’t easy); it’s been over 8 years now so I’m pretty clued up on love n life in Cuba but still learning of course. I was only 20 when we met hence the long relationship and we’ve learnt and matured over those years so life & marriage in my 30s hopefully won’t be too difficult to conquer. Nowadays what worries us more is things like immigration issues as where I live super tough immigration laws prevail and not even a long r’ship & genuine marriage can guarantee a visa anymore. If that proves the case, I may also become a yuma living in my home from home… 

      • Hola

        I think marriage is a lot of work no matter your age or culture or orientation. Im not sure it can be conquered but I like your motivation to try! Suerte.

  54. Cerezita

    Anyone with any other thoughts/experiences on this?

  55. acanuck

    I have observed that Cuban guys will not tolerate infidelity from their wife/gf. That can be big trouble for both the wife/gf and the other guy. Sometimes with a machete. Their infidelities are often accepted as long as they are not public knowledge.
    Cubanas do have a jealous streak too. Not to say that she will not dish out some punishment to him or confront the girl, often violently, but it eventually blows over. Cuban men have a hard time resisting opportunities and don’t seem to have much guilt about it.

  56. martyn pressley

    can anyone help me on here please,i have recently returned from cuba & whilst there i met a beautiful younger(many years younger) cuban girl.we got on very well but the language barrier made it difficult but her so called uncle helped with this.my main concern is if she is genuine or are other people pushing her into things

    • Hola. Big age gap; cultural differences; language barrier; so called uncle. Do YOU think it was genuine? I would bet my book contract it isn’t. My advice? Call this a vacation intrigue and move on…fast.

      • hola connergo,i think you are right but i’ll keep my fingers crossed,i’ve got her address,a neighbours phone no. & her uncles e-mail,i can but hope…is a letter from england likely to make it to this girls house or not,many thanks

  57. gorillabiskut

    Glad to see people are still replying to this even a few years later.. So i can share my story.
    I am an American, born and raised in Cali. Half Mexican half Cuban. I never knew the Cuban side of my family until a few years back, when I went to visit Cuba. I fell in love with the country and eventually decided (I think it was my dad who gave me the crazy idea) that I wanted to get married to a girl from there. After a few failed relationships in Cuba, and after spending about a year in Cuba, my uncle introduced me to his wife’s neese. She is in no way related to me, but she is close to the family.
    I am 22, she’s 17. We fell in love and got married. From what I know of her, she had never been the type to go after tourists or anything like that. My uncle told me very good things about her. She’s your typical light skinned, petite beauty. I’m absolutely crazy over her.
    Here’s a little bit about me: I actually look more Cuban than her because I have dark skin. I currently am unemployed, however I have good financial backup from my parents, and am definately planning to obtain a decent job before I bring her to the US.
    I am your average looking guy, 190lbs and 5’11. I own a 2008 Mercedes so I won’t look like some chump when she sees my lifestyle.
    The problem is that I only knew her about 1 month before we got married. and I now have been married to her for about 3 months.
    I live with constant doubts in my mind about whether or not she is cheating on me and if this whole thing is just a huge lie. I call her almost every day, and we text throughout most of the day. I send her money so she can live comfortably while she’s waiting to come to the US. She claims shes going to attend English classes while she waits, etc.
    I find comfort in thinking about how my story is so different from the others in that I am not some old dude going to look for some highly unrealistic relationship with someone 20 years younger than me. I am young, strong, smart, and I’ve got financial stability. I’m also not bad looking, but nor am I a model by any means.
    We sometimes argue over stupid things, and it bugs me because the calls and texts are really expensive to Cuba and sometimes we waste them on just arguing. But when the relationship goes well, it makes me feel like the most accomplished guy on earth.
    The other day, for example, I tell her I have a surprise for her (a wedding ring). And she kept bugging me trying to get me to tell her what it was. Then she started saying how she might not like some types of surprises so that I better tell her now so I won’t be dissapointed. I never ended up telling her but I can’t help but think that the reason she needed to know was because she thought I might surprise her by showing up at her doorstep one day and finding something I wouldn’t like.. like another man…
    I hate to think that stuff and it kills me.
    another thing is that she has family in Nevada. If she ends up coming over here to the US she has a place to escape to.
    I really hate sharing my stories online because people can be really mean and tell you things you don’t want to hear but I’m curious to see what anyone has to say about my story. Like i said, I feel different because I’m so young.

    • gorillabiskut

      BTW, I am fluent in Spanish, so me and my wife communicate very effectively

    • Hola

      Thanks for (over?)sharing. Im not quite sure what you’d like me to say (not that that ever stops me!). However, when you write you “feel different because you’re so young” I wonder: different from whom or what?

      It’s not your youth that “llama la atencion” about your story, but that you married someone after knowing them a month. And its an intercultural relationship (ie the harder/est kind) to boot. Communication is not only based on language (yes, I understand you’re both Spanish speakers) but on cultural norms, context, upbringing, openess, trust, etc. So even though 2 people speak the same language doesn’t mean they necessarily communicate effectively with each other. Furthermore, there are many types of “unrealistic relationships” and they dont just involve old dudes with someone 20 years their junior. By the way – at 17, she’s still illegal under Cuban law.

      I wish you luck but it’s clear you already realize that the odds are against you.

      • Gorillabiskut

        Well since i noticed so many people were sharing i thought id fit in quite well here because of the nature of my story. I meant that i was different from the stereotype of a foreigner who gets married in cuba. I just thought id post here because you seem to have a lot of experience with this topic so maybe if you told me something to confirm my doubts i would feel better or something.. I really dont know, but we all do need to vent our lives sometimes and i just came accross this on google so i thought i would get you to read it. Thanks for reading anyway

      • Age aside, Im not so sure you’re very different from the stereotypical foreigner who gets married in Cuba – spending tons of money to maintain the relationship, putting the fiance visa (or whatever other emigration mechanism) in motion, doubting her faithfulness and transparency, writing into my blog to wonder and seek advice….sounds very familiar

        Keep us posted on how things unfold/turn out if you feel like it.

  58. Leah

    It’s been interesting being here and it gives me pause. I started a relationship with a Cuban man and was shocked when his wife arrived
    at the local airport. Surprise!!! He said he didn’t know how to tell me.
    Most of his time is spent with me but every night he is back with his other love. I have never been able to understand loving two people at once as that’s just not in my make up. Would have never believed I could have found myself in this situation. I don’t doubt his love is real as you just can’t fake some things. He wants me to go back to cuba with him to show me how beautiful the island is, but after reading all here am now having second thoughts. There is something in him though that have never felt with
    anyone else. Talk about a sticky situation as I don’t want anyone hurt
    and there just doesn’t seem to be any great way forward. Life most certainly has taken a most unexpected turn. He calls me his wife and
    we wear matching wedding rings and have made a commitment to one another. There are just some realities with this though that are hard to deal with as I have always been with only one person at a time and have never ever cheated. Am just a bit still in shock and trying to feel my way through this. I tried to end things but that isn’t happening to well either. There are just to many feelings and a strong heart pull to walk away. When we are together we enjoy all of life it’s not revolving around sex although have to say that aspect has been strong but we keep it to a low roar. When we
    are together it just seems that the world falls into a right place. So what
    to do ?

    • Hi there

      Im not sure Im the right person to be giving advice on this sort of thing. Check that. Im DEFINITELY not the person to be providing advice on this sort of thing but I understand polygamy is all the rage up north these days and it’s certainly nothing new here in Cuba…

      Your note pointed up a giant red flag for me that has nothing to do with the wife/querida dynamic, however. He didn’t know how to tell you he had a wife, so let her do the “telling” when she showed up at the airport? Sounds like a big old coward to me.
      In my opinion, he needs to put on his big boy pants and grow a pair if he’s going to make TWO women happy.

      Good luck.

      • Leah

        Hello –

        Thank you for your reply. In some ways he definitely
        has a huge set. Can say he has been doing all possible
        to keep both happy. Who knows what is up ahead with
        it all. He is quite gentle but yet definitely a mans man
        and one that is the epitome of suave, in a good way.

        Thank you again.

  59. Marianne

    I am a half Swedish half Greek woman that lived my life partly in Greece partly in Sweden. Some years ago I had the opportunity to work in Cuba. Of course I fell in love with the country and it’s people. Over the years living in different countries and in different cultures I have discovered that telling lies is a cultural trait that is a very interesting topic to discuss but not very pleasant to experience. In Sweden people for example in general do not lie very much. Sometimes they probably should. To be overly honest can be really annoying… In Greece on the other hand I found out that lies are much more common and a part of how people communicate and everybody seems to be aware of the rules of the game. In Cuba however there seem to be a master level lying game. It was quite obvious fairly quickly to me. Now I have been thinking about this and how a whole country can be affected by it but most importantly the reasons for it. This is my theory. I would really appreciate your piensamentos upon it! People feeling powerless seem to need somebody “below” them. Having somebody “below” yourself takes away a little bit of your own feeling of powerlessness. The theory is that feeling in power in your life (this is always in comparison to others and where they are on the power scale) is something we all need and want. Lying is one way of suppressing and make people be out of control. So in Sweden for example where people for some 100 years now have been in a situation where they have felt in power due to different reasons and not very powerless there is not really a “need” to lie. In Cuba especially men struggle with being powerless due to the hard work on equality matters. If then you can not control women with money or education or having a position maybe you can “put them down” by lying and cheating? in cuba with a history of machismo the revolution must have been very hard on men. Do I make sense? It was way harder to write this in English rather than speak about it Swedish so please excuse me if my theory (to a great extent influenced by Sir Michael Marmot) seem confused… Thank you so much Conner for your always inspiring blog.              

    • Hi Marianne. Thanks for your thoughts on this. You might be on to something, but I’m coming off a long, fun night and there’s no coffee in the house, so my analytical skills are not what they might normally be. Any other readers care to comment?

  60. frank

    Hi Conner
    great blog.I entered a relationship 1 yr ago with my cuban girfriend and married her in august 2013 I have realised that maybe i did rush into marriage but like many people here,I realised that it was impossible to have her obtain a visitor’s visa.I can say this today:’i have learned a sh.. load about cubans that I did not know before; I have been naive thinking that my sweetheart has been always honest with me

  61. frank

    However I have recognised my relationship thru many comments and was stunned. I am 47 and she is 33 and in my mind a woman of 33 yrs of age is mature enough to know wha she wants and was ready to settle down. Now thjat being said I hope that I am wrong about the feelings that I have about her now after having read your blog but reflecting back at all that we have been thru since we have met,hmmm makes me wonder. anyhow thanks a mil….

  62. happywiththebeaches

    How great to stumble across this blog!! I have been to cuba maybe 18 times over the last 8 years, i stay with my friend and her daughter in havana, and travel around, to towns, and i just ended my 3rd relationship to a cuban man. Within 5 minutes of meeting him, i told him that one day i would like to be in cuba more than canada, with some $ in cuba, you can live a peaceful life (as compared to the rat race in canada). Well, to fast forward, the happy, sweet, romantic man, became increasingly ‘sad’, complaining always of every little condition in cuba. He knew from the beginning that i had no plans to bring him to canada anytime soon (i had just sponsored a mexican man, to be a good human, so i couldn’t bring him now even if i wanted to)…. Even after bringing up his (and his dads) standards of living, it was never enough… “thanks amor……but blah blah” was what i heard more and more. Then right after my last trip there, i get a message he asking me to send him $, (after spending $ on a fridge, tv, computer, over a few years time). I said i could not, after looking into how difficult it is to send $ from canada. I did not see any rings from him on my phone for 3 days. I confronted him saying i didn’t like to see him suffer, i get a message saying his plan was always to ‘leave cuba and work with me in canada, so we should not continue our relationship…’ big surprise right?? haha!! well, i sent him a message back to say thank you for finally being honest, now i can leave this relationship without feeling bad in any way for your life/conditions etc etc. I was honest from the beginning, but it turns out it didn’t matter. They don’t understand all the red tape involved in life here, and the responsibility we have to maintain a relationship with them. The best gift he ever gave me was to admit this. That has set me free!! I wrote this to give insight into my experience, maybe something i have wrote may ring a bell for someone, or open an eye just a little more.

  63. Pingback: Cuba: Oh, the Absurdities | Here is Havana

  64. Katz

    I think I would love Cuba if I went there, but I won’t go. …since my dad found a novia younger than me and left his wife of 36 years. (!!!)
    For what? Soon he will learn.
    in Russian we say, ‘trust but check’
    I’d like to learn about the dark side of Cuba that promiscuous lifestyle brings. So far I’ve only read about a high rate of women’s suicide…

  65. Kenny

    Hey Conner, love the blog and usually agree with what you have to day. However one comment shocked me, it’s as though you are condoning promiscuity, and you of all people who have researched HIV HPV and STI’s written extensively on the subject, would be the last person I would expect to condone promiscuity and the Cuban’s liberal approach to ‘avventuras’ and sleeping around when in a relationship or married.

    Earlier in this thread you wrote:…

    “As many have voiced here. the relaxed attitude towards fluid relationships (after all, promiscuity is relative!) is something many people appreciate about Cubans.”.

    If you agree with what you wrote I would like to ask you if you have this laid back easy going approach to your own marriage? Do you see your partner’s behaviour , commitment to your marriage or lack of, as being ‘fluid’ and do you see ‘promiscuity as relative’ in your own relationship?.

    Cuba is known as a ‘Sex Tourism’ destination and that is sad, since it hurts the genuinely hard working Cubans who do not see the selling of their bodies as mean to make a living. Cuba deserves better, yet your flippant approach when writing about promiscuity and Cuban’s ‘fluid’ approach to sex I find sad, since it denegrades Cubans in general.

    You of all people who have researched STD’s and write about sexually transmitted diseases are fully aware of the consequences of such promiscuity which you appear to condone as being ‘fluid’ and promiscuity being ‘relative’ when you are aware of the fact that many STD’s have become resistant to treatment from antibiotics as a result of overuse and the ‘fluid’ flippant attitude to promiscuity which you appear to condone.

    • Thanks for writing in. Let me clarify a few points. One: Im reporting on what I experience, see and understand of Cuban culture. This is a chronicle of what life looks like on the ground in Havana. Flippant, irreverent, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t make it any less true. This can also be read as a cautionary tale.

      Im not sure why you would think what Ive reported about Cubans attitudes/actions towards sex and relationships would be denegrating? I think this may say more about whatever your cultural norms are vis-a-vis sex and what I see here on the ground.

      Furthermore: just because Cubans have a more fluid attitude towards sex and fidelity, specifically, does not mean they are practicing unsafe sex. I think you’re drawing a causal relationship that isn’t necessarily valid. Also, I have seen no scientific evidence re STIs and antibiotics resistance in Cuba. If you have some links, please send them along. It may interest you that at our Cuba Libro project, we’ve distributed over 3500 condoms in the last 18 months to Cubans in our community and we

      And yes: my views have evolved/changed vis-a-vis sexual relationships since living here for over a decade. Inevitably, Im guessing.

      At let me be clear: under NO circumstances am I condoning sex tourism or unsafe sex.

  66. Have you ever thought about creationg an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog bazed upon on the same information you discuss and would
    really like to have you share somee stories/information. I know my
    subscribers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, fel frre to shoot me an e-mail.

    • Hi Cheryl. Thanks for getting in touch. Im pitching my memoir/chronicles of 13 years in Cuba to agents and publishers now. Ebook is more difficult for me given tech challenges here. I dont guest blog much since Im a working/struggling writer with bills to pay!

  67. Pingback: Cubans are Cockroaches | Here is Havana

  68. cindy

    Hi…I’m new to this site. I’ve read quite a few stories which have made me reconsider my relationship with my Cuban man. I try to get there every 2 months to see him. The last time I got there he surprised me with a big tattoo on his forearm with my name….what do you guys think? He’s 37 and I’m 48

    • Hola Cindy. Id need more information to make any kind of comment but from what you’re written I can tell you’re spending A LOT of money to keep this relationship afloat airfare from wherever you are every 2 months is a lot, plus phone, internet, gifts, etc) Ive seen some really lamentable tattoos and they are all the rage here (tattoos in general, not just lamentable ones!) so I wouldn’t be too swayed by this. If I may venture a guess: you have already or getting close to inviting him abroad? Either to visit or as a fiance?

      • jj

        Never trust a Cuban is my motto.I love them when Im in Havana.
        Expect the worst because you are probably just a meal ticket and
        never start sending money unless its for a true friend not a partner with whom you are in a relationship with — El Gringo

  69. Marlene

    Loved this info great reading would love to hear more

  70. ItchyFeetAlways

    Hola all
    I thought I’d bring this blog into another year – I’m super impressed it’s ran for five years. It is also probably the only time I’ve ever read the whole post and all the comments, because all your stories are fascinating, thank you. Are you sitting comfortably? Here’s mine.
    I’m British and have been to Cuba just twice, it’s a major expense for us, a dream holiday destination, the sort of place people go on their honeymoon, we can’t just pop down like the Canadians can. The last time I went was nine years ago, when I was officially single and had a number of lovers but was pretty much in love with my current partner, who has been the only person I slept with all the time since. Now I am officially partnered but our love has run out of steam, we are basically flatmates who cuddle every now and then, which has been a painful experience for me to come to terms with over the past few years but is something I feel I have at least accepted now. Moving out into a tough rental market is another step, however.
    So I return to Cuba, not because of this but to accompany friends who always wanted to go and who I’ve been encouraging to go with me for a few years. It also coincided with me leaving my job to go freelance (I am also a journalist), So I’m not vulnerable per se, but un-grounded, if you see what I mean.
    Before I went to Cuba I knew about the sex tourism, I knew about the people desperate to nab a foreigner and as soon as I got there I could see it all for myself in shocking, glorious technicolour. It wasn’t something I wanted to get involved with. But for all that, nothing in Cuba is simple and easily categorisable. And the people are warm and beautiful and let’s face it, hot. Last time I went I was just out of my 20s, sexually confident and, I felt, reasonably attractive. I didn’t want to ‘pull’, as we say in the UK, a Cubano because I didn’t want to think he just wanted my money. Doubtless they do, but it’s also true that I’m an exotic to them, red hair, blue/green eyes, piercings and tattoos. It was just possible that they were attracted to me because I was different.
    Both times in Cuba I resisted all the many advances for a while before one rum-fuelled night I gave in, and had a great time. And you think, fuck it, why not, life’s too short eh?
    There were three last time and three this. My mistake was, the last one gave me his phone number, and I foolishly gave him mine. We also spent two nights together. He can’t speak a word of English and my Spanish is poor. I met him in a locals club where I didn’t pay for anything for him so I felt that If we had spent the night together and left it at that, it would’ve been fine. Except I asked him to go to the beach, and, of course ended up buying him food and drinks while we were there. So that kind of muddied the waters a bit. Of course the waters are muddied further by the huge language barrier. Ludicrously I have no idea if he’s funny, stupid, an arsehole, a nice guy, what. Having read this page, it seems likely he has a girlfriend, or girlfriends. It didn’t seem important at the time and I didn’t expect to hear from him again.
    After I left his town he rang me nine times. I spoke to him a couple of times and said he must email or text me as I can’t understand him but can translate text. He eventually texted to say he missed me, how we’d had such a great time together, all the stuff which makes you instantly suspicious, but may also, actually, be true. I only responded days later once I was far, far away.
    But despite all this, I am having some trouble over him. The problem is the sex was exceptional, truly something else, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m not naive and I’m not stupid, I know he was using his best moves on me. But I have some good moves too and I’m fairly sure the experience was mutual. I have never been this preoccupied after just two nights with someone, which is a disturbing for me at my age, but may be some kind of transference thing with the death of my other relationship, and not helped by lack of current work.
    Overall, I feel it’s a good job me and the chico (a Reggaeton chico no less -I know, what was I thinking?) not on the same landmass because there is only one way that shit would go down, and I’m fairly sure it would be painful all around. If he’s hoping to be looked after, then he would be disappointed, as I can barely afford to look after myself. If I was hoping for some new and interesting life, then I would be disappointed, as securing a work permit for Cuba seems very difficult. Yes I looked into it, for my own reasons, before I met him.
    So basically the best case scenario would be if he never emails me and the whole aventura becomes just a cosy memory. Still, I check my email with indecent regularity like a muppet and start Googling terms like ‘relationships with a Cuban’ and so I ended up here, and I feel a whole lot better now I have.
    THANK YOU.
    I really hope you enjoyed my saluatory tale, if you made it all the way to the end. I really enjoyed getting some perspective from you all to help me sort my head out.
    No es facil. Onwards and Upwards 🙂

    • I hear you…in my historic times was in the same situation..i am not surr how old were you but i was in my thirties terrible breakup..then went to cuba and met a cuban software developer who didt speak english i never spoke spanish….i just let it happen to me…i used google translate for 1 year and spoke over emails..went there every 3 months. He patienly watched me learb spanish..but did not learb english…i still loved the experience..i took it for the knowledge it brought to my life, for the new things i started to appreciate…fir the language thst after 3 years i am now fluent in, for the ballets i watched in havana, for the android app we created together, for the fun sex…and lots of humour, jokes that perpetreted even through the language barrier..i loved the process..the result was expected…but i still do not regret the process..how my life became richer and the stress went away…

      • ItchyFeetAlways

        Well that’s positive at least. I am learning Spanish. The Chico is still there and still maintains he misses and wants me. He still hasn’t emailed me though, so not feeling he’s too serious. But why should anyone be serious after two nights? On the plus side I feel more confident he’s not a player, since I feel such would have managed an email by now. I still don’t know who he is. I still haven’t managed to forget him, despite the whole thing being just ridiculous. I guess everyone wants to feel wanted, don’t they? Even if it’s from someone of no practical use on the other side of the world. Is your creation a language translation app that works without an internet connection by any chance?

      • Hola. I don’t have a language translation app (that would be kind of disastrous as Im no translator – I leave that to the professionals!) Thanks for reading and happy travels

  71. Lily

    Do you know where I can get information on divorce procedures in Cuba, while living out of the country? I know the process is simple if you are in the country. My fiancee is Cuban, lives in the US, and is in the process of getting his greencard and can’t travel at the moment. He married very young in Cuba, they broke up once he was in US, and learned that she cheated on him. His wife refuses to get him a divorce because she sees him as a ticket to bring her over. Is it possible to get a divorce, por rebeldia while living out of the country?

    • Hi Lily – I have no experience with this but am pretty sure it is not possible if both parties are not in Cuba. Anyway, why does it matter? If you’re going to get hitched in the USA, the Cuban marriage has no legal bearing. Good luck!

      • Lily

        I read somewhere, that USA recognizes valid marriages from other countries, as valid in the USA.

        However, it seems his marriage was never registered in Cuba, so he legally was never married. Ha. His status is single in Cuba.

        As an American married to a Cuban, how are you dealing or dealt with the culture clashes, with your significant other. It’s been a HUGE learning curve, for both of us (he’s been in the USA for 7 years now–but hasn’t really assimilated or been exposed to certain things until being with me. His family as well), but our couples therapy is helping –however, it’s alot to work through. It’s very frustrating at times, our cultural clashes and Cuban men have a tendency to want to boss you around, narrow minded, celosos (Ay DIOS!) and growing up as someone very independent in the USA, even with a Costa Rican/Puerto Rican background, it’s challenging. Just curious how you deal with it or manage it.

      • I’ve written quite a bit about culture clashes specifically regarding mixed cuban-foreigner marriages. If you poke about on this blog you’ll find some info but it can really be summed up in two ever-popular cuban dichos: no es facil and la luchita, nunca se acaba. Any marriage is hard work, but I believe cross cultural marriages are particularly tricky given all the different factors at play. Couples therapy can help (but again — whatever therpaist probably has very little direct experience with cubans, which are a unique lot, and this can affect the level of insight/understanding) and there are some good books out there too on navigating the waters of a bi-cultural marriage. I wish you luch!

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  73. julissa quero

    Thank you so much for posting your story. I hate to say it, but i just came back from cuba and I am smitten. it kind of scary now after reading every comment on here. my parents are from the Dominican republic and from experience, every Dominican man cheats as well. Ill be honest and admit that im slightly confused at the fact that he has never asked me for money and is perfectly fine with me moving out there if it meant thats how we could be together. My two friends and I met him our first night in Havana. He was our server at our restaurant. And for the next 4 days he spend it with us driving us and taking us everywhere. To make things more magical on our last night there he stopped at a bakery, bought me a cake and they sang me happy Birthday in el malicon at 3am. These two men walking with a guitar stopped by us and played chan chan while we both danced. I dont know what to do now hahahaha. But my dream is to buy a house out there and open a bed and breakfast. I hope you and your husband are still together.

    • Mark

      I have been to Cuba many times and as a man my experience confirms this article. Many Cuban men have showed me their latest tourist love interest as well as their current Cuban girlfriends. Last time when I was there a Cuban showed me a picture of his (older) california girlfriend who was about to send him $100K to buy a house. A few swipes later he showed me a picture of his young hot Cuban girlfriend (I assume she is in on it). Often they do have several foreign girlfriends and they end up with whoever manages to get them out of the country first. I assume there must be faithful Cuban men somewhere but so far I have met none. Maybe because I mostly move around the music/dance/tourist scene.
      What puzzles me the most is that even Cuban women still believe the lies of their men. It must be a woman-thing to ignore all the red flags and believe in true love, but of course there are also plenty of tourist men who get duped.
      Good luck you all and keep your thinking caps on.

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  78. haibowang628073127

    Hello, Dear Conner: I am surprised to find that this post has been going on for 6 years!!! Many others just lasted till 2010 or 12, then were closed or lost.

    I read Connergo’s tale and I liked it. The blog is of good quality with many interesting subjects, such as this one.

    I read all the comments. They are quite interesting.

    I am a Chinese Canadian who moved to Montreal from Southwest China around 2000, so I’ve been living and working in Montréal for 17 years. I studied English Language and Literature as my major in China and worked in Montréal in Real Estate Brokerage/Financing/mutual fund-Investment. I love music and dancing, and I thought my previous soul was una latina.

    I think “Time” is a very important notion when we see things.

    Almost all the comments here seem to naturally view Cuba society as if it was in the present time, the same time as the commenters. Time is a weird thing and most intriguing. I came from China, lived in another time ( just like North Korea still now) comparing to Europe and North America. From my life experiences of living in two different countries/cultures in different times ( though strictly in the same time-I travel to China every year ), I am just so amazed how people of different nations live in different places, but NOT really in the same time or era.

    Each society in its era has its own system, with time, the system evolves on its own track.

    Cuba is 90 km away from US, yet their social systems are so different and they evolve so differently on their own tracks. With 58 years of separation from the powerful western world, Cuba has stayed in the past with its mixed cultures of Ethnic groups, Spain and Africa, struggling to exit with its seriously insufficient infrastructure, with crumbling buildings and insufficient provisions.

    Their people have to do WHATEVER they can to stay alive, I mean, ALIVE! Life without fun can not be called ALIVE. So they have been trying to stay alive having some fun at the same time, music, dances, and of course, using their bodies and idle time, with their own people and, with the foreigners. Their value is not focused on morality such as “being faithful”( it seems that it had no fundamental value to them). It’s a survival matter. Of course, not as bad as those African slaves centuries ago, but as desperate frogs struggling in a dry well trying to get out. They are not only lack of water and food, but helplessly bored with lack of knowledge of the outside world( maybe it’s also a good thing that they don’t have to deal with the western Fake news as you mentioned in her new post) and a career ( maybe it’s only our idea, our value to be faithful and to have a career to be happy).

    So, in my eyes, going from one different society to another like Cuba, expecting people to understand your moral system, and behave like one of your own people is just like expecting a fairy tale to happen: a human princess kisses a frog and it turns into a handsome prince- HER Prince who understands her system and behaves just like what she expects. It’s a fairy tale.

    I also think that the sense of happiness is an important factor.

    We have been running around all these 70,000 years trying to be safe and happy. Wanting to be happy has been our eventual goal of life after being secured(most of us), yet the sense of happiness has been a ghost playing his whimsical games with us humans and laughing at us in the dark.

    Outsiders who have been looking for their happiness or re-writing their own fairy tale have boarded a ship onto a rocky sea where the game of hide and seek for the sense of happiness is also played from the cubans on the bottom of the sea ( they have the right to the game). Both sides got on a dangerous journey with many westerners ended up heart broken or even financially bankrupt, and many cubans disillusioned. I read blogs and blogs where westerners cried for their injuries, but never read any blog where the cubans cried because they are also hurt. On a journey which concerns both, no one is luckier than the other. Happy or sad, they are in it together.

    I read someone upstairs commented that USA is one of the last nations that holds on to the value of loyalty or fidelity ( not original words). I would say that if a loyal American or a Canadian (man or woman) goes to Cuba to find his/her happiness, it would be like an armless person about to fall into a trap full of unknown and maybe poisonous spikes( I don’t mean the people, I mean the situation) on the bottom, blindfolded. He/she would be hurt, trapped and some weak ones might die in there, unless this person is as smart and patient as the blog hostess Conner who succeeded in her ways to stay in the marriage with a cuban for more than 9 years now…

    I am not cynical at all, but rather upbeat and sometimes gullibly optimistic. I have a philosophy that keeps doors open, YET unusual love in abnormal situations requires unusual insight and qualities to sustain, not the look of it ( marriage ), but the content from which the couple feels HAPPY by judging fairly to start with.

    I congratulate Conner for her curiosity, drive, love, courage and intelligence to have found her love in Cuba under such unusual and special situations! I am very happy for you, Ms. Conner.

    Living to love is a luxury noble battle worth fighting while Loving (in order) to live sets different rules that may have blocked the eyes and hearts of the former. It has nothing to do with the latter deceiving the former, it’s a test for the former, a game rule reading. He/she should have known better, no? lol

    Have a nice day!

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