Why is Cuba so hard to understand?

To prove my point this post is written in Cuban Logic. If you get it you might want to try to get Cuba. 

We westerners draw the wrong conclusions about Cuba for several reasons:

1 Observation

We tend to believe what we see. All travel guides describe in amazement how the Cuban disposable lighter repair man fills lighters with insecticide and it works!

That is what they see so it must be true. They see a guy filling lighters with a can with dead insects on it. And it does work indeed. How inventive of the Cubans! Let’s make an item about it…

Not insecticide

The reality is that the cans of insecticide contain regular gas. The repairmen use them because they are sturdy and easy to refill. Insecticide is flammable indeed but you need a lighter to light it, not a flint. Filling a lighter with insecticide kind of defies the purpose. On top of that it is very unhealthy to inhale burning insecticide, Cuban health authorities would intervene immediately. and the stuff is a lot more expensive than gas. So the reality is not what you see.

2 Convictions

 Everybody is just repeating what everybody else is saying. Opinions on Cuba are based on incorrect observations and myths of old that keep being repeated and are never researched by the writers. ‘Cubans have a salary between 10 and 20 CUC is one of those convictions. Nobody ever askes a teacher how much he makes and if they do, the Cubans give the wrong answer which they know will help them get some stuff of money from the tourist. The reality today is that a Cuban teacher earns between 41 and 53 CUC/month depending on age and experience. Still not a lot of money but way more that you think but still not enough to live on.

Not MacDonnald’s

Salary means nothing in Cuba. Everybody makes money on the side, and most of the time they make more money on the side than their salary. The myth of Cubans as poor and helpless people is total B*llS**t. (which does not mean that there are no poor and helpless Cubans by the way)

All those convictions are shared and thus reinforced. The worst are travel blogs. They come to Cuba, make all the rooky mistakes there are and then explain to other people how to make the same mistakes. Being harsh now, there are some exemptions like WhyNotCuba and ASocialNomad.com are rather good with beginners info but they are the exceptions that confirm the rule.

3 Interpretations

Since we believe what we see, our interpretation of what we see is what we believe. Sounds philosophical so let me give you some examples.

We see a woman with a box with a ventilator on it walking through the shopping street. Our conclusion is that this woman just bought a 50 CUC ventilator. But that is not what you see… You see a woman with a box with a ventilator on it. In Cuba there is no reason to believe neither that there is a ventilator in the box nor that she just bought one. If you look closely you will see that the box has been opened at least once.  It’s just her high status shopping bag. 

I walk past a gas station with a friend. There is a sign that states ‘No Hay Petrolio’ and another one that says ‘Aire’. So my friend concludes that they don’t have petrol but they do have air. But I can se a car filling up at the petrol pump so I point to the car and say that they do have petrol and they do have a sign saying that they have air and that does not mean they have air. It’s all a matter of interpretation! 

This happens on different levels. If a sign on the gift shop says ‘CLOSE’ that does not mean that the shop is not far away or that it is not open! Pushing the door proves that it is close indeed (you can’t push a door that is far away) and if the door opens it is not closed either. 

This gift shop is Not Far Away

4 The truth

Cubans tend to tell tourists what they think will benefit them the most. They think we foreigners are gullible and stupid. If a Cubans tells you that he earns 20 CUC per month but he’s wearing new Nike’s, Brand jeans, an Armani (fake) shirt, Rayban sun glasses, a golden chain and a big watch and owns a Samsun S9. The value of his whole outfit is about 30 times his monthly income… How??? 

I can prove that about 50% of what the Cubans tell us is not true and I’m just not sure about the other half. 


Most things being told about Cuba is nonsense. That’s why we wrote CubaConga. If you believe the nonsense you will never understand the reality. 

The double currency myth is just that… a myth

Here you cannot only order our book but you will also find a practical tip that will save you a few hours (and bucks) upon arrival.