Cubans and Masks

By Nike

I know women who have masks in every color and match them with their outfits.

HAVANA TIMES – When I go outside every morning, I run into lots of people I know, all of them hiding behind their masks. In addition to greeting one another and saying good morning, we also compliment the masks we wear.

We say, “How are you? Your mask goes so well with your clothes,” and the thing is, Cubans are so vain that this protective garment we wear out of necessity, has now become a fashion item.

I know women who have masks in every color and match them with their outfits.

Young people like wearing black ones. Older people prefer the ones we call culeros (disposable diapers) here, which were the first models used here in Cuba.

It’s a good thing, but it’s also incredible how formal Cubans are with this item. They take more than one with them when they go outside. I don’t think it’s just because of the fine they risk if they are caught without one, which ranges between 1200-1500 pesos, or because of the protection they offer, of course. But rather because, in spite of everything we have endured, we are still a disciplined people, even though we doubt this.

Many young people prefer black.
Feeling safer

Another point worth raising is how masks affect our displays of affection. Not being able to hug each other, or kiss each other once or a thousand times, is almost torture for us. Not being able to see the expression on another person’s face, to see them smiling or get angry… this is one of the greatest problems we face wearing masks.

A new greeting has also been adopted as a consequence, which I don’t agree with. It has been taken from a documentary about parasites: bumping fists. I have seen lots of people touching their face or nose with the back of their hand after this greeting.

I know that this situation is hard for all of us. But I think that if we don’t have any physical contact for a while, we can put this crisis behind faster. It’s what we all want.

Read more from Nike’s diary here.


I was born in Havana, Cuba. All my life I have had the sea as a landscape. I like being close to it, feeling its breeze, its smell, as well as swimming and enjoying the wonders it gives us. Thanks to the manual skill that I inherited from my parents, I have been able to live off crafts. I work primarily papier-mâché, making puppets for children. I write for Havana Times for the possibility of sharing with the world the life of my country and my people.

2 thoughts on “Cubans and Masks

  • This was a very open, honest article about how Cubans feel about masks. We live in Mexico, and the only problem is that the younger generation seem to think they are invincible and our police are not as strict, but they can bring the Virus home to their parents and grandparents! Most men prefer the black ones and homemade colourful ones are worn by females! We visited Cuba several times many years ago, travelled all over and find Mexicans ‘sympatico’ in so many ways!

  • Thanks for sharing how the general population wears masks there in Cuba.
    A clear plastic mask is available for mainly medical personnel to use so the patient can see their facial expression, it makes a difference especially for deaf people. Maybe someone there will design one.

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