I am living in a Casa Particulare, this means private house, and maybe this is closer to a Bed and Breakfast. Alternatively, maybe the same as a Hostel without the benefits of guest kitchen, you have Air Conditioning and a shared shower.
The old woman from France who smokes, is quite friendly, I think she has a Cuban boyfriend. I share a common shower with her, it is ok, I never seen her shower. She says she has come to Cuba 48 times, that is an incredibly large number, something is not correct.
Havana Habana Cuba Sunday, December 13, 2009
By Andres Hidalgo with editing Travel Gear
Straight ahead is the dining area, and I think a kitchen, they owners have never shown me farther than the table. The problem with a private house is there is no common area. The owners expect you to leave during the day because we are tourist.
I have an air conditioner, I do not use it because it too noisy. My room is nice, full of furniture, they give me a fridge, I guess for beer, but no way to cook or prepare food. I can pay to have my laundry done, and breakfast essentially cost five CUC. The owners reduces the price by five CUC and do not include breakfast, I purchase the same for .50 CUC. Five CUC is about 6-7 US Dollars. You are not living as part of the family, you are living as a boarder in the home.
I am not sure what is up, I never see anyone, however it is a common courtyard area, and this could be noisy if I was unlucky.
There are bars on the window, and three deadbolt locks on that large door. The owners say it is safe; however, the security is still very good. The national pastime is sitting on the steps in front of the homes. I would want a home that has a place to sit in front and enjoy the national pastime of Cuba. Cubans are slow to talk, they do not say hello, unless you say hello first, but once they become your friend, they will open up and talk a lot. I sit on the steps in front of the building often, the owner of the house do not seem to like this, however they are richer, and they do not behave like the other people.
A color television with VCR and DVD players, the room is wrapped in furniture that looks like “I Love Lucy.” They have a television and tend to watch it every night, while their children watch it all day.
Casas Particulares are very difficult to assess from the outside, you must enter here in Havana to see what is inside. The closer you are to the Parque Central, the more the people will follow you around and the more the girls with flirt, or do a gesture to kiss you. The closer you are, the more store that sell product with CUC, and the less store that sell with Moneda Nacional.
In my 10 days of living in the Casas Particulares, I have seen approximately eight people who were obviously living in this type of travel rooms. Today is December 13, 2009; I know there is a high season and a low season. However, I do not know where this is high or low, but for sure; there is an oversupply of this type of accommodations.
The people become indignant when you negotiate; they treat you as if you are a second-class citizen. The owners of this house have stopped talking to me, as soon as I got a discount, they distanced themselves from me, and more or less open they door and close the door.
I have tried to negotiate with three houses. The say no, it is not possible, we must pay taxes. I was only able to get a discount when I was really negotiating. It is not fun to be treated as if I am cheap. Yes, I am cheap in Cuba; however, the overall bundle of benefits of these rooms on a global basis merits no more than 10 dollars per night. The oversupply and the lack of tourist make this type of homes work on by being clever. The game in Cuba is always the same, we are you friend, we like you, we want to get to know you, how can you ask for a discount, we need the money and we are your friend.
I have lived in two Casa Particulares, in this time; nobody has come to the door looking for a room. I have never seen one person walking down the streets of the neighborhood with a backpack.
I do believe, there are Cubans returning from abroad, who stay in these houses. It is impossible to differentiate them from the locals.
I have seen one USA citizen in the 10 days I have been here, mostly I see Europeans tour groups around the Parque Central.
The highest and best usage for Cuba is as a Caribbean Island Resort, and fortunately or unfortunately, this also could if you wish include sex tourism. If you wish to see the architecture of the city, this can be accomplished in two to four days.
I feel the best reason to come to Cuba is to study socialism or communism before it completely fades away. Dictators are not fading away, they just die and are replaced by new ones.
I suppose negotiating or demanding good value for my money is a capitalistic concept, and in socialism or communism, I need to say I am happy.