Six Highly Annoying Cuban Habits

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OYE!!

MUCHACHAAAAA!

¡LLEGÓ EL POLLOOOOO!

Are all the Cubans you know shouters? And do they always crank the music to 11 à la Nigel Tufnel? In your world, is a Cuban whisper an oxymoron? If so, you know that calling Cubans loud is redundant and the ruckus here is a full volume affair.

Labeling this noise pollution is a misnomer since 80% of the time the noise in question is a product of partying, kids screaming at play, antique Chevy’s honking out the Godfather theme, or the neighborhood knife sharpener making his rounds. Steaming beans, whirring blenders, trumpeters practicing in the park – Cuban noise is a life-affirming refrain, a symphony of love, work, and play that’s cacophonous at times, but more soulful and less discordant than planes droning overhead, panicky sirens, migraine-inducing leaf blowers and lawn mowers, and ubiquitous, petulant car alarms.

Even without this modern white noise, it is damn loud here. Some people aren’t down with this. I get it, but personally, I adore it (except when regguetón is involved) since I’m from a fast talking, high volume NY family; I feel right at home with all this bulla. I love that I don’t have to think twice about cranking Queen or audible climaxes (see note 1). Meanwhile, there are other Cuban habits which are highly annoying and chap my ass…

The farmer hanky: I was at a wedding not long ago (see note 2) and while I was smoking my cigar in the patio, another guest used a farmer hanky from the balcony above. For those unfamiliar with the practice, a farmer hanky is when you close off one nostril with a strategically placed finger, cock your head to the side and let the snot fly. With the wind, hopefully. I understand the Special Period and its aftermath made toilet paper a luxury item, but in public, at a wedding, you need to do this? How about a cloth handkerchief, which are all the rage down here? I do know one thing: that guy and I were both lucky he didn’t peg me with his snot rocket.

Barging in: After a decade here, I still don’t get the compunction to burst through a closed door without knocking. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boudoir, baño, or office: Cubans are loathe to knock. As you may imagine (and if you’ve spent any amount of time here, you don’t need to imagine this indignity, you’ve lived it), this can be compromising if you’re on the can or in the throes with your honey (see note 3). And this cuts both ways: Cubans aren’t used to locking doors or responding to ‘anyone in there?’ raps and I’ve walked in on my share of people after knocking, receiving no answer and sallying forth as a result.

Flushing reluctance: This is another truly puzzling and widespread habit here. Innumerable are the times I’ve walked into a stall to find the toilet filled with a cocktail of piss. My first thought: ‘the toilet is busted’ is followed by my second: ‘there’s no water’ (both very real possibilities here), but both prove to be wrong when I depress the handle and the cocktail whirls down and away. Laziness? Adaptation for the many non-working, waterless toilets we have here? I don’t know, but I end up dealing with lot of other people’s shit.

PZP: Thanks to fellow blogger at Cachando Chile for coining this acronym for public zit popping, something I find so repulsive and popular, I’ve mused on it before. Daughters squeezing their mother’s blackheads; lovers giggling with glee as they lance a good one; friends squirting puss from each other’s face to pass the time. It’s as disturbingly intimate and inappropriate as people worrying their dandruff scabs in public – something people all over the world can’t seem to resist, I’ve noticed.

Phone etiquette: Anyone who knows this place even half-well knows no one can dial a wrong number like a Cuban. If I had a nickel for every time someone dials me instead of the person they intended, I wouldn’t have to bust my ass peddling my Havana app. I’m talking to the tune of several wrong numbers a week. And this isn’t just limited to guys intentionally given the wrong digits by girls who aren’t interested; old ladies, bureaucrats, kids – everyone has a penchant for wrong numbers here. Hey, anyone can make a mistake, I get it.

What really grates, however, is when I pick up a ringing phone and the voice on the other end asks: “Who’s this?” No compadre, it doesn’t work that way; you called me. The question is: who is this? Sometimes these are acquaintances or colleagues giving bad phone, but often, these are men cold calling until they get a female on the line. They continue to call and coo, asking your name (and in my case: where you from?), until you tell them to stick it where the monkey put the shilling. Still, I wonder: was there ever a guy who got lucky with this mecánica? It’s highly absurd and disturbingly pathetic. Recently, a guy was calling me every morning at 7:45 with such patter until I told him I had caller ID (available here, though I’m too thrifty to pay for it) and was going to report him. Never heard from him again.

Spoilers: You sit down to watch a movie with your Cuban friend, lover, or mother-in-law and before the opening scene concludes, they exclaim: “Oh! I’ve seen this one! It’s where the wife really turns out to be the assassin but you don’t know it until the end!” Or along the lines of: “You haven’t seen The Crying Game?! It’s the one where she turns out to be a he!” Incredibly, this spoiling sport is even practiced by professional filmmakers. Don’t believe me? Check out the 30-minute muela that precedes the Friday night movie program Séptima Puerta – the host runs down the entire plot arc, replete with clips, before the opening credits even run.

Got any annoying habits you’ve observed among Cubans? Drop a comment!

Notes

1. Interestingly, the one situation where the Cubans I know aim for quiet is during carnal affairs.

2. I’ve refrained from writing about this event – the kitschiest thing this side of a Hialeah quince – to protect the guilty happy couple.

3. One thing I do love about here, however, is that on the whole, Cubans aren’t modest when it comes to bodily functions: everyone pisses, shits, and fucks. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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138 Comments

Filed under Americans in cuba, Communications, Cuban customs, Cuban idiosyncracies, Expat life, Living Abroad

138 responses to “Six Highly Annoying Cuban Habits

  1. Ro

    Ja Ja Ja! You had me snort-laughing with this one! One thing I find disconcerting is when people start discussing all of the intimate details of their medical condition, including descriptions of bodily fluids, in public — including at work, on the bus, etc. The annoying part is when everyone within earshot chips in with THEIR advice on what and what not to do, sometimes followed by their own personal experience, fluids, etc.
    Somewhat related to the bodily function openness are the unabashed public comments on one’s appearance, which are sometimes out of genuine concern and sometimes just plain chismoso: “Look how fat you are!” “You look so thin — what’s wrong?” “That hair just isn’t right for you!” “Look at those ojeras — what were you up to last night?” I confess I sometimes find myself doing the same thing…

    • JA! We’ve both gone native it seems!

      I remember my first real bodily fluid shock: we went to Playa Giron with some friends – I met everyone on the ride down. One of the teen daughters emerged from the surf as we fired up the BBQ stating: I’ve just had my period (with requisite fluids flowing down her leg); does anyone have a pad? I knew right then that our cultures are more different than I had ever thought! And I marvelled. Nice to be in the puritanical/hypocrytical north.

    • janet

      Leaving the food out and expecting us to eat poison. Condescending Cubanas that judge you for what they are doing themselves or about to do! I want to continue my education, but I got pregnant. I never asked for anyone’s comment and I was told that at my age I was too old to have a baby let alone return to school. That my Cubano is always working hard that I should be working. Several, years later these comments were made because these females backed each other up as I find out as of Oct of 2011 that my Cubano was hard working on trying to keep his stories straight with his Cubanas/alliances since they assumed I did not speak/understand Spanish and revealed more than they should. I respond in Spanish and let just say I was always UNWELCOMED. On the contrary, when much older than I, Cubana became pregnant it was a special occasion, according to those Cubanas that gave me a difficult time and one of them returned to school after she said that I was too, old. Not to mention, they did not like me because they would make comments about how it is difficult to live here in Michigan, because Americans as they would say “like me,” make it difficult for them of their limitations and menial job.

      • janet

        What about “orieta?” I was mad when he showed up in the night, since he said “orieta,” and he did his sly laugh as if he was mischievous before he came to see me, so I was very upset. As time went on, he continued to show up late. I said that I would return to see his “orieta,” and didn’t see or call for a few days. Later, after talking about it to someone I could not help but laugh as I found out Cubans “orieta,” is later However, Mexicans “orieta,” means now. It remind me of when I was younger and my “Rican,” friend said that I was talking about “fucking,” when I was talking about the stove in Spanish.

      • At first I had NO idea what you’re talking about but reading farther along, I see you mean ahorita, which is truly confusing for people from other spanish speaking latitudes. here it means “soon” (or soon-ish!) but in guatemala for instance, it means right now and in mexico it sometimes means never!

      • Um, not sure precisely what you’re driving at but it doesn’t sound good! I can say that here the predominant thinking is that a woman is in optimum condition to bear children between ages 20 and 35. I haven’t seen scientific literature to back this up, but as an Americana-Cubana without children by choice living in a land where children are cherished, Ive taken a lot of shade about this over the years.

  2. SW

    That spoiler habit is alive and kicking here in Uruguay too. For 20 years I’ve tried to train my mother-in-law not to tell me about a movie, but she can’t seem to resist the compulsion. But it was a gringa who spoiled the Crying Game for me oh so many years ago – the spoiler of all spoilers!

    • I’m sorry your suegra has the habit SW! And I almost didn’t write about the Crying Game in this post in case some readers hadn’t seen it but hey – you’re reading about spoilers, you gotta spoil a little!

      [sorry to anyone that hasn’t seen this movie yet, but where ya been?! It’s old already.]

  3. Dan

    Thanks as always Conner- the only thing you mention that does NOT bother me at all is the Yellow River- like many Cubans I was brought up in a place where we could not flush for most of the summer and I always cringe when someone flushes and I KNOW they have only peed. If its yellow let it mellow….. And as a visitor I have to admit that I love the sounds of the street during the evening, the slapping of the dominoes the loud telenovelas, but then again I come home when my trip ends….

    • I’m glad you brought this up dan bc Im also from a yellow/mellow culture after living with sketchy plumbing and water scarcity. HOWEVER, a public bathroom just seems nasty somehow. And it can smell.

      Dominoes get too loud sometimes….I like the wooden sets for this reason.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Jim Conchie

    Conner,
    Sometimes you write just plain fun! This one certainly hits all the notes in my Cuba song!!

  5. Chuck Swierczynski

    A dear, departed elderly aunt and I were talking in her West Miami backyard one day when our conversation was nearly drowned out by some good-natured shouting from her Cuban neighbors. In mid sentence she paused and observed, “That Cuba must be a loud place!”. Thanks for all your insights; I can relate from across the straits. Hope to visit Cuba soon.

  6. Ole

    Hahaha! Where to begin?!? You have hit so many nail heads with this one, Conner!

    The first one is what you call the farmers hanky, but which i have always referred to as a Snot Rocket- i had the misery of seeing one launched into a swimming pool just today, so no swimming for at least a month!
    There is not much in this World more disgusting than That!
    The When to Flush quandry has been with me for a long time, pre dating Cuba and its unique inodoro etiquette- I adhere to the age old Caribbean Sailor dictate ” Here in the Land of Fun and Sun
    We never Flush for number One”

    but as Neil says- “Comes a Time”.

    The noise factor is enough to drive you Nuts at times. Everything has to be played at Top volume, and if two or three noise sources are going at the same time, it becomes a competition. But nobody seems to mind, except me. I Grin and bear it,or escape to the roof when overcome (which is often- I’m a reader, not a watcher or listener)

    And i don’t think Cubanos will ever get phone courtesy down, so i stick with your program- “no, Who is This?”

    Thanks for a Great laugh!

    Ole

    • Im quoting you on the ‘snot rocket’! What euphony.

      [sorry for the terse replies today: terribly slow connection + Im readying for my first Cuban Harley rally today!]

  7. Michael N. Landis

    One reason I hesitate to flush in Cuba is because once when I did (in the bathroom off the lobby of the social security building, near the beginning of the Rampa, the water in the bowl literally exploded upward, drenching me! Luckily, one (and only one) of the six sinks worked, and I was able to wash my shirt, wring it out, and put it back on! I shudder to think what would have happened had the bowl contained #2, instead of just #!) Still, after that experience, I’ve always been AFRAID of flushing–at least in a high rise building!

  8. To me the most annoying habit Cubans have is TALKING IN THE MOVIES. I’m not bothered by spoilers outside the movies, though not everone feels as I do about that. And, it can be ignored. B TALKING IN THE THEATER while the movie is on, that’s a distinct pain in the butt. If it’s too bad, and if the theater isn’t packed, I can sometimes move to another seat, but it’s a habit all too many Cubans have.

    • I was reared on a no talking in movies policy and my friends here are of the same mind, They’re the ones going “sssssshhhh” to all the talkers. Ive noticed Cubans – movie buffs that they are – shush as much as they talk.

      I do remember being at a Harold Lopez Nussa concert once (phenom piano player/jazz cat) at Amadeo. so these teen girls, just gaga over Harold, were talking throughout his entire jazz repetoire in a formal concert hall. NYO! I turned around and said: hey! if you want to chat away, there’s a nice cafeteria across the street. Why don’t you go visit it?

  9. Candysita

    Cono! You are spot-on…again!

    Elevated mega-stereo music has resulted in two generations of hard-of-hearing families with babies being exposed to blasting music on a daily basis. On a recent excursion to Las Bocas in the Oriente I actually paid a guy one CUC to turn down the music for four hours so a companion and I could have an intimate conversation on a deserted beach….a quarter of a kilometre away! The next day I was asked if I was the Yuma who paid for silence and I do not know if his compatriots were happy or upset about only hearing the lap of waves.

    I don’t know which is worse..talking in the movies or satisfying oneself in the seat in front of or behind you.

    Also bothersome:

    -listening to a friend or relative bad mouth someone and tell you that you are to have nothing to do with them for a perceived or real offence, and then acting like nothing is wrong when they meet them on the street. (I understand perfectly the “don’t dump on your neighbor thing when you live beside one another for generations). And when it’s a family member…I say talk about it…instead of stewing for months in a two-faced rage and being angry with you when you talk to them

    -indifference to trying to be reasonably on time for anything. One gets used to showing up for an event scheduled for 9 p.m. at quarter to ten. Not really an huge issue except when an important official shows up and leaves because no one is there, or you are paying hard-earned money for something that never transpires because everyone was late.

    -letting kids play with flashlights and then having dead batteries when the power goes off. In the same vein, letting kids play with anything of value (DVD players are a biggie) and then asking for another one when they break it.

    -asking for a small loan for something they say is life or death, telling you they will pay you back, never attempting to do so (even a centavo would be nice now and then) and then discovering that they have a new t.v./stereo/jeans/perfume etc. And then being indignant when you don’t front them money in the future.

    -constant trips to the doctor and the idea that pills (Cubans love taking their pills) will cure you when exercise and cutting back on sugar and salt would suffice

    -sharing your myriad of health problems ad nauseum in detail, but never telling family members who have been diagnosed with the big “C” that they have the disease. Tell me. I want to know if I’m going to die.

    • OK, if anyone ever thought I could make this shit up, Candysita is proof in the pudding: paying for silence!!! I love it and Im sure the jineteros (and all inclusive poolside DJs) will be working this angle soon. love this cuento C, thanks!

      On your other points: lots of food for thought. On the chisme/dishing on neighbors and friends, I subscribe to the cuban dicho and use it when someone comes at me w somehting like that: se llava la ropa sucia en casa (something like that – don’t air your dirty laundry).

      On being late: I hear you, but Im used to being “fashionably” late from growing up in NY. What I simply HATE though is when people just don’t show/call for meetings. This has happened to me at all levels here…

      Very few people ask me for hard currency/to get goods anymore. After so long here, we’re in the same boat! Though close family and friends still need episodic bailouts since they can’t make ends meet. some pay me back, some don’t….

      thanks for writing in!

      • I’ll never forget the day, quite a few years ago in Cienfuegos, when my party and I were the only people in a restaurant, and the live band was so loud we could hardly hear ourselves think. I finally asked the band how much I would have to pay them to STOP playing…

        Same problem in some restaurants who insist on loud music or TV. Some people will politely turn the music down or off, others refuse.

        The idea that “the customer is always right” simply doesn’t occur to some of these people.

        I’m a foreigner and so Cubans assume, correctly, that I have more money than they do. After awhile from experience one learns simply not to lend money to Cubans. Something always comes up which makes it impossible for them to repay. I GIVE money to Cubans, but don’t loan it any more, so as to save both of us the embarassment of having to hear the excuses when the repayment doesn’t come.

  10. johnabbotsford

    A Knife Is Multifunctional
    I buy a new knife to cut things like meat and vegetables. Within days it is bent and missing significant chunks. Of course a single blade knife is a
    bottle opener, screw driver, can opener and wire cutter. Who needs a swiss army knife?

    Expertise is Genetic not Experience Based
    He/she: “Of course I know how to operate the new washing machine/put together the new stove/connect the hard drive/replace the toilet cistern”.
    Me: “Have you done this before?”
    He/she: “No but anyone can do it”
    Me: e.g. ” so why are you putting THREE cups of detergent in the washiing machine”
    He/she: “Because the more soap the cleaner the clothes”

    …2 hrs later soap suds still being mopped up

    • yeah – the knife thing. Take a look at the tips of knives here and JA’s analysis proves correct: all the tips are broken off since they’ve been used as screwdrivers, levers, etc. I have a friend who hides the good knives for this reason, but really, this doesn’t annoy me. If it did, I would not have lasted 10 years here!!

      • Marite

        I want clarify that hardware stores don’t exist in Cuba and that buying a box if nails is a luxury because they are sold in CUC, if you have a screwdriver is an antique one from before ’59
        Construction materials are the same.. none or very very expensive, that is why the whole country looks like a war zone.

      • Marite: war zone? Have you ever been to a war zone? It doesn’t look like here.

        no hardware stores? I can list half a dozen in CUC and another six places where people sell tools in pesos cubanos.

        construction materials? BOOMING with the new housing sales law.

        Besides being way off base, you’re off topic; what, pray tell, does this have to do with snot rockets, popping zits, punctuality, and the rest of our dialogue?

      • marite

        Dear Conner, I liked your article, don’t get me wrong, When I read your stories they makes me feel like if I was still there… (Which I’m glad I’m out)

        But Cuba is in an URGENT need of a facelift, in a Social, Moral, Economical way.. Examples as buildings crumbling, families of 10 living in a tiny apartment, Solares unhabited….is the real picture from Centro Havana, Havana Vieja, El Cerro…etc. And let’s not get in the little forgotten towns where tourists don’t go…. Very very sad. I’m not going to get either in the Political aspect.
        There are probably the stores you mentioned, but Cubans have to decide if they either buy a needed tool or milk for their children in black market.

        Either way, keep entraining us like you do…. Regards

  11. Wow those are some pretty annoying things!

  12. Can’t say I’ve noticed a problem with the ‘bushman’s sneeze’ in Cuba. For skilled experts you need to visit the Indian sub- continent/ South East Asia where they practice it {as well as hawking and spitting} to olypmpic standards.
    What leaves me open mouthed with fury in Cuba is the ability of shop assistants to look right through you when trying to get served in a tienda. Manys the time I’ve been left wondering whether to use my new found talent of invisibilty as a force for good or evil.
    And then theres the complete inability to avoid a steaming pile of fresh dog shit, which for some reason is always placed dead centre on the pavement and rapidly becomes smeared for yards like one half of a Rorschach test. Nasty in flip flops.

    • I hear you SST. The tienda thing is annoying but a good ttsssttt-ttssstttt-ttttssssttttt usually does the trick! this habit of hissing to get people’s attention doesn’t bother me (plus it works as well as a dog whistle since Cubans are trained to respond to it) but I have to make sure I don’t start doing it: I would not want to be me when I tsssssttttt’ed at a waitress in NYC on a visit back home. Yikes!

      Dog poop on the sidewalk – Ive seen worse (you know who you are Buenos Aires!) but it’s the floating turds at the beach I can’t stomach well still.

      • Bugger how did I forget the tttssskkking! I could never do that as it drives me absolutely demente. Many’s the time I’ve responded with a collection of the more versatile Anglo Saxon I know.
        Of course attached to tssskkking is the nonchalant expectation that you will quite happily cross the road, street, beach, highway etc. in response to this dog call as they cannot actually be bothered to come to you to sell you a cigar/ paladar/ taxi/ girl etc.

  13. HemlockGal

    I have loved the noises/sounds of Cuba, in particular of Santiago. It reminds me of time spent in my dad’s efficiency in Washington DC and at first being kept awake by the sirens, honks and early morning preparations. I slept great every night while in el Oriente, but here in the suburbs when the trash trucks come beeping by at 5:30 or 6:00 am, the sound wakes me up and pisses me off. The bathroom experience is too similar to what I’ve experienced in other Latin American countries, and at least I’ve been able to bathe in showers in Cuba as opposed to the lakes in Guatemala (it’s not the privacy issue, just the venomous snake/water pollution thing). I can’t wait to return to Cuba and experience some of these other pet peeves (because it will mean I’m back with my friends)! Thanks for sharing your insights, they are always on point.

    • thanks chica!

      Im just back from the first Cuban Harley rally….wow! gives a whole new meaning to CUBAN LOUD (stay tuned for musings on this group/event/subculture).

  14. I love this piece…..it just puts a smile on my face and sends me back to time spent in Cuba……I’m trying hard to find something annoying but I can’t…..for some reason what I find intolerable in other countries, I somehow accept fondly in Cuba…….I just love Cuba!

  15. Jordon

    Hey!

    Just planning my first trip to Cuba with my boyfriend for October from Canada, and was looking at the government website and came across this:

    “Technical problems also exist. Calls may be connected to a different number than the one dialled.”

    So the misdials may be more of a technical one than an individual/cultural one.

    Anyway, your blog is great! Very excited to use your suggestions when we’re down there.

    Thanks,
    Jordon

    • Hmmm. the plot thickens!! I do know that due to the US embargo, my family’s calls from NY are re-routed through China, Korea and other exotic locales…

      Have a great trip Jordon and dont be shy about downloading my Havana Good Time app for iPhone/Pad and Android. There the most current suggestions lie.

      Thanks for writing in.

  16. Pingback: Cuban Harley Culture | Here is Havana

  17. La Chica Feli

    Re. the phone mis-dials – when I lived in Havana, I KNOW I dialed a correct number and oftentimes got somebody else. So I think some of this was due to bad/crossed phone lines. But now that things have gone digital, last time we were there (In June) the phones were amazing! Always got through and got the right number. Big improvement! So here are a couple things that drove me nuts:
    – Folks dropping in unannounced (though finally got used to it). You could be in the middle of a meal or a shower or “whatever” and folks who just happened to be in the neighborhood would just stop by.
    – The “dance” around sharing food when folks pop in and you’re eating. You say, “¿gusta?”, they say “no, no, no,” you insist, go through a few rounds of this until you finally get them eating. I used to freak folks out when they would say to me, ¿gusta? and I would say, sure, thanks!
    – Loud TVs! I can hang with most of the noise (I come from an Italian-American family so used to the loudness of everything!) But having the TV at full blast when we’re just a couple feet from it, drives me nuts. But it doesn have an advantage. When you’re walking home during one of your favorite shows, you can still hear it from the homes as you pass cuz the TVs are all so damn loud!
    – “y pico” as in I’ll meet you at 10 y pico which means they’ll be there at any time between 10:01 and 10:59…

    • Hola Chica!

      Yeah, the not wanting to eat thing – has to do with pena, I figure, something which I talk about here and sparked an interesting conversation around the topic.

      The unannounced visita: Im definitely from a “do NOT just drop in” kind of background, but I adore doing and receiving visitas – catching up with friends and family, keeping abreast of the ‘bola en la calle’, cafecitos galore! – and so have grown to appreciate when folks just drop in. There have been times, however, emotionally-charged, work-overloaded, when I’ve turned people away when they’ve shown up unannounced.

      Y pico? that was definitely added for your foreigner benefit: Ive never had anyone say that since here, 10 is understood as between 1030 and 11 – o sea, you always have to add at least 30 minutes on to whatever time is quoted. Ive adapted and was mighty surprised when a friend showed up at 3 on the dot last week: whoa!!

      thanks for stopping by.

      • Quepasa

        Lets not forget “horita”, which can mean anything from a little while to a whole days waiting.

      • OH, but “ahorita” is complicated everywhere in the spanish speaking world. In cuba, it usually means “in a little while”. As in: when will you be by to sell me the black market beef? Ahorita (soon, like 30 minutes).

        But if it’s said kind of offhandedly, as in answer to: when will you be by to pay me for the plumbing supplies I resolved for you? (esp when said twice: ahorita, ahortia), this can be interpreted to mean: don’t hold your breath.

        I got real caught up in this is Guatemala (a place I adore and dream of and write about) where ahorita means right now.

  18. I visited Cuba for the first time this year, and one of the things that annoyed me at first but ultimately found endearing was the way we would receive half the information we needed when doing something.

    Example: Boarding a bus, the driver told us we couldn’t get on yet and had to wait five minutes. We stood confused outside the open door of his bus while he sat in his seat looking straight ahead. Sure enough, five minutes later a woman gets on the bus – She is the ticket taker and the reason we had to wait was for her to return… But he either didn’t know how to say that in English or didn’t feel it necessary to tell us that. There’s always a reason for whatever bewildering thing you’re asked to do… but you probably won’t know it until it happens.

    This kind of thing happened in some other instances too… For some reason, I enjoyed it.

    • At least you got 1/2 information!!! Usually people just give any answer – so as to not lose face. But this sounds like a case of “lost in translation”/language barrier.

      How’d you like the guagua (we’re talking local bus, right? not the double decker tour bus?) A trip, right?

  19. bill

    I just moved to Florida from midwest, no offense but I live in cheap studio apartment, unfortunately there are Cubans here. They have no manners, they are to loud, I refuse to talk to them, sorry just my choice. They do not speak english, they are loud and rude, and I cannot wait until my lease is up, I will move into another apartment, and yes I will make sure there are no cubans around. I cannot stand them at all. I really could care ;less about their culture, send them back on a boat to cuba, they will not be missed.

    • Hiya Bill.

      Sorry to hear your living situation is such a bummer. This may be a case of “you get what you pay for?”

      Also – talking to Cubans usually helps instead of hurts w this kind of problem.

      I take offense at your comment about sending them back on a boat to Cuba, however. Regardless of loud, lousy neighbors, you have no idea what these people may have been through. Show a little compassion, eh?

    • hayfa

      Wow!! did you know that there are loud and rude Americans too, the rudeness and loudness doesn’t define where u from, now don’t tell me that all Americans are quiet and respectful, there is rudeness and loudness and evilness all across the world,and you have no right to say that about us because it hurts, not all Cubans are like that.

      • We all know that not ALL Cubans are “like that”. But there are cultural idiosyncrasies inherent in all peoples/nations/contexts which are stereotypes, sure, but stereotypes exist because, as I mention, they apply to large swaths of a people/nation/context. Cuba and Cubans are, on the whole, in general, LOUD!

      • Linda

        Maybe, its true that most cubans are like this,but in the other hand they have a pure, kind heart, are friendly and always willing to help U if you have any problem. As parents, they are the best, it doesn’t matter if they hit you with a “chancleta”, they give their own life for you without hesitation!!

    • Linda

      Maybe, its true that most cubans are like this,but in the other hand they have a pure, kind heart, are friendly and always willing to help U if you have any problem. As parents, they are the best, it doesn’t matter if they hit you with a “chancleta”, they give their own life for you without hesitation!!

  20. Southamericansky

    connergo i thought you might have been too kind to Bill. I take exception to all of his posting

    • I hear you SAsky. Smacks of ignorant agoraphobia doesn’t it? Thing is: I’m finding there’s a special kind of ignorance you just can’t fight with logic or compassion. Maddening, but asi es.

  21. Southamericansky

    Great blog Connergo. You have a new fan. Vamos a Cuba pronto mostly to study the language. Really excited. I have printed off your very interesting advice to take with us. Fantastic discussion forum!
    cheers. (Are u an Aussie too? I got that impression somewhere- but perhaps I got it wrong)

  22. la nortica

    Is there a name for that loud noise Cubans make at the back of their throat, like they are trying to scratch it or something? I can’t tell you how many times I was in the middle of conversation with someone and they started making that noise! do you know what I’m talking about?? So strange.

    re: movies: not sure if it’s the same now but I remember it being almost impossible to watch a movie in the theatre from start to finish. By the time I got through the lineup and into the theatre the movie was already in progress. then the minute one showing ended the next started, so after watching the end you could find out what happened at the beginning. That, and the noise, and the constant streaming of people coming in and out of the theatre….an entirely different moving watching experience.

    • Funny you mention it…This porcine-type back of the throat clearing is as weird and inexplicable as it is widespread. I was saving that for Annoying Cuban Habits Part 2.

      Ive never had that happen to me at the movies here – I’m more concerned with what lone men do in the dark recesses. Maybe you’re used to having many previews and commercials before movies and so are accustomed to arriving a little bit late?

  23. LuisC

    Hi Conner,
    About the strange throat noise Cubans sometimes make, this happens when the back of your throat is itching and, rather than sticking your finger there, you scratch it with the back of you tongue. This process does produce a strange noise.

    • Hi Luis
      Makes sense, but damn! Are there a lot of people here with itchy throats (and feet!)

      • Yuliet

        Yes, maybe most cubans are loud , so WHAT? Is does make any difference? You should visit others countries where people don’t speaks laudly or aren’t rude but they are violent and very bad persons. Cubans talks more than they really are. I meant we talk too much “shit” but at the end its only that, we may talk bad about our neighbors but any time they need us we are there willing to attend them ir give them a gand. The same with the family. Cubans family have high values and much love! So for me what really matter its what you have inside, your feelings. I can tell U that most of cubans have a heart of gold”, which is rare to find in others people cultures.

      • “You should visit other countries….” Google Conner Gorry, Lonely Planet. Ive written 20 guides, to different places all over the world; first landed on foreign soils at age 8; have lived abroad for 14+ years. Just sayin’

  24. acanuck

    Just read through all of the comments here. Pretty funny to realize somebody else has noticed them.. You really need a sense of humour to cope. Not a lot I can add but I would like to stress the domino game you did mention. It stresses me. We have 2 daily games that go on for hours. One next door and the other directly across our narrow street. The slamming of the pieces and the shouting is the worst noise pollution except for maybe reggaetone.
    I can’t complain too much since my wife and father in law are regular participants. For some reason they are much more peaceful when my wife is playing but it does mean “ahorita” for anything we were going to do.

    One other thing. When we built our house we created a large terrace overlooking the street. Forget about privacy. We are their favourite novella as they sit across the street with eyes fixed on our activities. Any movement duly noted and discussed. It is very hard to relax there and smoke my cigar in that scenario, which was my original intension in creating it.

  25. Thanks, Conner. I’m learning a lot. We are coming to Havana for 5 days with an approved US tour group. Kind of tame of us but we wanted to not have to work too hard. I’m just wondering WHY you live there, if that’s not too nosy? I imagine since you blog for a living you won’t mind saying? Also, what is the story with hunger in Cuba and what do most foreigners pay with – dollars or pesos? How DOES a family spend 5k on a quince? Where does it come from in that economy? Also, and I’m not a member of any religion but can you comment on the repression of religion there? Is going to church on Sunday frowned upon or does it even happen? Just trying to ask some reality based questions that occurred to me as i read the stream. Also, I bought your APP. It’s downloading now.

    • Hi there

      I’ve written tons about why want to live here, what I love about Cuba, what I don’t; I suggest you start with the About section of this blog, and then just start clicking around (I especially like the “random post” feature) since the big old “why?!” is the basic fodder for much of my writing.

      Let me clarify that I don’t “make a living” from my blog – Im no Yoani Sanchez, as was pointed out in this piece. You’ll notice that Here is Havana has no advertising here, no pop up ads, no corporate endorsements. Im curious what gave you that impression since I don’t earn a cent with any of this writing. All my other writing is what keeps me afloat, but Here is Havana is pure labor of love.

      About the double economy, I suggest you check out my Cuba practicum – a series of posts outlining how to use the two currencies here (peso cubanos and pesos convertibles: dollars no longer circulate – you have to change them into CUC).

      Quince money, like any money, comes from: remittances, saving, selling things on the black market, hard work, and loans.;

      Your question about religion suggests you need to read up bunches before coming here (I say this in the nicest way possible: you’re traveling to a very complex place and reading/studying up before hand is the best tool for understanding things a little better once you’re actually on the ground and experiencing things). Cathlolic, Protestant, Jewish, Russian Orthodox, Muslim, Buddhist, Yoruba – all of these faiths have their places of worship, untold numbers of adherents, and practice their religion openly and freely. Not sure where you got the idea about religious repression: in the 60s and 70s yes, but that was a lifetime, 2 Popes’ visits, Fidel & Religion, and an entirely different Cuba ago.

      Have a wonderful trip (and thanks for getting the app: feel free to comment or review!)

      • Yuliet

        Don’t pretend you know us just because your currently living in Havana! You don’t know nothing about us! Cubans are much more than loud, noisy, talkative! We have a history that you could not understand just by living some time in Cuba! I said U before, You have to be a cuban to understand a cuban!

  26. Pingback: Just When You Think You Know Cubans | Here is Havana

  27. lksdjflkdsjf

    What you have is called uprooting. The reason you live in Cuba is because ithere is the only place in the world where you feel alive.

    Lo que tu tienes se llama desarraigo. La razon por la que vives en Cuba es porque en Cuba es donde unico te puedes sentir persona.

    • I see your point but don’t agree with it. “Feeling alive” is something I carry with me always (or at least try to!), no matter where I am.

      Thanks for writing in.

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  29. Well not being a Spanish speaker and British I can give you a few I found since I met my Cuban Fiancee. Firstly opening doors for women. Apparently not something you do. They just continue to scowl. Not one “Thank You”. Cutting into your conversation just because they have something to say. Very rude. Playing their horrendous music (actually it starts off ok – but after the 240th time that day……, the 6 millionth time that week). Thinking you are purely a source of beer. Being Dumb, illogical & self-centred (yes, that is the way you spell centre), yet believing without hesitation that they are right. Treating women like they are some form of animal. Food – not great. Mostly ‘don’t try anything new’. Avocado must only be eat with beans and rice. Why?

    • Well, you’ve seen/had your share, I see, Keith. I havent noticed a pre-disposition to eating aguacates only with beans and rice, nor do I know Cuban women who permit themselves to be treated like “some form of animal.”

      Some of your other comments, however, strike straight at the heart. given this, you might enjoy my post about Cuban know it alls. happy travels!

    • Linda

      So I wonder, if you think likr that about cubans why do you have a cuban Gf? Ironic!!

  30. changa

    I agree with Keith in them never saying ‘Thank You’. Not so much as a a ‘gracias’ after you have forked out $500 for them to stay at a resort for a week. It’s as if that is what’s expected of you, and you should be grateful that that you’ve been graced by their presence.

    Another annoying habit is their preoccupation by everything else that is going on around them than you, the person they are with. You are their yuma so you do not matter. You are the one with the endless open wallet.

    You touched on the constant shouting. I find this very annoying, especially when it’s being directed at their elderly mother.

    Sowing of wild oats, you say that Cubans have no qualms when it comes to sex, ‘fu…….kiing around. but surely Conner they need to be concerned about the risk to their health. STD’s must be soaring in Cuba. You should know since you write a health blog on this very topic.

    We stayed at a well known 2 star knocking shop/hotel recently in Rafael Fereyes. I have never seen so many elderly guys with young Cuban working girls. When all guests contracted a stomach bug we were all given a powder to ‘rehydrate’. The working local girls were all given s sharp jab in the butt by the on site doctor, who no doubt was very familiar with these ladies of the night who return on a regular basis.

    So sure Conner this ‘sowing of wild oats’ is nothing more than promiscuity, and does it stop after they have tied the knot? Found a yuma to finance their lazy lifestyle? and their extended family.

    • Yeah, the old dudes and young cubanas paradigm is pretty nauseating. But that’s work. Marriage and “love” and relationships are something else. But yes, many a cubano/a wanders once wed. This idea that Cubans are lazy however, is something that runs counter to my experience. Sure, there’s a certain set that prefers working over tourists than actually working, but not the majority. Things seem to be pretty bad in the Oriente (eg Rafael Freyes) for this kind of thing.

      On STIs/HIV: luckily condoms are available everywhere and Cubans are savvy about their health – most wont compromise it for a yuma “that does not matter”

  31. Changa

    I hear you Conner. But let’s be honest here, in a previous thread you mention the ‘Machista’ behaviour of the Cuban man and his preference for not using a condom. You wrote about them married and single – ‘sowing their wild oats’ whether married or not. Do you not think that this type of macho behaviour and promiscuity has a detrimental effect on the health of their partners which ‘do matter’? I for one would not wish to marry a man who put my health at risk in this way.

    On the topic of poverty in the Oriente. My friend is not from the area and happens to be very hard working.

    I would say that 80% of the clientelle at that hotel were made up of elderly Canadian men in their late 60’s and 70’s with local working girls young enough to be their grand daughters. Fortunately there was an onsite doctor who seemed to be kept very busy providing them with penicillin jabs.

    We were shocked on one night to see a boy of about 13 call the room of a single Canadian man, thereceptionsit was about to show him to the man’s room but we intervened and asked security to check out the situation. The boy was escorted out of the hotel and put into a taxi back home to Santa Lucia.

    We wondered if the manager who rarely showed up to the hotel, was on a cut of the proceeds. The so called ‘Animacion’ woman spend more time hooking male guests, and on one night disappeared down the beach at midnight with a married Canadian man who told us he was fed the usual script how she wanted to have his babies, have him build her a house, wanted to marry him. This was after one night together.

    Hopefully this type of sleaze will disappear after the embarhgo is lifted and their need to sell their bodies for money is not longer necessary

    Right now the country is tainted with the stain of ‘sex tourism’ and that does not help the genuinely hard working Cuban people for whom having a healthy tourism economy is necessary for their survival.

  32. Changa

    What I am really saying is that based on your blog, from what you have been writing in your blog, the Cuban macho men will ‘sow their wild oats’ are promiscuous and will play away whether married or not. Therefore putting their partner’s health at risk. To accept this behaviour must take a helluva lot of compromise. I would not marry much less remain with a man who put my health at risk

    It does seem that your view of Cubans has become pretty jaundiced. Perhaps you need to spend time away from Havana amidst real Cubans who are a world away from those you meet in the seedier side of Havana.

    • I repeat: promiscuity does not necessarily equal health risk. I never said MY husband was promiscuous or plays around.

      What’s a “real” Cuban? Surely the 11.2 million who surround me? And I hang out with all types of Cubans, in all types of situations.

  33. Changa

    Oh I see, you’re a ‘Real Cuban’ now. You’ve ‘gone native’.as mentioned a few posts back.

    Frankly some of your posts on Cuba and Cubans are pretty jaundiced.

    ‘Your’ Cuba which consists of heavy metal concerts and Harley rallies is about as ‘Cuban’ as New Jersey or the Bronx.

    Perhaps your need to get out of middle class Vedado and leave the guide book behind,(Frankly the last four editionis of the LP guidebooks have not updated the hotel reviews), but then they are writing for Yumas who rarely verry outside of the resort.

    Perhaps you should explore the real Cuba the road less travelled where ‘real Cubans’ live, (not on a Harley) but a camione, where you will meet extremely hard working Cubans who have no time in their lives for Vedado art previews heavy metal concerts or Harley rallies.

    They are far too busy working hard so as to feed their families and managing to eke out a very frugal living.

    • HA! you crack me up. Were ‘my Cuba’ limited to what you suggest, I wouldn’t have lasted here so long. And I agree: the hard working, resourceful Cubans are what inspires. Did you miss that part of my 5 years writing here? Lastima.

      PS – the last Cuba guide I did for Lonely Planet was in 2004.

  34. Kyle

    Perhaps we should start a Blog on ‘Six Highly Annoying Gringa Habits’ We could start with why a middle aged middle class woman chooses to patronise the very Cubans she writes about as being ‘annoying’ while living a nice middle class lifestyle in leafy Vedado pretending to be ‘Native’ while acting like a Jinitera cadging book donations, condoms and cell phones from gullible tourists.

    Or why is the middle class middle aged Gringa using a pic that’s 20 years out of date in her current profile. Lol

    Readers..Any more suggestions?

    • You totally should start a blog (on 40k dial up!). Tip: do your research (eg I dont live in Vedado and that picture isn’t 20 years out of date). More like Robin Hood than jinetera: those books/condoms/cell phones go directly to our Cuban community at Cuba Libro.

      Haters: they gotta hate.

    • Ro

      Kyle: Your need to make nasty, inaccurate comments about Conner and her observations reflects a lot about you. For one thing, you obviously have no sense of humor, and a sense of humor is something that Cubans pride themselves on. Hence the relevance of this blog. Try shedding the holier-than-thou attitude and laughing at yourself for a start. You’ll have better digestion.
      And do your research before making nasty, inaccurate comments on people’s blogs — it’s unfunny, unhelpful and downright annoying of you.

  35. Sol

    Hey Conner,

    Just been watching the great FB video on your page, and I have to say that your son Douglas is such a cutie. Is he single?

    I hope he’s not been taking advantage of the tons of condoms you’ve been asking us to donate lol. I prefer a quieter type of guy who’s not putting it about too much.

  36. Steve

    Awesome post. I’m nostalgic. One thing above all that impressed me about Cubans when I visited: the utter lack of shame, the total abandon. In T.S. Eliot terms, these are people who eat the peach. Besos, Conner. Besos.

  37. Mauricio

    Loud Snorting Women
    I live in Miami and often encounter Cuban women in shops and stores and other places, and I don’t know what the hell they are thinking, but very often they will snort loudly as if they were trying to dislodge some mucus from their nasal passages into their throat. The funny thing is that they will do it after they have made a statement of some sort. Such as “those platanos are a dollar each…..SNOOOOOORRRRTTT!!! Can someone explain what the hell this is? It is so vulgar and disguting.

    Mauricio

    • HA! This is really, really common here in Cuba and it is just what you surmised: dislodging the mucus from the nose to the throat (I suspect most people who do it are smokers, but Ive heard non smokers do it too. However, I don’t think Ive EVER heard a man do it). Sounds pretty porcine, eh?

      • Colleen Stanley

        (coming in months late) I do know a man who does this. It would have bugged me a few years ago, especially in the middle of a close-quarters conversation, but It’s just faaaaar preferable to a farmer hanky. It helps that the friend who does it is very attractive and completely sweet.

        Conner, I hope to meet you at Cuba Libro next time I’m in Havana (November 2016 if not sooner). My travel companions and I were going to visit the store last month when we were in town but our plans fell through, as plans tend to do. In the meantime I’m really enjoying reading back through your blog.

    • hayfa

      OMG that so stupid don’t tell me you don’t do that cause use lying

      • Please do not flame other commenters on this blog. Calling someone you dont even know stupid and a liar across a keyboard and screen is just so base.

  38. Pingback: ‘To Don’t List’ for Emigrating Cubans | Here is Havana

  39. not just noisy talking ….but everything they do is loud. cough, sniffle, sneeze, wash dishes, walk across a floor. Never met one Cuban in the hundreds I have known who had any clue whatsoever how to whisper. I actually think they all have hearing loss.

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  41. John Pierre

    I Don’t know them but all i know is Tony Montana from Cuba his Scarface Movie he was a really crazy,serious and tough man RIP for him.

    • Jake

      Hey Conner great thread. Thing is Cubans have this sense of arrogance and do not see themselves as annoying.,

      Some of the most annoying Cubans work at resorts, and I might add that they are also the best paid workers in Cuba earning more than ten times the wage of the average Cuban if not more.

      They eye you up and down from the moment you arrive, you are visually scanned from head to toe, they want that shirt and the hints will be heavy, they also love your shades and will use charm and persistence to con you into handing them over before you leave.

      All Cuban resort staff know this trick, from the room maid to the barmen and the receptionists. Never mind that the ‘If it moves tip it’ philosophy applies and what they cannot lift they remove from the resort as soon as the manager has departed for the night. I have seen large crates of soft drinks being hauled out to the boot of an awaiting car, this is a daily occurence at the resort which you stayed at in Jibacoa.

      Nothing is offbounds, if the receptionist takes a shine to the husband of a guest they will act as though the wife is invisible in their effort to give you the eye, slip you their cellphone no. flirt with you on the phone. Cuban women have no shame whatsoever, they seem to be so tired of their abusive macho husbands that after they have dumped them they go out of their way to hook a foreign man no holds barred in their efforts to achieve this.

      I have seen a female bartender stuff over $100 dollars down her bra while flirting with several drunken Russian men who kept falling off their bar stools but Madelaine kept up the flirting and the saucy innuendo so long as they were slipping the Dollar bills her way.

      Two of said Russians were seen being carried comatose on to the airport coach next morning as one of then attemped a strip tease en route removing his shirt and trousers. Lord knows what chaos they cause at Havana airport or if the Russian carrier refused to fly them home.

      Cubans could win an award for their ability to con charm and scam gullible Canadian of low self esteem into sham marriages. Several cunning resort workers are renowned for playing up to five women at a time, women who fly there several times a year laden with the latest cell phones, technology, no doubt which is sold on.

      It’s a business for them and many of them happen to be making so much money from selling these phones and laptops on that they do not want relocate to icy cold Canada with their frump fat 50 year old suitor. And do you blame them?. I certainly do not.

      The ones who have made it to Canada are never happy, and become ‘depressed’ morphs in a prize pain in the butt, nothing worse than a machista Cuban man’s ‘depression’ making wifey’s life so darn miserable that she finally relents to his his suggestion that she set him up in business back home in Cuba, so she spends her life savings setting him up with a paladar, a casa particular where he is now happy to resume the single life and is the most sought after guy in the town as a result of his new found status as a husband of a yuma now free to splash the cash on them and their family.

      So I guess it the Cuban’s ability to con and deceive and lead gullible people up the garden path with their lies and deceipt which I find to be their most annoying habit.

      Cubans could truly win an award for being the most charming con artists on the planet.

      • Yuliet

        ” You have to be cuban to understand a cuban”. We are something out of this world and this is what everybody loves or hate about us! People in Cuba have changed with the years. Cubans today are not the same than some years ago,in the time of my grandparents, before Communism! I think the system made that cubans lost some good modals but anyways We are happy, fun, outgoing so We will always be loud, talkative,gossipy but is this so bad? There are many others bad things and people in this world! At least we are not violent like in others people culture, we love our family and friends, we are good at our children and parents. We don’t hurt anyone being like we are, so if you don’t like us you can go out!!

      • happy, fun, outgoing….prone to sweeping generalizations, exaggerating (los cubanos: si no lo llegan, se pasan), drama, etc etc

  42. John Abbotsford

    “Cubans could truly win an award for being the most charming con artists on the planet.”
    I doubt you have travelled widely in the world if you truly believe that.
    Some of what you write makes me think that (some at least) Canadians could truly win an award for being the most gullible on the planet.

  43. Jake

    Hey John, you are right on one point at least. Canadians are most definitely the most gullible race on the planet, at least where con artist cunning Cubanos are concerned. Just check out the stats for marriage fraud.

    You are however wrong on your other point. I am not Canadian and I am extremely well travelled.

    I happen to be a travel writer who has been to Cuba on at least ten occasions, five of them at the invitation of the Cuban Government.

  44. nadezhda

    Whoa. Reading this post, I see you’re passionate about the country and love it and loving means acknowledging its more annoying bits. But some of the comments here are just so hateful, bitter and venomous. Like they use this post to vent on how and why they HATE Cuba.

  45. Jake

    I completely disagree, far from ‘venting’ posters on here are being totally honest. They write from personal experience, based on what they have observed when on vacation in Cuba whether at resorts of in casas

    . I find Conner’s blog refreshing, honest. She tells it like it is as do her contributors.

    This is not some candy coated pr puff pumped out by the Cuban Tourism Authority. This is the truth as it is today and perhaps you are unable to accept the harsh reality of tourism today in Cuba.

    • nadezhda

      I don’t come here looking for Castro’s travel brochure. I enjoy Conner’s writing. I’m talking about the posters (like the person who thinks his Cuban neighbors are rude and loud without ever trying to engage with them, or the one who thinks all Cubans are out to fleece him) who seem to hate Cuba and used this particular entry to just vent. I also don’t get why some people just assume Conner lives in Varadero.

  46. Dr. Greg.

    To the previois poster you appear to be confused. No poster here has assumed that Conner lives in Varadero.

    I think you need to lay off the sauce, lol

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  48. Mividamialma

    One of the most annoying Cuban habits is their ability to deceive and con you into thinking they are so genuine, then as as soon as they get what they want, have achieved their mission, their true self emerges and it is not nice.

    As we have seen in the many responses in this thread and your other threads, Cubans tend to have an inability to be happy anywhere. They are miserable in Cuba, they blame the system’, the government, ‘No Es Facil’ is their daily mantra,, yet other than conning a toubab, they do nothing to try and change their circumstances, so coddled, muffled cosseted have they been for the past fifty years of socialismo.

    I met my husband in a resort, I know what you will think, ‘Prostitutes with permits’ as the Cuban resort managers refer to them and in many cases it is true. My Hector however is different, he is one in a million.

    They are male whores who will sleep with anything with a pulse in order to achieve their mission, always money, relgalos and the ultimate jackpot – Marriage and a Visa out!.

    I married Hector a former bar man and resort worker nine years ago, and managed to get him ILR here in Canada, but no sooner than he arrived he developed depression, told me he was ‘dying on the inside’.

    Nothing I could do could change his miserable mood. He was missing Cuba. Psychotherapy and Counselling did not work so I agree to his decision to return home for a few months. He seemed so happy to be back home in Holguin with his friends and family.

    He then suggested he open a paladar, so I invested heavily in that venture. He also said he should start a casa particular which is now becoming a reality, ready to open this year. It has cost me my life savings, since his salary as a lorry driver here did not pay much.

    As I said he is very happy to be back home in Holguin. I am here in Canada with our daughter, and it is lonely. I was concerned when he did not want to add me to his FaceBook page, he said it is a ‘cultural thing’ but I am concerned in case he has a novia there.

    I plan on relocating to Cuba within a year, I have invested my life there, a paladar, a casa particular and a finca. I am hoping the political situation will change and I hope also that my husband will be happy, and not slip into depression again.

    • Thanks for reading and writing in. As you intimate, there are a lot of red flags here. Not friending you on FB is a cultural thing?! This is a baldface invention and news to me – he IS hiding something, Im afraid. All the cubans I know friend like mad. And my advice to anyone who falls in love with a Cuban (a lorry driver, no less, who are notorious – perhaps more so than musicians – as having secret families and affairs across their routes): do not spend your life savings to set them up in business. I hope your story has a happy ending after all.

    • Linda

      We don’t live happy any where. We are happy in our environment, with our people, with people who love us, with the things we are used to. We left the country but Cuba is always in our hearts. You should be ready for this before fell in love with a cuban! Don’t you have men or women in your countries? Why do you, women and men all over camesto Cuba to find a partner?

    • candelapupo

      Interesting……someone who reads this blog contacted me to ask me if I posted the above post (I use the same username on another forum and they thought maybe it was me posting here)……

      Hmmmmm, I’m curious as to who this “mividamialma” poster is because it appears that someone is using the same forum name that I have on another group and is projecting pieces of my experience with Cuba into their above post. I would like to know who has such close similarities with me AND is using the same user name that I use on another Cuban Forum…what do you suppose the chances of THAT are? I married a Cuban man 12 years ago (a musician at an AI), he has been here in Canada with me for the last 11 years. We also co-own a Paladar in Holguin, we also have a farm in Holguin, however, that’s about as far as the similarities go. I know I have enemies…lol, but I would hate to think that someone is going around posting things like this pretending to be someone they’re not….

      Care to step up to the plate and share more of your “experience” with your Cuban spouse?

    • candelapupo

      Mividamialma……I’d be interested to hear more about your story. I find some of your details somewhat ummm……unbelievable to say the least. Also, how did you come upon your username?…

      Are you located in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada? What’s the name of the Paladar you speak of in your post, and where abouts is it, I’d like to visit it later this month, always looking for new places to eat in the city. You also mentioned that you guys are opening a CP this year, where abouts is it and is it open yet?

      Thanks in advance

  49. ThatGirlThatDoesThatThing

    My Cuban MIL is not only loud, but she never shuts up. Never. Shuts. Up. NEVER. SHUTS. UP.

    I also feel like, because I’m white American, she thinks I’m stupid. All week she’s been “teaching” me how to hold a baby and pat them on the back simultaneously. And she talks about it like its some crazy discovery that only she knows.

    I love my Cuban husband. I tolerate my Cuban MIL… Barely

    • Oh boy, do I know the type. does she live with you?! you make like another post which speaks directly to this notion that Cubans know EVERYTHING and you know NOTHING: Cuba: Independent SREpublic of Saben lo Todo. Congrats on the baby!

  50. Pingback: In the Summer, In the City | Here is Havana

  51. Pingback: In the Summer, In the City | Cuba on Time

  52. Emily

    To Linda,

    Your post is very patronising and arrogant in the extreme. You ask why Yumas do not find partners in their own country, perhaps they have done, but none are so persuasive, charming or romantic as the Cuban con man or women who spins them the B.S. script of ‘Mi Mangita’ ‘Tia Amo’ Mi Amor’ Some Canadian men and women do fall for and believe this bulll……it. and believe me it is bull s….it.

    We do discover this is b.s. only after we have spent a fortune importing these con men/scammers and con women/scammers in to Canada. Only to discover not only are they unhappy pissed off in Cuba, they are equally as pissed off and unhappy in Ottawa Montreal Quebec.etc.

    The bottom line is Cubans are not happy anywhere in the world. they have been cosseted by the socialismo/raciones culture of Cuba since birth, they are not eager to work for a living as in WORK the four letter work to survival , they prefer to lay back on their lazy asses and rely on and denegrade obese low self esteem obese Canadian women in their 50’s who spend their life savings to fly their lazy butts out of Cuba to Canada only to find their Cuban male whores are not happy in Canada, it is too cold tey are ‘dying on the inside’ they want to go home.

    Puleeeeese do me a favour, get a frigging life for f…s sake, You do not have Moscow now to bale you out, it is time to get your lazy butts and work, Yes that 4 letter word WORK for a living! just like we do in the Western world.

  53. Lily

    Hey Conner, love your blog and it’s only a question of time before a publisher snaps it up, don’t give up!

    Sorry to hear about the trials and tribulations of summer in Havana, it’s hot enough in January I hate to think how it is right now, and with fewer tourists there the jiniteros must be on full throttle annoying the few who are there.

    On the topic of annoying habits, I think for me it was seeing my b/f clear his throat and land the most enormous line of slimy green phlemgh in the sea when we were swimming. I felt disgusted, and I realised then that here was a man who lacked even the basic social etiquette or respect for the woman he was with if he could do that,

    It was also his obsession with his Samsung Galaxy, (he owned three) how he never took his eyes off that phone, it seemed to dictate his life, and his childish outbursts followed by a lecture when I would dare to ask who had just called, that it sounded like a woman not a man as he had said.

    I was constantly made to feel I was somehow imbesilic for daring to question his integrity or authority. We are talking about a very spoiled mommy’s boy, 48 going on 14, the little boy who would scream and shout when he could not get his own way. The selfish narcissist who would use his poor mom to the ninth degree, a poor old lady in her late 70’s hobbling around suffering from thrombosis of the leg, he doctor overseas ‘on a mission’ and no access to even the basic meds such as a daily aspirin.

    A sweet kind lady whom he would run rings round, she clearly doted on his, served him hand and foot, did his laundry, cooked for him, cleaned their small apartment that had not seen a coat of paint in over twenty years.

    Here is a man who witnessed domestic violence in his childhood, and who had learned this pattern of abuse, grown up to be a domineering bully. A spoilt brat who’s bedroom was crammed with the latest sports shoes and shirts yet had the cheek to demand a pair of sneakers when I next returned, despite the fact he could not fit one more pair of shoes in his room. Not sure if hoarding is a Cuban thing but boy this this guy hoard.

    I could go on Conner but I learnt to really despise this selfish man who in the beginning was charm personified. I think it was the line of phlemgh that landed not too far from where I was swimming, and the fact that he let me see the scribbled down cellphone no. on a piece of paper slipped to him by the (married) puta who pretends to be the PR at a hotel I had paid for us to stay at.

  54. Emily

    Conner I would not say I’ve particularly ‘had a rough go of it’, I can assure you I am not the only one to have experienced this bad attitude, the lazy gimme something for nothing mentality of the Cuban who having manipulated a yuma into procuring him/her a visa and flight out, is never happy or content, and work does appear to be an alien concept to those who have been raised with the principles of ‘socialismo’.

    All of this is having an effect on tourist numbers. Sure they may not have the same access to guns which other Caribbean countries have and the murder rates are lower, but the crimes the scams the general attitude prevails and it is having a knock on effect.

    Walk around any town in Cuba today, (especially in the Oriente) how many men are actually doing an honest day’s work? . You will see lots of them playing dominos, sitting around in bars chatting, putting the world to rights, swilling back crystals and rum on the beaches of Playa Este and throwing the cans and burger wrappers on the beach leaving it piled high with trash.You walk past cafes where the men have gathered, bellies hanging out, smoking, drinking, watching the game on t.v. shouting, very few actually working.

    If you have ever stayed at a hotel in Cuba you will observe how all hell breaks loose when they visit for the day. The reggaethon is blasted out, pumped up to ear splitting levels, the burgers and pizzas are stuffed into their bags, what hey cannot gorge on they take home.

    They never ever clear up after their gorging, the toilets are left overflowing and blocked. I feel sorry for the staff who have to clean up after them.

    You say that ‘happy breeds happy’ and I agree, but we all, regardless of our race or nationality have a responsibility to our fellow humans, and to the Cuban the general mindset/attitude is grab all that you can and to hell with anyone else, it is trample over your best friend/family member in order to achieve what you can get, gorge yourself like it’s your last meal on earth, until you cannot eat any more, chuck the garbage, let someone else deal with it.

    Tourists work hard for their money, already they are voting with their wallet, they are choosing to spend their hard earned cash elsewhere, where ‘happy really does breed happy’ and the locals are not hellbent on scamming and hystling you for every last dime.

    They will choose a destination where they are not seen as a walking wallet, a hotel where when locals descend they are not subjects to a mountain of trash and ear splitting noise.

    How happy are you in Havana right now Conner?

  55. Brad

    In reply to your ‘Happy Breeds Happy’ comment, which I find to be glib and patronising to the poster who made the comment.

    Surely a person’s surroundings, living conditions play a part in their ‘happiness’. If you’re trying to survive in 100 deg sweltering heat in cramped conditions and you are beaten for speaking about it, how ‘happy’ would you be Conner?

    How ‘happy’ is this resident of Havana – Sahira Castro, who was brutally assaulted by a government supporting thug for daring to speak to a camera about trying to survive during the continual power cuts.

    As the saying goes, ‘let me walk in that person’s shoes before I judge them’. We never know a person’s experience, and I would say it is damn difficult to be ‘happy’ right now in Cuba when you consider how limited their lives are while having to cope with constant power cuts.

    https://www.facebook.com/yusnaby/

    • Sorry for the platitude, but this was in direct response to this disrespectful tirade and generalization in the extreme by another reader: “The bottom line is Cubans are not happy anywhere in the world. they have been cosseted by the socialismo/raciones culture of Cuba since birth, they are not eager to work for a living…they prefer to lay back on their lazy asses and rely on and denegrade obese low self esteem obese Canadian women in their 50’s who spend their life savings to fly their lazy butts out of Cuba to Canada only to find their Cuban male whores are not happy in Canada”

  56. Dan

    Conner you say ‘Happy Breeds Happy’ !

    But lets be honest Conner.

    How ‘Happy’ are the Cuban people right now.

    Last week a lady seemed to loose the plot in sheer anger and went on a rampage through the streets of Havana shouting about the stresses of not having power in her apartment, not able to cook, no light, no hot water.

    How happy is this woman? Look what happens when she complains. She is met with a punch in the face from a Cuban thug/government supporter.

    Is this the way to deal with a problem in Cuba? By lashing out at a woman who dares to complain?

    Violence against women seems to be part of everyday life in Cuba. The shocking part is, there is no law against it!.

    And you say ‘Happy Breeds Happy’

    Do not make me laugh!

    https://www.facebook.com/yusnaby/?fref=nf

    • The most interesting part of your post addresses policy: “there is now law against violence against women.’ Readers: which nations have laws agaunst violence against women? Just curious.

  57. Dan

    Conner for an intelligent woman you surprise me. You ask ‘What nations have laws against violence against women’?

    As an American I find it strange you even ask that since your country legislates against it. It is a criminal offence to beat a woman in the States, as it is in Canada and most civilized countries in world.

    Not so in Cuba where men have free reign to beat and abuse women. The police never intervene, their attitude is ‘She probably deserved it’.

    In the recent video shown here of a woman demonstrating in Havana about power cuts, she was violently assaulted by a thug in the street who lashed out at her. No one intervened.

    ‘Es Cuba’.

    The Violence Against Women Act

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was the first major law to help government agencies and victim advocates work together to fight domestic violence, sexual assault, and other types of violence against women. It created new punishments for certain crimes and started programs to prevent violence and help victims. Over the years, the law has been expanded to provide more programs and services. Currently, some included items are:
    •Violence prevention programs in communities
    •Protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking
    •Funding for victim assistance services like rape crisis centers and hotlines
    •Programs to meet the needs of immigrant women and women of different races or ethnicities
    •Programs and services for victims with disabilities
    •Legal aid for survivors of violence
    •Services for children and teens

    • Thanks for the info Dan. Cuba has some of the same legistlation and policies in place (eg programs and services for victims with disabilities, violence prevention programs in communities, abuse hotlines) plus stringent protections for children. Between the policy and practice lies a long shadow, no doubt. Nevertheless, the woman in the video (which I haven’t watched and as with all videos, is out of context; I always caution against drawing conclusions from second-hand evidence, especially when it comes to Cuba), as I understand it, was attacked based on politics, not gender. The same would have happened were she a man, so while I am not disregarding the fact that Cuba needs domestic violence legislation AND ENFORCEMENT (and Im not sure they DONT have the former; Im going to consult with Cuban lawyer friends on this issue), you mix a bit of apples and oranges here. Thanks for reading and writing in.

  58. Enigma

    I live in Miami, so I know what I’m talking about. Cubans are rude, loud, and generally disgusting people (constantly snorting, spitting loogies, never flushing the toilet, etc.). Cubans are their own biggest fans, always patting themselves on the back and they never want anything other than traditional Cuban cuisine, even though Cuban food sucks. Most of the women have horrifyingly manly voices because of all the cigarettes they smoke. They discriminate against everyone who isn’t Cuban, they move to the US and then refuse to speak English. Cubans are incredibly arrogant, and since I work in customer service and I’m constantly around Cuban people, they act like they’re mentally retarded.

  59. Clara

    Hello Conner,I love your writing.

    I would like to ask your advice about concerns I have over a Cuban man I have known for the past five years but have now stopped communicating with.

    L. was charm personified when we met at a small hotel close to Varadero. He was married at the time, but flirted like he was a single man. He referred to his wife as ‘Buona’ a good woman, paronizing I thought. I made it clear to him that I did not want to have anything to do with a married man.

    He pursued me through emails which would arrive from his friend’s accounts, then he set up his own Nauta account. A year later he wrote to say that his wife had passed away, he showed little remorse and wanted to know when he would see me.

    I called him on my next visit to Cuba and he invited me to meet his mother, it all seemed a bit rushed. He kept hinting at how we should marry and I could live with him and his mother.

    From the start I saw small outbursts which concerned me, he was short tempered and could fly off the handle easily. I out this down to him being ‘macho’.

    You have mentioned that Cuban relatives will always back up their own, his mother did, she thought the sun shone from him. However his aunt was honest enough to tell me about his true character. She said L. was self centred, egotistical and had a short fuse. He thought only about himself, and how his late wife was never taken outside of the house. She slaved all day over a sewing machine, repairing clothes for a few pesos to make a living. Meanwhile L. was trading mobile phones, the latest Samsung Galaxies and making a profit. He had at least four the last time I was there.

    He is a real hustler, does the rounds of Havana Vieja daily, calling into a bakery, a shoes shop etc. He gets friends to sell items that he has been given as ‘regalos’. Not sure if this is a typical Cuban trait.

    The breaking point was when I spotted a woman’s mobile which he left on the table for me to see. I recognized her name as the woman who had flirted with him at a hotel I had paid for us to stay at. He hit the roof when I questioned him. Another time a woman called him, I understand Spanish, she was suggesting they meet for lunch. I most definitely heard the word ‘ciena’ he said she had said ‘terenas’ meaning the grounds where he coaches children.

    He was dropped from his team, I would think it was down to his stuborn hot headedness and tendency to bully. I noticed a picture of one of the young men he has been coaching on his FB page, the boy is 15. I thought it odd that he would upload a pic. of a youth to his profile.

    In view of all of the recent stories of abuse by coaches in sport I have often wondered if he is capable of it too. He once punched and bruised me on my arm when I had dared to ask him how was on the phone, and he shouted at me to wait in the heat of the midday sunshine when he went to his office to see one of the bosses, I had to wait 20 minutes in 38deg, when I finally entered the hallway of the office he lambasted me, shouting and screaming at me later in the street for ten minutes, saying he had told me ‘not to enter’.

    In view of his erratic violent nature I have blocked him, my concern however is his access to children on a daily basis. How is he treating them?.

    Is there any governing body I could write to in Cuba to express my concern? I think he needs to be monitored, I have seen his nasty side and it is not nice. The guy is a self obsessed narcissist with an explosive temper.

    He has seen lots of violence in his childhood, his father would beat up his mother on a regular basis. So he has learned how to be a violent man.

    • He sounds like a jerk but since you’ve stopped communicating with him; you have no proof or actionable evidence against him; and you’re trying to do it from outside Cuba – it will be very very diificult and probably not give youw much satisfaction. Let it go, I say. If he’s hurting children. there are ALL sorts of authorities in Cuba who will be alerted by family, neighbors, friends, parents of children he coaches.

  60. Clara

    You’re right, not only is he a jerk, he is a self obsessed, narcissistic sociopath who clearly has been playing Yumas long before he met me, judging from his wardrobe packed to capacity with all of the latest sports wear shirts pants, a cupboard stacked floor to ceiling with every conceivable brand of sports shoes – Nike Addidas, you name it. Yet the cretin had the cheek to ask that I bring him two pairs of size 9 brand shoes next time I visit.

    I laughed in his face, and asked what did he think I was? Canadian? or a Mug?. Told him I do not do presents.

    When we met he had the cheek to suggest I live in Havana where he would see me every other day (he was married at the time) and dropped a hint about how necessary a car was for getting around. Dream on I though, you are not hustling a Canadian now!.

    I grew to really despise him over time, I mean really hate this pathetic deluded man who would stroll around Havana Veija kitted out, head to toe in his full sports kit despite having been booted out five years before for bullying other team mates.

    Delusional or what.?

    On his FB page he is referring to the ‘Olympics’ and what a challenge it will be. A walk across the highway to the school ground s as far as this jerk ever covers daily.

    On principle I never brought him a regalo. I would slip his mom some money to buy groceries and a new dress for herself.

    She is a browbeaten depressed old lady who suffers from Thrombosis and cannot get access to basic pills like Aspirin since the shelves of her local polyclinico are bare, and her doctor is overseas on a ‘mission’ in Venezuela or Haiti, no doubt for cash sent back to the Cuban Govt. So much for ‘Socialismo’.

    The poor woman has to endure not only her moronic son who shouts at her for not having lunch ready on time, but also suffers the power cuts, food rationing, and the constant aching due to the thrombosis.

    I feel sorry for his poor wife who must have suffered years of abuse with this moron and put up with it, because she had no way out, her family lived in Camaguay.

    Conner you have lived in Cuba for 15 years now. How typical is this selfish narcissist sociopathic bully going on 50? If he is typical I feel sorry for you, and even sorrier for all of the Canadian women who have fallen for their charms and spent a fortune importing them to Canada, marrying them and pay for their medical care and social security. How they must be deeply regretting it.

    Is there an Association for the Elderly whom I can contact, because his poor mother is most definitely suffering from elder abuse. She sleeps on a tiny bed in the living room while this B@stard has the large double bedroom to him self crammed floor to ceiling with his stylish clothing. masses of sports shoes and his mobile phones.

    I emailed the PR woman from the hotel (who had slipped him her mobile no) and told her she was more than welcome to him but to be sure to wear protection if she did not want to pass on something to her poor husband, as he likes to play the field. And to be sure to bring her wallet if she meets up with him since he never carries cash, (despite having a very healthy bank account from all of his technology trading.

    Idiots like L. are enough to put any woman off from even stepping foot in Cuba again, but return I will, but I will be avoiding Havana, and steering well clear from the Selfish B@stard Sociopath who is no doubt charming some poor fool of a woman into bringing him regalos and believing his B.S.

    • Hi Clara. You’ve spent A LOT of time writing/thinking/raging about this guy. He’s a jerk – let it go and move on. As for his mom, the best places to contact would be the local Hogar de Ancianos, Casa de Abuelos, her CDR and any other family members you might be in contact with. Good luck!

  61. Clara

    Oh for sure I have ‘actionable evidence’ against this sociopath. I have recorded him screaming at and abusing his 80 year old mother who suffers from Thrombosis and is unable to get treatment since her doctor is ‘On A Mission’ to Venezuela and is denied basis aspirin because the Polyclinico has run out.

    So much for ‘Socialismo’!

    • Hi Clara. Ive been covering the Cuban health system for an internationally, peerw-reviewed health and medical journal for 12+ years (www.medicc.org/mediccreview). While his mother’s doctor may be on mission, her local consultorio is certainly staffed – she DOES have a FREE primary care doctor within 3 blocks of her house. Aspirin is produced domestically and is not administered at the polyclinic, so something ain’t right there either. Maybe it would be best to send some supplies directly to her with someone traveling to Cuba soon?

  62. Clara

    Hi Conner,

    Thank you for the contact. I will write to Hohar de Ancianos, as I am really concerned for that poor lady’s safety, emotional and physical while living in the presence of that monster.

    I have to disagree with you on the topic of available basic meds in th polyclinicos. They had run our of aspirin. I met the grandmother of the owner of a case in Cienfuegos who had the same problem, she suffered from a heart condition for which she was prescribed a daily aspirin, and there were none available.

    The antiobiotic cream used to treat cold sores is also non existent in Cuba. We saw so many resort workers at the all inclusive hotels with visible cold sores. They told us that despite having an in house doctor and nurse at the hotel who wrote out a prescription for them, the antibiotic cream used to treat the condition was nowhere to be found, all over Cuba, not in Havana or any city in Cuba. So you see many Cubans walking around with untreated cold sores and when you consider how promiscuous resort workers are – that is a real health hazard.

    Good doctors are also in short supply, his mother told me that the good doctor that she relies upon and trusts is permanently being farmed out overseas, in return the Cuban government are paid for his services. And there was I thinking it was all to do with kindness and well meaning ‘socialismo’ when it in fact hard cash transaction.

    The junior intern from Holland in her local clinic has a language problem and knows little about thrombosis, so she lives in pain each day.

  63. Love your blog!

    I live in Miami, married to a Cuban from Havana and am surrounded in Cuban culture The open discussion of all things medical and bodily private was a shock to me when I was first dating my Cuban Husband. I got a lady infection and since this involved my private parts I assumed that only he and I and the box of Vagisil needed to know. However I was mortified when his mother sister and father all had an open discussion on my condition. His mother insisted I had a vagina cold because of my walking barefoot in my own home as she looked askance at my naked feet. Then a few days later the neighbors who were also Cuban stopped by and asked if I was feeling better as they kissed me on my cheek. The whole apartment complex knew I had a yeast infection. Horror.

    Another amusing behavior is the refusal to finish certain words that Cubans find just unnecessary to finish. Like your reference “Frein” . Words like street are turned into “stree” and the same goes for many words in Spanish which can be very challenging to learn with Cubans. When I was working on a local campaign here in Miami I heard many older Cubans chanting Trum! Trum! Trum! Apparently Trump needed no P- Perhaps he already grabbed enough of his own.

  64. Greg S Stark

    Smart ass, loud, “I KNOW MORE THAN YOU…I BRING ALL, ALL MY FUCKING FAMILY TO EAT YOUR FOOD WOTHOUT INVITING THEM” type shit….somewhat irrites my god damned white ass.
    Maybe it’s just me.

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