Amber on Passing as a Cuban

Amber fitting in with local musicians in Havana, Cuba

Last year I went to Cuba for 3 months. I had a great time, especially at the end of my trip when I decided to try to pass for a Cuban. The Spaniards that colonized Cuba integrated with the African slaves they brought over, so Cubans are a variety of shades and colors – you’ll find Cubans as dark as night, as white as snow, and everything in between. This is good news for a Canadian Mennonite like me who wants to try to fit in!

China y cubana?

I met a new friend from China, who had asked me to to show her around. In order to pass as a Cuban, I put on the tightest clothes I had and didn’t bring any ‘touristy‘ things with me, like a camera or a confused look on my face. I figured since I’d been there 3 months, I could probably handle the Cuban accent (which is to speak Spanish really fast and ‘eat’ the ends of your words).

Teatro Nacional in Havana, Cuba

The first place we went to was the Teatro Nacional to see the National Cuban Ballet production of Carmen. My Chinese friends slapped down $20 on the counter and left me to deal with the ticket lady while she snapped photos. The lady asked me if we were Cubans – I told her that the Chinese girl obviously wasn’t. I got in fro 20 pesos (less than $1) and was ecstatic!

Castillo de Morro, Havana, Cuba

Later, we went over to the Castillo de Morro, the old fortress around which Havana was built. I did the same thing and got in for $0.50 rather than $6. I was so excited to tell the family I was staying with that I had passed for a Cuban! Now if only I could do the same thing to get a flight down there again…

Talk to us