What should We Ask a Cuban?

For must of the travelers, the main incentive in their vacations in this Island is to know the people, to identify themselves with their eating ways, dancing, music listening. That is why it is necessary to have a key, to know them.

Any foreign tourist visiting Cuba wonder themselves about the codes of the locals, their likes, costumes and traditions, so much spread through music, colorful.

This appeal, besides the natural beauties of the country, coud have been summed up in a questionaire, that it is written in form of jokes and the people know it, answer it and keep it.

This so called list –nobody knows who wrote it- counts on 76 questions spread through E-mail or the Internet, but it is a summary of the character, humor and home history. That is why, even foreigners try to answer the poll.

The questionaire has jokes and anecdotes known since the Spanish colonial times. For example, the ask “When was Lola killed?”, and only a Cuban would know the answer of the phrase, “At three o’clock”.

What happened to Chacumbele? (he killed himself). Other ones more practical and universal state: What happens to the quiet kid? (he/she does not drink milk).

Some questions date from the times of the political campaigns, such as the ones of the 20’s, 30´s and 40´s from last century when there used to be a song called La Chambelona, then the question is: Aé..Aé.. what?, then the answer “Aé la Chambelona”.

There are questions on tourism sites too such as, “If I go to the Cobre (municipality and church), what would you like me to bring? (a little figure of the Virgen de la Caridad).

This question has to do with the sancutary El Cobre, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, where the figure of La Caridad, patron of the Cuban catholic, is.

There are also characters, “Where was the Caballero (gentleman) from? (From Paris), alluding to the Caballero de París, a popular man of the 40s and the 50s, with long and messy hair who died in a mental institution.

Nevertheless, this Caballero is a complete symbol due to his speeches and kindness; Spanish inmigrant who used to go around giving pieces of advice and very well known by that time’s kids.

There are many topics in the questionaire: What is the song people sing when they die?, el Manicero, a song by Moisés Simons, outstanding Cuban composer; or “What is the thing people keep when they die?, the car”.

What is Cuba in the Gulf? The key (geographical mention), whoever does not have Congo descendant, he/she has Carabalí descendant, which is a reference to the mixed origin of the Cuban, in first terms, Spanish and African.

What do you do if you are dancing? “echar un pasillo”; or How did he flight?, like Matías Pérez, last century’s Cuban trader who flew in a hot-air balloon for research and never came back.

It is worth to mention the imagination shown in this questionnaire and the live of the Cuban in general, phrases remaking, vendor’s cries, questions and insinuations that directly or indirectly deal with daily subjects either ancient or modern.


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