|McDonald's Cubano. On the menu: Slightly Happy Meals, McPork burgers, McRice and Beans, and rum.™|
When you visit Cuba for the first time, you realize how we, inhabitants of the richer parts of North America, have been catered to everywhere we go! Even in Paris, my hotel was right across a quaint bakery called Le Figaro, where they served moist and delicious pastries. Right next to it was a McDonald's.
As I realized how expensive London was, and after being ravenously hungry and slightly desperate, as the bananas I'd purchased at the nearby Tesco weren't quite satisfying me, I found a KFC.
In Cancun, after several days of drinking watery coffee in my hotel, like an oasis in the desert, I came across a Starbucks for my much needed dose of triple venti latte.
In Cuba, you will find none of this.
You will see no American restaurant franchise, whatsoever. You will never go by a giant billboard with any kind of advertising. However, if you are to step out of the boundaries of the tourist zoo, you will see quite an array of political propaganda.
More after the jump...
|No, Fidel is not trying to sell you shaving cream.|
When you enter the most luxurious accommodations that this country has to offer (its hotels), of course, disregarding the Castro houses, you will get a glimpse of the effect that the embargo has had on the island. There isn't much importation going on, not on a grand scale like its neighbouring countries. This means an insufficient amount of seasonings, and limited exposure to other cultures.
What I'm trying to say is, you may find the hotel food a little bland.
If you search travel websites on the internet, you'll notice a vast amount of comments like:
The food sucked so bad!
Barf. Never again.
I ate spaghetti all week. Only edible thing.
They're not kidding. The pasta bar at the buffet is the busiest station. It's 40 celcius outside but everyone wants a heaping plate of steaming, hot carbs, with tomato sauce. Mmmm!
It tastes, I don't know...safe!
What most fail to realize is that they do try. They haven't been watching the Food Network, they didn't study in a culinary school abroad, they don't have access to the internet to search epicurious.com, hell, they have limited amounts of salt and pepper!
The hotel has two dress codes. These are not enforced by the hotel itself, by all means no. Everyone is in synch. It's like one giant hippie commune! The day attire consists of looking like you just rolled out of bed and reached for whatever you found, without opening up the drapes or switching on the light, and crawled to the main building.
Some people wear frumpy t-shirts over wrinkled shorts. Most, if not all, are wearing flip-flops while others decide to live on the edge and risk contracting Hepatitis C, by walking barefoot everywhere. Sunburned skin. Drunk at noon. Children running around with no parents in sight. A stray peacock coming to see what the commotion is all about. Teenagers over the moon because they're drinking real booze and no one has noticed.
|What in el diablo is going ah-on in ah-here?! Says Gilberto, the peacock.|
Nighttime is different. Oh, yes! It's time to get all dolled up and go...back to the main building. This is where you get to see the women wearing their sexiest gear, and it gets a little awkward. There will be no difference in apparel between the twenty-one year-old student and the forty-six year-old divorcée, mother of two. They are both wearing the same spandex Forever 21 dress. It's Latin fever! No rules! ¡Olé!
The volume of their voices increases to an unbearable level, and where I'm going to get a lover, I don't care, fuck that fucker back home, it's not like he'll know! After what he put me through, I deserve a good, hot, dick! resonates across the lobby bar.
This is also the time where the men realize that they have no chance competing with the hot Latino hotel workers, that they've basically set foot in a comfy paradise with plenty of food and drinks, and equal amounts of disinterested ladies.
Consequently, there I was, in the midst of the madness, and I was showing a little more cleavage than usual.