So Cuba is fascinating. I will likely write one really long blog in the next few days describing many things.
The people here make between $20 US a month (for teachers) and $40 US ( for doctors). I’ve seen poverty in my travels of course. It’s always hard. I mean, I get to travel and eat and sleep in a room normally on my own. I’ve had people (especially in Baracoa) chat with me about giving them my extra shorts or shirt. You become hardened to it a bit. When do you give? Is their story real?
I also don’t know how you judge poverty. They don’t have AC? They don’t have a car? They don’t have a phone? For the most part, those aren’t needs. You can do without in Cuba and survive. But who is the judge?
Back to Mazlow’s hierarchy. Food, clothing and shelter. I’ve seen hunger in people’s eyes. I’ve seen it in the US. I’ve seen it many places. THAT hurts.
So I’ve made my way east. Spent two nights in gringo central. Trinidad. Cool town. Food. Music. Other travelers. The locals are pretty happy it seems. Tourist dollars eh?
So tonight I ventured to a coastal town 15 min outside Trinidad. La Boca.
I checked it out yesterday by bicycle ( had a flat. Walked my bike 10 km. Got a taxi. Met a cool dude that arranged colectivo for tomorrow.)
I met Manuel and his wife. Casa Particulares. On the water. 20 bucks. Yep. One month salary for a teacher.
Played guitar on the porch. They all ask me to play Guantanamera! Wtf? It’s Cuban!
So I went to the only locally owned restaurant tonight (the other choices are hotels owned by the govt). I sat down. I’m the only dude there. Okay. I’m gonna try the lobster. It’s illegal to sell here. Black market for locals. But it is on the menu. Salad and rice. 12 bucks. Two weeks for a teacher?
After I order I see this guy come by and he looks at me. He’s got a paper plate.
I’m like “man, I just ordered lobster and I’m gonna have this shoved in my face!” Okay. He’s struggling. What’s gonna happen here. Will he ask me for money? Will I give him the cucumbers I hate to eat? Ughh.
So he looks at me once. Pretty much leaves me alone. Sits on the steps across the street.
After a few minutes, he approaches the porch next to me (same owner) and chats. Gives them his plate. She comes back with a full plate of food. He leaves with it.
As I pay and leave, I leave a few bucks for tip. I normally don’t tip much when the owner serves me. But he had help there. He said in Spanish “hey you left money there”. I said it’s for everyone there. Then i told him I saw him give food to that dude. He said like it was no big deal “Yeah he was struggling. Sometimes people here get hungry and need something.”
I struggle with this continuously. But it’s one reason I travel and I travel to developing countries. It gives me a reality check to remind me how lucky I am to not have to struggle for food, clothing and shelter. And when i do give myself a little treat like lobster, I damn well better appreciate it!