Tourist Life in Cuba


If there’s one aspect of Cuba today that really gets under my skin, it’s the sheer, unabashed ignorance displayed by foreign tourists who not only see no problem with hemorrhaging money into the dictatorship’s coffers, but see nothing wrong with the regime the way it is. Part of this indifference comes as a result of racism, but another aspect of the puzzle is simple ignorance. Most tourists never leave the safe confines of their resorts. This I learned (although I, like you, had always suspected it) from a friend with the proper connections, who was kind enough to get me into one such resort: the Blau Varadero.

The Blau is a typical four-star, all-inclusive resort. Meaning: you pay about $130 a night and receive not only a room, but all your meals (buffet style), drinks, beach access, everything. And because you receive an all-inclusive, cheap (by western standards) rate, you rarely venture off into the plantation that is Cuba. This keeps foreign tourists from interacting with regular, everyday Cubans, and helps to prop up the myth still maintained by so many foreigners, that the Cuban dictatorship is nothing but a benevolent, yet misunderstood regime.

Entering the Blau after living in Cuba, like a Cuban, is like walking into an Oasis. The interior of the Spanish hotel is immaculate. Upon my arrival, an employee mistaking me for a paying guest, offered me a flute of champagne—don’t worry, “it’s on the house.” I passed and kept sucking on my bottled water, until a Canadian fellow came walking past with his shirt off. There, nestled atop his left pectoral muscle, was the distinct tattooed image of Che Guevara. To be walking around Cuba with a tattoo of Guevara in full view, without a care in the world, is a brazen insult to the great people of that island which requires no explanation.

Once you make your way past the lobby, you descend to the first of not one, not two, but three bars on the property. Just off the bar is the dining hall, where breakfasts of bacon, omelettes, various breads, fruits, and sweet treats abound. Cuba is always struggling amid some sort of shortage, and it just so happened that during my visit, rice was scarce and good meat wasn’t that easy to find either. Not at the Blau, however. In fact, I witnessed entire BUCKETS of bacon being poured onto the griddle for the long lines of hungry, and may I say somewhat portly, tourists reveling in the workers’ paradise that is Cuba.

Oh, and did I mention the pool? Not a care in the world for these folks: dozens of beached foreigners loll around the perimeter while being waited on, hand-and-foot, by a veritable army of Cuban servants whose pay is sent mostly, to the Cuban regime. For all their work, you might expect folks to leave tips. During my visit however, I kept a sharp eye out for “propinas” on the tables after multiple meals and never saw a SINGLE piece of change on any of the tables. Not one CUC, folks, not one.

Here’s the rub: it wasn’t that long ago (50 years) that at a place like the Blau Varadero, you could count on seeing just as many Cubans as foreigners enjoying a vacation. Today however, properties like the Blau are reserved pretty much entirely for foreign tourists. While the regime sees fit to dictate how much a worker can earn, where they can work, and who may obtain a higher education, it has no problem accepting precious dollars from the capitalists it so reviles. And so we’re the servants, you’re the masters, and I’m just plain pissed off.

Enjoy this peek into the world of the foreign tourist in Cuba:

13 thoughts on “Tourist Life in Cuba”

  1. Thanks for this. I really needed a vomit-inducing story to begin my day. And then they wonder why we’re “emotional.”

  2. How far is the airport from the hotel and do you see ordinary Cubans as you ride to the hotel? If you wanted to stray and visit ordinary Cubans, would you be able to?

  3. It is nothing less than modern-day slavery, and the tourists who visit Cuba are helping maintain that slavery. Regardless of whether they are ignorant or just plain racists, there is no excuse for it.

  4. Very well written. But wait a minute, these tourists do venture off into the plantation that is Cuba. When they stay at hotels in Havana, they walk the streets of Havana and inevitably they see the dilapidated streets, the lack of economy, and the war like ruin that is the result of Cuba becoming Castroland. They do see the misery that the Cuban population in bound to by the regime. They see the sick level of destructive, unpardonable, and imposed misery meant to cause dependency on the regime despite how fraudulent, mediocre, and slavish it my be. At the same time they see that Havana was a pretty big and beautiful european-like metropolis that despite its current decrepit state still reflects its past existence as a vivid city that had a booming capitalistic economy and a solid middle-class. Even after 50 years there isn’t today a city in the Caribbean or Central America with the size and architectural elegance that Havana had 50 years ago, that is why it became a tourist mecca of Latin America. Simply put, what they see attractive in Havana is the remaining shadow of Cuba’s capitalistic era and if Cuba could again be what it was and continue where it left off no one would care for the rest of the Caribbean, that is the reality, ok. Yet, getting back on track, as far as resorts go, across the Caribbean there are resorts far superior than those of Cuba and with surrounding that offer much more to do. There is no reason to go to Cuba and pay Castro for tropical resorts. I also ask, do they they still not know of all the Cubans that have desperately risked their life at sea attempting to escape? Do they not know that Castro’s regime is a sect-like stalinist fraud based on policed terror? Come on.

    Do they not see or do they not want to see? More so, I can’t believe that any European tourist that goes to Cuba ignores the realities of communist Cuba when they are no different than the communist realities they had in their very backyard with Eastern Europe for about 40+ years.

    So how do they explain and justify such unjustifiable and slavish destruction of a republic and carelessly finance it’s destructive slave-masters with no care as if such atrocity was a spectacle to be charged for in a apartheid manner. Is blaming the USA for their embargo, not a stalinists regime, also their scapegoat? Maybe so. Ask any of those tourist idiots why Cubans still drive 1957 Chevrolets (if that) and they will tell you it is because of the embargo. Yet, have these imbeciles not realized that USA is not the only nation that makes cars? Have these imbeciles not realized that Cuba not only has no market economy but that under such regime you can’t buy a car just because you feel like it? Are these people truly so f%*&ing stupid?

    The answer is simple. These people are garbage, hypocrites, fags, and sons of bitches. At the end of the day most of them are leftist c^&k suckers justifying the unjustifiable for their own illusive pleasure despite the evident realities and the suffering of a people (the others are pedophiles enjoying the human misery and demoralization that is Castro’s Cuba). They do see what is Cuba’s reality and it is not that they don’t care, much worst than that, they finance it, distort it, and are complicit in divulging its slave-marter’s fraudulent propaganda. They go and take their pictures of camera guarded Che, Castro, and anti-capitalist shit of billboards and put them in Flickr as a joke, with a romantic sub-header, and as if it were a picture of Bob Marley in Kingston. As harsh as this may sound, the best thing that could happen to Cuba is if those hotels burned to the ground and those tourists scattered like the morally worthless roaches they all are.

  5. Fuzzy Bunny –

    Newsweek considers Cuba to be a ‘middle income country’? Middle of what? Economic hell? Fiscal Gehenna? Gotta hand it to them, they got a great sense of sick humor. Maybe that’s why Newsweek Mag was just sold to some demorat propagandist hack – for one dollar? The guy paid two bucks too much, y’ask me.

    Do alla these euro-canuquistani tourists who visit the Blue Velvet or whatever have any idea the vicious death-dealing regime they’re supporting? Likely not, or else they don’t care. From what one reads, one can ‘do things’ in Cuba that would get one locked up for a long time were one to do them in one’s home country.


    Make me wanna puke all over my fresh-shined penny loafers.

    Paul Vincent Zecchino
    Manashoesize Key, Florida
    17 August, 2010

  6. Paul, Newsweek is the biggest and most detestable waste of paper I have ever seen on a newsstand. From their August 1989 cover of Nicolae Ceausescu as “The Last Stalinist” (they apparently never heard of Castro and Kim Jun-Il) –

    to their September 2009 stupid cover of “Is Your Baby Racist” (Yeah, I, like all of us, didn’t even know who I was as a baby, but never mind that)-

    this sorry excuse for a news magazine goes beyond your typical leftist trash and truly steps into the plain shameless and imbecile. Remember their also recent November 2009 “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sarah?”. Really? Sarah Palin is a problem in 2009?. I wish Palin were USA’s true problems fools, it would mean we have none. If these are just the covers imagine the amount of rubbish written in the inside. The sad part is the big portion of Americans that find such trash worthy of their money and time as if this were true analytical news, it truly reflects a big grade of ignorance and imbecility among American society which is the real problem.

  7. That’s right Gallardo,

    Sarah Palin is not the problem, she’s more like the solution to many of the problems we have today. The MSM and Democrats know it and are doing the utmost to derail her chances of one day reaching the highest office in America.

    You accurately nailed the problem below:

    “it truly reflects a big grade of ignorance and imbecility among American society which is the real problem.”

    The MSM has to use Sarah Palin as a target to deflect attention from where the real problem lies, which are the policies implemented by the Marxist, Muslim anti-American bullshit artist (in complicity with the Democratic Congress) that are driving our country’s future into the ground.

  8. A co-worker of mine travelled to Havana a few weeks ago as a tourist (Via Cancun) and brought “humanitarian aid” (tooth brushes etc) which is a loop hole in Helms Burton.

    He described the hotel lobby in Downtown Havana as having 3 Italians, 2 Germans, and 4 Canadians all wearing matching Che Guevara t-shirts, and 3 of them having Che’s face tattooed on their upper arm. They were all getting a kick out of the fact they looked the same. He said these “enlightened” lefties partied all night and kept speaking of how they’d be willing to take up arms to protect Cuba from the U.S. (I guess they let their Che t-shirts get to them) and he also said the group had taken a tour of La Cabana’s gift shops and Che Museum the night before to watch ceremonial cannons be fired off (no word if they got to see el paredon). 🙁

  9. I am so totally disgusted with the American MSM! That Newsweek story about Cuba being a quality country to live in just exasperates the feeling of utter vomit-inducing nausea that I feel when whenever I read most things dealing with Cuba that appear in the MSM.

    Newsweek and Time [let’s not forget Time magazine!] are rags. I remember how Time magazine INSTANTLY went into damage control mode when castro blew out of the sky the Brothers-to-the-Rescue planes. At the time, they printed a repulsive ode to the tyrant capped off with a front-page picture of an invigorated and young looking castro and called it “The Lion in Winter,” as if castro had ever been a lion. A hyena is more like it!

    Sometimes I wonder, can all of the editorialists for these rags be castroites? Are they just anti-american Americans and feel that by defending castro, they tweek Uncle Sam’s nose? Or is there something deeper and more sinister, does the castro regime give them money under the table?

    Perhaps this can help explain it. Some years ago, I read about executives for one of the major networks [I believe that it was CBS] being invited to Cuba on an all-inclusive vacation junket under the beach and sun.

    Is that how he gets them? Perhaps some extra wine and a jinetera or pinquero slipped into the hotel room in the middle-of-the-night? Then indiscreet pictures taken and used as extortion? I don’t know! But, its a never ending source of consternation for me!

  10. I wrote off Newsweek as far back as the Elian Gonzalez crisis. I had a subscription at the time, which I canceled (and clearly explained why). It doesn’t matter whether they cared or not; the point was I couldn’t respect myself if I kept buying it.

  11. Honey: No one is keeping the tourists from leaving the hotel, that said, there really isn’t much of anything around the hotel – it’s a little ways from town – so most folks would really have no reason to leave. It’s a little bit isolated in my opinion.

    Gallardo: Very good point. VERY good point. I think folks just like the supposed “cool” aspect of the decay. There is a “wow” factor without even considering the human aspect.

    And regarding the jackass I saw with the Che tattoo – he was walking around as if he owned the damn place. It was a lot to take in.

  12. Let the tourists eat bacon, or whatever… don’t let it ruin your day. I do wish more of them would step out of the resort to face the risks of real life in Cuba, like that young Canadian who was detained for three months recently because an an automobile accident which was not his fault. These tourists are all the same, but they wake up quickly when they get their toes stepped on (les pisan el cayo). All it takes are a few stories like the Canadian family who took their little grandson with them and had to cut their vacation short to return in an ambulance flight when the toddler became deathly ill and the great Cuban medical power couldn’t treat him even at a hospital for tourists (the nurses didn’t know how to insert an IV properly)… or the man who had his video camera confiscated on his third or fourth trip and now swears he’ll never go back, and so on. These stories provide me with such comfort and joy. Take heart! Justice will be done.

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