In a random order, my observations on Cuban life:
* “Come here” is shown flexing fingers from 1st joint palm down
* Cubans point at things with their lips. Hilarious. Watch this youtube
* Cubans eat fork in left hand always (I switch to right hand if use fork only)
* Cuban pizza doesn’t have tomatos or tomato sauce, pizza boxes are a carboard and transparent film
* Cubans always share: rum, beer, pizza, what ever everybody are welcome to have some of the little they have no matter what. Nobody stays hungry or thirsty.
* Cubans greet with one kiss on the cheek, usually on the right side, can be combined with a handshake or a hug. Equally besos or besitos are sent with messages without any deeper meaning than “greetings” in English. When arriving and greeting people you can interrump pretty much anything, people conversating, eating, talking on the phone or even teaching. Greeting seems to be more important. Also kids give kisses to strangers if parents ask so shy Cuban kids have to step out their shells bit more than northern European shy kids!
* When waiting in line Cubans ask who is the last one “ultimo” and once claimed their spot they might wait elsewhere than physically in line. E.g. sit nearby or look for a shade.
* Cubans make tons of different sounds to get attention, tss tsss is probably the most common among kissing sound imitation. They can also call you a friend (amigo), brother (hermano), a guy (pipo) etc.. for females they usually say stuff like “you are pretty”, “i love you” etc.
* Cubans lift their skin next to their nose (one side or both) when they don’t hear you and want you to repeat the question.
* Cubans have a strong tradition with natural medicine and they have lots of beliefs for what every medication/food product does. One thing they seem to use a lot is methol to open their blocked nose.
* Cubans are very slow on everything, especially the persons serving clients. Things take a lot of time to get done. And they walk very slow.
* When Cubans do shopping they are very well equipped with old plastic bags or other multiuse bags where to put the products. So very few stores sell plastic bags or when buying food (bread, fruit, ham etc) from local peso locations at least they are hardly ever even in a package and the buyer has to bring the bag where to put it or you have to carry a junk of ham in your hand all the way home.
* Cubans sometimes cover household items such as remote controls or small ceramical items in plastic to protect them from the dust. The plastic is usually in a horrible shape but I guess the remote control underneath stays in better shape.
* As Cuba has two currencies prices are also different for locals and tourists. Foreigners have to pay in CUC and locals in CUP at some places such as concert entrance. Sometimes tourists are also charged a lot more for the same event or a bus ticket. And it can also be complicated for a cuban to buy a ticket for a foreigner and other way around.
* When need to get in line for an office go wait early, 6.30 am or 7am if office opens at 9am. The same “ultimo” principle applies and people are given turns in the order of arrival. Waiting might take hours so be patient. And even if immigration would be open till 5pm they might only take in customers until 10am. So go early, some offices have certain limits for customers per day.
* Cubans have absolutely no sense of privacy. Not within a family or in any offices. You can be in a bank with your passport, money and all personal information at your hand and someone can walk right next to you to talk to the official who is taking care of your business (usually asking what they want for lunch). Cubans don’t really have much of private space anyway and they are often physically close, e.g. streets or transportations are packed of people. Within a family or groups of friends Cubans share a lot, especially because they are not used to have much.
* Cubans rarely have boxes for their cakes. One might see a birthday cake transported on a motorcycle without any cover. Just like Cubans might transport pretty much anything else too.
* Cubans take tons of princess pictures of their doughters. This begins already at age of 5, girls dress up, get hair and make up done and take pictures that looks like a modeling album. I repeat this begins at age of 5. Then later pictures are taken for different ages too but the biggest event is age of 15, when females are usually seen in many Latin American countries that hold the same quincenera tradition as fertile and able to get maried. And the girls enjoy looking pretty. Every day.
* Cubans use “old school” office systems, most of the notes are made by hand on forms or books. Offices are full of piles of papers and archives smell like old paper. Most of the official papers require sellos -stamps, that look like a stamp but you buy them from a bank and they work more like a cheque. So these stamps are then glued to the paper and sometimes I wonder how that jar of dried glue can hold anything after being opened on the desk all day? Some bit more modern offices equipped with more computers are usually cold as a freezer but these electical databases does not seem to remove the need to store papers..
* Cubans love their sweets! They eat a lot of ice cream that is super cheap here and every time there is something going on in the city they have extra stands selling mainly sweets and alcohol only. I have been eating coppelia ice cream and other commercial ice cream and my stomach has been just fine. Recommend trying the fruit flavors in Coppelia!
* Cubans eat a lot of rice. Like a lots of it. Every day.
* The slogans “cuban eats everything” and “cuban works hard” are somewhat a myth. Partially true but not what it sounds like. Cubans eat a lot what they are used to eat, but oh dear try to give them sushi and they freak out! And the part of hard working I still haven’t really seen while here, there is always time to slow down and during the hottest times of the day it is a must. Or when power is out or computer crashes or building is out of water or something else very typical to Cuba happens. But the struggle is real, it feels like a hard job!
* Cubans know their music videos and absolutely love them! While in other countries artists are fighting with copyright issues in Cuba artists want to share their music and the most common way to get some is to copy from someone who has the “package” a weekly delivery of new music, movies and tv shows in the island. Backstreet boys just made it here. No joke I hear them all the time!