The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is an anomaly: a country that buzzes with Latin American life, sensual music, and abundant positivity, but also feels stuck in a timeless torpor, where the resilience and make-and-mend ingenuity of the Cuban people are constantly put to the test.
The classic American cars—some more rust than metal—that chug past the crumbling seafront mansions of Havana, and the long lines outside state-owned stores for rationed goods, are a daily reminder of the US trade embargo that continues to limit access to consumer goods and investment capital. However, with the historic thaw in relations with its northern neighbour in 2015, there was a sense that things may begin to change.
In this book you will find chapters on the history and deeply held values that make Cuba the unique mixture of cultural vibrancy and political intransigence it is today. We look at what everyday life is like for Cubans, how they get by in a state-run system, how you can meet Cubans outside the usual tourist traps, and what it’s like to do business in a centrally run economy.
Thoroughly revised and updated, Culture Smart! Cuba aims to give visitors a better understanding of the infinitely resourceful Cuban people, who despite severe hardships and shortages over many years remain ever-optimistic and fiercely proud of their heritage and culture.
Cubans are pathologically hospitable, and are quite likely to invite you home the first time they meet you, insisting that you share their meal or stay the night. If you do accept the invitation, however, you should try to find a way to contribute something to the meal, or bring a small gift, and be prepared to reciprocate.