Fraternizing With Cubans Verboten

14 Aug

From my Havana trip last May – notes on an unpleasant experience with my “landlady” … :

While the Casa “Mar” was fantastic, had I known that “fraternization” with the Cuban staff was “Verboten” I’d not have taken it.

I am not in Cuba to avoid the locals, I like to speak Spanish and express my gratitude for a good service – by tipping, by presents or by both.

Being at the Casa for the fourth time and having made friends with both the owner and the staff I brought some presents for both, the lady owner received the chocolate bars she had wanted and, for Mother’s day, I prepared 3 gift bags for the waitresses and the cook, they had treated me like family and I was happy, just like sharing my cigars with the gardener.

While passing the last present to the cook, the owner noticed and she asked me why and what I was giving. I noticed she was not happy.

I explained that it was a Mother’s day present, some toiletries, a perfume and a bar of chocolate, just like my present to her – I would tip the staff generously on my departure as always.

A few hours later I received an sms from the waitress asking me to please explain it to the owner again, she was giving all the staff a very hard time.

I did explain it again – but it was too late.

The young waitress had been fired for “fraternizing with a guest”, the two others warned that only she, “Mar” the owner, was allowed to “fraternize” with guests and accept gifts.

The young waitress received a message that her stuff and remaining salary would be handed over to her husband, a security guard at one of the embassies across the street and should not bother to come back.

To me that was unacceptable and I found myself a new Casa that same afternoon and moved out. I was outraged and quite pissed off.

To punish staff for delivering a good service by firing them and warning them, is not just a contradiction, it is plain stupidity.

I had already developed a bad feeling about “Mar” as she tried to run a “European” Casa ordering the staff to behave “European” and being quite a tyrant – while filling my ears with gossip from wanting her daughter to marry an European to wearing hair extensions to being married to a Cuban minister to shopping trips abroad, useless gossip showing quite an ingrained inferiority complex ….

I was able to help the fired waitress by contacting a friend who runs a Casa particular – in that Casa, like all Casas I have rented so far in Cuba, the norm/philosophy is that guests choose Casas to interact with Cubans and enjoy the Cuban hospitality and friendship – not to be kept at arms length like Soviet era enemies.

PS : During my recent trip in August I spoke to Milli, the waitress, and she was extremely happy at Casa B, although her former employer called her to come back she declined. The cook at “Mar’s” had also left as did the other housekeeper.

This landlady has serious screwed her reputation with her behaviour towards her staff and latest I heard she had to do the cooking herself. Quite a downgrade from her high status airs ….

As the Cubans would say : Al Carajo…


2 Responses to “Fraternizing With Cubans Verboten”

  1. Justin 19/08/2017 at 09:38 #

    Wow! . I’m Speechless to read this. But at the same time a very entertaining article like usual !

  2. Taqim 12/09/2017 at 21:18 #

    I agree with you wholeheartedly – ran into theses issues many times in varying ways…..complex.