February 18, 2017 · Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
When I organized my trip to Cuba, I did so with the intent of meeting Cubans. Since my Spanish is not good, I opted for a tour, that would have us staying in family homes and not hotels. This made getting internet a challenge, since Cuba has only had the internet for 9 months, it’s hot spots are upscale hotels and the City square. The limit on internet access, made it difficult for me to be timely with my postings.
When I arrived and went to stay in homestays, I found the homeowners spoke as much English as I did Spanish. This made it difficult for me to have the interface I had hoped for.
Upon my arrival in Santiago, a week into the three week tour I was desperate to make connections both internet and interpersonal. Having found the town square, I attempted to get onto the internet and let others know what I had been up to. But I could not. A young man, who was selling internet cards for a dollar for the market price of two, asked if I wanted to buy cards. I told him, ‘No, I have the cards, I cannot get connected.’ He then offered to help me connect which he did. His name was Lindy and I was very happy to have had his help, and rewarded him more than the $1 premium he was charging for cards. I suggested to him instead of working the margins on the phone cards, he would make more money helping tourist like me with their internet challenges.
As we talked I noticed a young lady who was watching us interact. She seemed to be affixed to my 3-way pen (pen, flashlight and touch screen pointer). I offered it to he and she accepted. I then proposed to the three of them we have lunch and Lindy could be the translator. We had nice lunch in a nearby restaurant. Lindy had been studying computer technology, but then had to do his military service, which he just completed. He was now trying to figure out what to do next and was selling phone cards and tomatoes to make money for he and his family.
The young ladies name is Dalia, she lives with her parents and little brother outside of Santiago with her one year old baby girl. Her mother works in a book store, making a wage of $4 per month. The average wage in Cuba is $7 per month. Of the poorer countries I have been to, this is the lowest wage structure I am aware of. In Albania and Macedonia, it was about that much per day, and in the USA per hour. They enjoyed their lunch, I enjoyed their time. I paid Lindy for getting me connected and showing me how to stay connected. And for Dalia, age 20, I gave her something to help with her daughter and family, equivalent to 6 months wages, but for us the cost of a nice dinner.
These two young people were nice and kind doing the best they could in difficult situations. I have great respect for them and hope their lives go well and improve as Cuba does too, I hope.
2016 20 February