Osmel Almaguer

Cuban beach.  Photo: Caridad
Cuban beach. Photo: Caridad

When I was six years old, my parents and I vacationed at a military resort that no longer exists. Its name was “Residencial del Mar” (Guesthouse by the Sea).

That was the last time I would stay at anything similar to a hotel.  My parents were young, as were my aunts and uncles who accompanied us.  This was a moment of much happiness and few troubles; we had all the food and drinks we wanted, a pool, a restaurant and a game room.

It’s not that there weren’t other better places than this, but this was enough for me to spend a week that I would never forget, especially since such a stay was never repeated.

And it’s not that vacationing in a hotel is an existential premise for my being (perhaps due to its impossibility), it’s that I need to do something like this to break from the routine of daily life.

It’s true that other ways exist for relaxing, but those too have become somewhat difficult given the lack of money, the shortage of things and the deterioration our society is suffering in terms of services.

But what is occurring with hotels points to something more serious.  In addition to not being able to enjoy them, there are a series of other prohibitions: like not being entitled to travel abroad (only musicians, athletes, managers, etc. are allowed – not tourists) or not being able to freely buy a car (at best you might be assigned one by some institution or workplace), and then there’s obstacles to selling property (like a house, a car, etc.).

Since the beginning of the 1990s “Special Period” crisis and until quite recently (when a law was approved allowing access by Cubans to tourist hotels charging in hard currency) we could not stay in any hotels.

I believe that anyone would feel disconcerted if faced with so many limitations.I’ve often heard expressions in the street like, “Why them and not us?” (though this doesn’t mean that anyone is bothered by foreign tourists; on the contrary, I’ve seen good relations struck up between visitors and Cubans.)

Thank goodness the formal prohibition has been eliminated, though we still find it impossible to stay in a hotel. The average cost for one night is about 80 or 100 CUCs (roughly $90-$110 USD); that’s to say, about 10 times the minimum monthly take-home wage.

Previously, when hotel stays by Cubans was penalized, the government did in fact provide honeymooners a few days in medium category facilities, as well as stays for outstanding workers in vacation retreats. Currently the first option has been eliminated, and the second is on the road to disappearance.

I wonder – when will the time come when I’ll at least be able to stay at another Guesthouse by the Sea?


osmel

Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

3 thoughts on “Guesthouse by the Sea

  • Osmel Almaguer: Re: “I wonder – when will the time come when I’ll at least be able to stay at another Guesthouse by the Sea?”

    I hope that time will come for you soon.

    Robert

  • Luis is correct. Take for example the vast Los Angeles, California area. It is ringed with fabulous mansion estates that make your eyes pop out. Most of the area however is a wasteland of poverty and semi-poverty that is disgusting to behold. This is where the industrial serf class of capitalism lives. This will be the fate of most Cubans if they allow bureaucratic state socialism to take Cuba back to capitalism.

    Everyone in the U.S. has the formal right to stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Resort, but only a few exploiters–like landlords, etc.–have the money to exercise this “freedom.” The answer for Cuba is the same as for the U.S.: a modern cooperative socialist republic.

  • Note that ‘them’ (tourists in Cuba) aren’t ‘everyone’, but only a few that can actually pay for it – when there’s no formal prohibition for something, there’s the ‘hidden’ monetary one.

    This applies for everybody, regardless of origin/country.

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