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This is money and a chance to leave: why Russian tourists are loved in Cuba

At the end of 2021, Cuba entered the top five most popular destinations for Russian tourists. Now, to enter the country, you need to fill out a questionnaire 72 hours before arrival - but travelers do not need to take a PCR test, as well as observe quarantine upon arrival, and you can travel between regions. A Russian woman who has lived in Cuba for several years, told how you can see the country from the inside - without being a tourist. I ended up in Cuba without much thought: the former simply filled out the form incorrectly, we were not given permission to enter Mexico, and we went to Cuba, because we do not need a visa.

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We did not know anything about Cuba, except for Fidel and Che Guevara, and at first we just rested: resort Varadero, the sea, beaches, All Inclusive hotels. And then I moved to Havana to study Spanish at the university. And here I got to know the country.

In fact, any tourist can settle among Cubans, and not in a hotel - it is enough to rent a room or an apartment on Airbnb, according to an ad in and even asking a question about renting on any street. And then you will live with Cubans and like Cubans: not necessarily with hot water (but it is not really needed in this heat), but certainly - with huge cockroaches-kukarachi about five centimeters in length. You can fight them, but success is not guaranteed: you cannot get rid of cockroaches in the entire apartment building, for example, but you can constantly poison them in your apartment. In each house, once a week, the entire structure is treated from cockroaches.

There are so many of these insects here, because all the houses are old: they have not been renovated since the 1959 revolution. At the same time, Cubans consider themselves very "clean" - because they often take a shower, which is generally easy at + 30 °. And cockroaches are just inevitable.

Cubans generally do not live well. The kitchen is simple and the same for everyone. Rice and beans, plus vegetables and tomato paste, spices, sometimes chicken. But there is always fruit - however, there is always only bananas and pineapples. You can consider it a meager choice, but you can, like Cubans, be glad that you can find it.

However, it is not always possible to find chicken, and never fish. Although Old Man Ham described Cubans' love for fish in The Old Man and the Sea, the reality is a little different now: the fish swims in the sea, but the Cubans do not get on the table. Basically, it is exported. And if you are walking around Havana with a purchased package of eggs, then 10 people will certainly ask you on the way: "Where did you get the eggs?" - just like in the "Brezhnev" USSR.

The pandemic has become even more difficult: there are no tourists, their money too. In 2020, income from tourism - the main commodity of the Cuban economy - fell by 11%. True, because of Cuba's decision to open the borders to vaccinated foreigners, including Russians, the tourism industries have begun to recover little by little.

Travelers often come to Cuba for the sake of medical tourism - after all, even paid clinics in Cuba are much cheaper than European ones, for example, and the professional training of doctors is good! The equipment is state-of-the-art, government investments in medicine are huge, in the last "dock year", for example, the government spent 11% of GDP on medical expenses, and medical education here is at an excellent level.

But for the majority it is the free medicine of socialism. The doctors are the same, the equipment is the same, but there are endless queues. Dental clinics have not had new equipment for 30 years already. Doctors know how to handle the old one: they will cure you, but it can be painful. I went to such a clinic to put a seal: it almost didn't hurt, but it was very, very scary!

Today, the Cuban vaccine against covid, Abdala, has been created and has already been massively applied. 99.9% of citizens who are eligible for vaccination are vaccinated - and "without talking." But Cubans are very proud that their communist medicine is free.

All apartments are often visited by doctors: they check vaccinations and monitor public health.

Perhaps Cubans would pay for medical care, but the average salary of a doctor and teacher, for example, is $ 20-30 in pesos, and researchers in institutes may receive even less. Not so long ago, cafes and restaurants appeared, where waiters could earn even $ 200, but with the pandemic and the closure of borders, their customers disappeared.

Tourists for Cubans are money and a chance to leave. The most beloved foreigners in Cuba are Americans and Russians. The former are because of their good habit of spending a lot, and the Russians are also for this reason, and also "in memory of the long-term friendship of our peoples" (after all, every Cuban family has someone who studied in Russia).

Russian-Cuban couples are not uncommon here, and the Russian is usually a woman. Russian girls are in a good shock from Cuban macho: “Oh, this is such sex! Oh, you can't compare with ours! O!". There are no opposing opinions on the net, but my friend considered Cuban sex a complete disaster. She compared it to porn, which appeared in Cuba relatively recently: Cuban machos copy it and really sincerely believe that this is "good sex."In general, Cubans know how and love to relax. Because they dance: everyone has wonderful plastic, a sense of rhythm - and they just need music! They can dance anywhere - on the street, in a bar, on the beach - and this is the best I've seen in Cuba.

Covid also made adjustments here: Cubans cannot go to the beach due to medical restrictions. But they do not prevent them from celebrating the holidays, as in dockyard times.

For example, shortly after the abolition of the first strict quarantine at the beginning of the pandemic, when the day of some saint came in Cuba, they carefully observed traditions: they took a mouthful of rum and watered other participants with it - and this was during the harsh period of the pandemic. / i

Despite all the problems, millions of Cubans continue to dance salsa. They do not discuss the authorities and do not think about the future - for their own peace of mind. Great idea for maintaining mental health, but not very convenient. However, this is a matter of habit: indeed, you don't have to plan further than choosing a new refrigerator! More globally about the future, for security reasons, the Cubans reason simply: “Let's see!”.

This is money and a chance to leave: why Russian tourists are loved in Cuba