Top 10…false assumptions about Cuban life

10. Cuba is NOT frozen in time.  True, only 5-10% of Cubans have internet access, but Cuba has other areas that are extremely advanced.

9.  The ’57 Chevys and other classic American cars are prolific in Havana, but throughout the country you will find Russian and European cars.

8. The fresh produce is not like other Carribean islands.  Unfortunately Cuba imports 60-80% of its food because the limited agricultural machines (since they can’t import John Deeres and other U.S. tractors) are mainly utilized for sugar and tobacco production.

7. Picadillo and Jerked pork.  These are the Cuban foods we get in Miami, where meat is easy to obtain.  In Cuba there is much less pork and little beef available.  Chicken is imported from U.S. poultry companies.

6. Safety.  This is an unusually safe place against pickpockets and more violent crimes such as gunfire or drug terrorism.  Due to the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), there is someone in every neighborhood in charge of keeping the peace.  As one Cuban friend told me, “We Cubans know how to stay in line.”

5. Bodegas.  This is the “corner market” where Cubans get most of their groceries.  Supplies are often sparse and limited.  One has to go to their local bodega to receive their ration of food.

4. Socialism means everyone has what they need.  In some cases, yes.  You will be hard-pressed to find a transient asleep on a street corner at 4 a. m.  In other cases, no.  Toothbrushes, aspirin and vitamins are very hard to find, even if one has the money to purchase them.

3. Standard of dress.  Although there is limited access to clothing stores you will notice Cubans are very proud of their appearance.  Prepare to be embarrassed that Cubans are well-groomed and well-ironed, even in sweltering heat and without clothes dryers.

2. Music.  Cubans love their Enrique Iglesias (Spaniard) and Marc Anthony (New York) music, but is glaring how obviously Pitbull (Miami, Cuban-exile parents) is missing.  But these international pop stars have stiff competition with homegrown Cuban modern-day stars such as Aleksander Abreu and Gente de Zona.

1. Salsa, rum and cigars.  Yep, the media has it right.  In Cuba you are going to discover amazing salsa dance opportunities, the Havana Club rum is truly unique and makes the best mojitos.  The cigars…you will have to judge for yourself!