In Spain a car is ‘un coche’. In Cuba a car is ‘un carro’.
I’m having to learn all the differences between Cuban Spanish and Spanish from Spain; for example, juice is ‘jugo’ not ‘zumo’, and it’s a ‘guagua’ not an ‘autobus’. I’m having to listen carefully as the Cubans don’t say the S at the end of words. I’ve also been learning how to get around Havana and which money to use. To get around, you can either get a normal taxi, which costs 3-6 CUC. CUC is the tourist dollar and is about 60p (£) to 1CUC. The other option is to get ‘un colectivo’ (a collective taxi) which are the big, old American cars like the green car in the photo:
To get these, you have to stand at the side of a main road and put your arm out. If there’s space, they stop and you check if they’re going in the direction you want, you get in and then you pay 10 pesos when you get out.
Cuba has two currencies; national pesos and CUC. 24 pesos is worth 1CUC, so a collective taxi costs less than 30p which is very cheap for us. Or, you can get the bus. I have only done this once as they always seem to be fuller than the London underground in rush hour, which I can’t imagine in this heat, but the bus only costs 0.40 pesos which I think is about £0.04. Maybe I should get the bus more that’s really cheap.
The two currencies mean that if something is in pesos it’s very cheap for foreign people, like taxis and food from cafes in the street. I think because of tourism they introduced the tourist dollar to earn more money, however this has now meant that lots of things like shampoo and entry into clubs are now priced in CUC, so normal Cuban people can’t afford them.
People who rent out rooms in their home like where I stay with Rosa, and taxi drivers are very rich as they earn CUC, but even doctors and other professions can be poor as they earn their salary in pesos. Apparently normal workers earn 400 pesos a month and doctors earn around 800 pesos a month which is just 20 CUC and 40 CUC. The lady I live with is earning 40 CUC a night as she rents two rooms in her house, which means she is earning a doctor’s monthly salary a day! This must be one of the ‘Critical Issues in Tourism’ which we’ve been studying all year..