Este contra Oeste
East vs. West.There is a great deal of rivalry between the rest of Cuba and the 5 provinces that make up the Oriente: Santiago, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin and Las Tunas. There are claims that they don't understand each other's Spanish. Personally, I think their Spanish is exactly the same with no discernable accent! I introduced my Guantanamo friends to my Havana friends with a warning to both that I would not tolerate any of that outdated and unfounded bias! Well, all went well for the first day but it didn't take long for the old prejudices to resurface. Sadly, even Fidel has not managed to entirely unite his island. Que lastima!
La Casa de Amor
The thing that was great about my most recent trip was that my Spanish has improved greatly and I'm now able to ask questions about what I see in Cuba that puzzles me. The latest curiosity which I came across in Guantanamo was La Casa De Amor. Not that one needs great Spanish to read the sign but they are not what you might think. I initially assumed it was a brothel, but it's not! Apparently, they are small rooms for rent by Cubans wanting some privacy to make love.
The odds of obtaining new housing (unless you are in construction or the military) are next to impossible and that is why you will see many generations of Cubans living under the same roof and many people sharing the same bedroom. Hence the need for privacy. I am told that many Cuban couples rent these rooms by the hour to get away from the family. Also, I am told that many of the Cuban men who are unfaithful to their wives go there when visiting their girlfriends. They call these men 'mariposas' which means butterflies because these men who go from 'flower to flower'. These casas are in every Cuban city and even licenced casa paticulares will rent to Cubans by the hour when no dollar paying tourists are availible.