Mon 20 Mar 2017
Landlady: Take a rain check
I'm in Havana again and the property market has gone mad. Everyone we know seems to be talking about how much they could sell their house for, or if not, how much they're going to spend on a flat, and eventually, how much money they'll make renting out their newly painted rooms to tourists. For a place with dyed-in-the-wool communist roots, the apple has certainly fallen far from the tree. Although I have enough money in the bank here to buy something, I'm going to hang fire for now and wait to see what happens.
I am sure that, even if everyone does up their house and rents rooms to tourists, there will still not be enough rooms to mop up the ever-increasing tide of people who are visiting Cuba. Already, the main streets and plazas of Havana Vieja resound with the newly present voices of extremely loud people from the United States, causing my English friend N, who's lived in Havana for many years, to become apoplectic with rage as soon a selfie-stick-wielding herd of Yankees hove into view.
It's all very well and I'm glad my Cuban friends finally have the opportunity to make some money, but the dramatic increase in tourism has put a great deal of pressure on an already fragile system. “There's no food in any of the shops”, was one of the first things that my friend Yusi said to us when I arrived. “That's because all those effing tourists have eaten it all', fumed my angry friend N... an observation that is pretty accurate, I should imagine.
In an attempt to escape the incoming tide of Americans, myself, The Cuban Boyfriend, N and my friend M, who is holidaying with us, escaped to a tiny seaside village in the East of Cuba. In two cars, we traversed a heady mountain range and as we came down the other side, The Cuban Boyfriend's brakes failed and my friend N's brakes caught fire, leaving us all a little shaky but intact at the end of it all.