Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lion's Teeth- The Mountain Goats

Last night we went to this club near the zoo and listened to some sweet live hip hop. I wasn't really feeling going out but then I was really glad that I did. We all went (even Profé and Esther).
So I need to talk about Cuban money. They have two kinds of currency here: pesos naciónal and CUC (cuban convertible money). The CUCs are "tourist money," and the pesos are what Cubans use to buy things at the bodegas, which is where they buy everything that is rationed out by the government. So we got CUCs when we exchanged money at the airport. And things here weren't as cheap as we all thought they would be, mostly because Cuba doesn't make a lot of things so a lot of it has to be imported. So we would go to lunch and get a sandwichfor a about 2 CUC, which is about $2.50 USD. BUT we discovered a lot of little stands that sell sandwiches and such for about 10 pesos, which is about 50 cents American. So cheap! And so delicious. so I'm super excited.
But what I dont understand is how Cubans can go out to those restaurants that charge in CUC. You can tell from the street which houses have been repaired and maintained, and some are falling apart. I find it odd that there are huge wealth discrpeancies here, when everything is rationed and supplied by the government. I mean, I get it because the "wealthy" Cubans get money from family in Miami (or somewhere). But I don't believe that they get enough to pay for lunch everyday.
So I got a little worried that I spent more money than I wanted to in my first week. But I realized that I had to buy some things to get me all settled here, of course. And I was buying lunch everyday in CUCs because we hadnt yet discovered the wonder of the peso naciónal. So I think I'll be okay. Because today I spent 50 cents. woo hoo.
Today we had this crazzzzyy professora for our Cuba en el Siglo XXI class. We've had her before and she's whacked out. She grew up in NY, but now lives in Cuba, so she talks to us in English. We talked about everything and nothing, but I was really interested in the effects of the embargo on Cuba. She used the analogy of a a monkey and a lion; Cuba is a tied up monkey fighting a lion. She claimed that the monkey is still fighting the good fight, meaning that the embargo is a failure because Cuba has survived. And I argued that Cuba has the potential to provide for their citizens and actually function in the 21st century. And she was like (so judgemental) "Have you ever been to a third world country in this hemisphere?" And I was like "Actually, yes I have." Then she got a little mad and made me list them, and then got really mad that I know my stuff. I argued that you can't say that Cuba is okay because of the intense poverty and lack of simple things like medicine. And there is no arguing that the U.S. has effectively crippled Cuba for 50 years. And she got all annoyed and was like "No, thats totally wrong, you don't know." But everything she says is so biased, she works for the government! She was also saying that the Cuban press isn't biased. We were talking about the Israel/Palestine disaster in Gaza and how Cuba is pro-Palestine, except when they get too extreme. Then they just keep quiet. So Whenever Palestine does something terrible, it's just not reported on in Cuba. Which is actually the opposite of non-bias. And it's run and regulated by the government! So whatever, she's crazy.

Okay, that's all my ranting. My roommate is sick! So everyone send good thoughts and vibes to Meg. I have to go do some homework now. I have to write a one-paged response about these two movies we saw, about anything that interested us. Except we have to hand write it because we dont have printers. And he wants it double spaced. So its essentially half a page. Which is like five sentences. I wish I had homework like this in Boston.


  1. i hope meg feels better!

    that currency duality is fascinating. I've been thinking a lot about tourist-specific vs. resident-specific goings-on in cities, boston in particular, but the cuban currency totally fits. I guess 'tourist' isn't really the right word, because often things in boston that target tourists also target students. For example, how 'real people' take busses because the bus goes around their neighborhood, and fake people, i.e. tourists and students take trains because they want to zip from one end of the city to the other, not always of course, but it's easy to see the difference in demographics on those two modes of transport. the north end is another prime example, you walk anywhere that seems to make sense to walk and you're in tourist heaven, but if you travel to some non-obvious places, you may find a real gem.

    maybe in that way cuba has seen an unexpected benefit of the embargo. with very few tourists coming from the US, i'd imagine it's managed to avoid some of the spring-break-culture-rape that seems to have occurred in places like cabo, and cancun.

  2. I really enjoyed your logic in this Chelsea vs. professor debate. You win.

    Also, there was some option to "follow" your blog. I'm a follower now. I'm not sure what that means but it sounds like something I want to be doing.