The real price of the Cuban “all inclusive” concept
These notes originated from the observations made during the short vacation in one of the Cuban’s island resorts. This particular resort is located in a remote northern island in the province Santa Clara. Mainland part of the long route from the airport is so-so, though the cities appearance is certainly cheerless, to say the least. However, really dismal landscape begins when the bus leaves the mainland. Shallow waters in between the flat islands have nothing appealing to the feeling of nature’s beauty, but create the loneliness and utter desperate remoteness only. It is not a “get away” in its classic sense of new picturesque sights and wonderful discoveries, filled with the dynamics of the Road. This is a kind of hopeless “get away” when one begins to worry if he is really able to escape from this place eventually, after being sealed in the small island confinement, on the civilization outskirts.
When one gets to the hotel, he is getting the feeling, the spirit of the tourists’ processing plant. Factory workers are completely indifferent to the products and production processes of the factory. Occasionally, the service people can greet you on a path, but it would be better if they do not do this at all, so unnatural and forceful these efforts are. Obviously, they are just instructed to emulate a cozy friendly atmosphere. Well, some people can buy this. There are few people, of course, whose greeting sounds genuinely because of their kind nature, but this is an exception. In general, one can feel this indifferent attitude, on the verge of contempt, through a whole stay.
Workers are stimulated by money they want for everything, even if it is included into the package. You want to get the tennis racquets? Only the broken ones are available. Even if somebody has just returned the racquets, there are no balls. Money will be extorted anyway. You want to make a phone call? You will be charged not double but a triple price. You talked barely thirty seconds, but you have to pay for three minutes though per minute charge to be applied. This is six something convertible pesos, which is a lot there and equivalent of roughly seven Canadian dollars. The operators do not afraid doing this. They are so impudent, insolent is such practices that one should not be a genius to realize that the whole system is deeply corrupted from the very bottom to the very top. Those operators or air hostesses obviously share this “income” with their bosses. So, any complains are useless. Those Cubans who were able to get somehow (how, this is another question) to the source of convertible money are unbelievably greedy and unscrupulous creatures. Cuban Airlines hostesses would like to charge you two dollars for a small cup of juice, which is supposed to be free. Such a desire to grab as much money as possible, and as soon as possible, is an astonishing one. These people are crossing all the boundaries of the common sense and self-respect. Younger persons are the greediest, of course. Where in the world one can find this? These people are deeply and hopelessly corrupted and spoiled for the rest of their lives. Such an attitude to money is just insane, but they do not realize this and it seems they never will. They lack immunity to all sorts of dishonesties. They have no idea that such things as honesty and respect exist at all! Money justifies everything in their cripple mentality. Well, so much about characters. Callousness probably is an adequate word to describe the general atmosphere of this and many other modern Cuban resorts. These are tourist factories where the input raw material is brought, processed, squeezed of money and half-drunken thrown back to the native land.
So, what are people getting anyway if they are ready to pay? What are the real things and what are the mists, the legends, tourist buying? Does the tourist is the only entity which pays? Let’s try to address these questions. I will start with the climate and the ocean. Warm temperatures are there. Some days the weather is too fresh to wade in the ocean. It can be rainy, sometimes it is too windy and stormy, because this is the northern Atlantic ocean side, not the Caribbean coast. However, the northern tourist can get into the ocean waters probably about 30 % of the time, which are couple days in a week stay. The beach is good, although its maintenance requires much more efforts, especially after storms. Absolutely not enough shadow on the beach, which is sometimes the subject of the physical fights, as some tourists reported. Walking along the sandy coast might be a good exercise. However, the option is spoiled by the exhibitions of standing and walking freaks and morons without any clothes, whatever side of the coastal line one decides to walk. This is also an indicative what kind of public is attracted to this spot. The pool could be an alternative to the ocean for those who want to swim. However, the water in the pool is just too cold for swimming in the morning. Those biting flies are very common species in the Cuban resorts. Some people get allergy after these bites, by the way. Sometimes this nuisance is tolerable. Sometimes it is quite disturbing. It depends on the season, temperature and rains.
Tropical landscape is traditionally another appealing feature of “sunny destinations”. This and other similar hotels solve this problem “graciously” and very economically. Builders put the buildings into the original unattractive island vegetation, which is presented by shrubs and bushes (nothing else can grow on the poor sand soil). They cut the paths between the buildings and put some palms and flowers along these trails or roads, whatever you like, leaving the rest in its natural but certainly not appealing state. A very economical approach. If one goes along the only island road outside the hotel, then he will discover not just boring but rather depressing landscape. The coast looks almost hostile. The assurance of the staff that one can do snorkeling on the tip of the island to explore the coral riffs is an ugly joke. It is not even a coral riff; it is just a sediment rock. The bushes in the Northern Ontario are much more appealing than this “tropical paradise”.
Sporting activities, health improvement? The fitness centre equipment is miniscule in variety. Conditions are so-so. Apparently it does not have air conditioning or it did not work in our time. It is certainly below sub par. There is a kind of spa facility. One should pay for the visiting of course, which is fine. Given the impression of the overall service quality, it is not obvious that such visits might really improve the health. Actually very few tourists visit both facilities. Overwhelming majority does not need this kind of services at all, you will see why later in this story.
Now we go to the major, almost the only activities of the resort. Here they are. Many people go to the pool and stay there most of the vacation time, locating closer to the bar. It is surprisingly how many do not get to the beach even if the weather is good. Bar is much more attractive than the ocean view. It is an ideal place for people who adore to drink or those who inclined to join the ranks, because the whole resort’s environment is created artificially to promote this vice by all means. This is because the hotel cannot offer a real vacation quality improving health and developing personality. The only thing they can really do well is to explore the worst animal inclinations of the human nature to extract the money. This is the only concern they have. Who then pays the bills for the deterioration and harm to tourists' health inflicted by these absolutely unscrupulous business practices? The answer is, these are health systems of their countries and people themselves. Instead of improving health, people are encouraged to destroy it by these savage approaches. Alcohol is everywhere. It might be often of a poor quality and generously diluted as people reported, but it is abundant. It is difficult to get a cup of tea, but wine is served almost forcefully because this is, in fact, the only choice left after the glass of water. You can get juice only in the morning.
Now we will explore the unlimited quantity of food offered to the visitors. Generally speaking it is not as bad, but it is not good either. Unhealthy fast food is abundant, though one can craft a reasonable menu with some efforts. Occasionally one can get spoiled dishes harmful to eat. This thing happens in many resorts all over the world. It is a normal attitude just to be careful and do not try anything suspicious or the products that can be spoiled easily. The “reuse” option with regard to food is prominently exercised. I do not think hygienically it is a good idea given the tropical climate and the open concept of restaurants. The main problem is that people overeat heavily in such systems. They are encouraged to do this by the environment, unlimited quantity, alcohol consumption and lack of other activities. It is really a problem to see a normal body on the beach without excessive, absolutely unnecessary “additions”. People overweight already and they are encouraged by the resort spirit and environment to continue to deteriorate their appearance and their health. However, somebody has to pay the bills!
So, alcohol and overeating are two major attractions of such “sunny destinations”. So are the majority of the visitors. Theoretically one can restrict himself in eating, that’s right. But that is a hypothetical option. In reality, a small percentage of people are really able to control the food consumption. Small, already overweight, children carry huge dishes of calorie rich food such as meat, bakery, noodles, chips etc. These are children! They should move, jump, swim, but they do not. Three times a day they overeat heavily instead, as well as continue trying other dishes in between. What parents think, if they ever do?
This brief description gives an idea about the concept of life enjoyment imposed by those Cubans and general tourist industry on visitors. This is an appeal to animal nature in humans as much as possible, because this is a surest way to get more and more money. People pay easily to satisfy theirs low instincts, it is just a matter of waking up those instincts and destroy the human reasoning, self-respect and other really human features. Cuban resorts are quite successful in doing this. They explore and provoke the development of the worst human features by offering “free” alcohol and unlimited food quantity, but certainly not the quality, while actually deprive people of variety of other useful and healthy activities.
There is no such notion as a “free lunch” in this world. It just does not exist, principally, and never existed. People should realize that they pay the largest price possible for these things, namely paying by their health and moral and ethical well beings. The money they spend during such “dream vacations” can bring a lot more to many of them. These “dreams” are not cheap anyway. This is the money that can really improve health and develop personality intellectually and emotionally. Canada is such a beautiful country with such a magnificent nature and people. Explore the Rocky Mountains; explore the Atlantic provinces, British Columbia, Quebec, visit parks and lake shores in Ontario. There are lots of places in Canada for every season and every liking. Travel among the people with healthy mentality, among the people you can understand and comprehend. There are so many places in the world that can really enrich us culturally, intellectually, emotionally. There are so many opportunities to improve health in this country or abroad, instead of going to such resorts to do exactly the opposite. Actually, changing climate to tropical one is not healthy at all. This is a stress for organism by all standards. Sharp climate change is also a thing to weight for many people sensitive to climate. This myth about Cuban tropical paradise is overexaggerated heavily and promoted artificially by vacation companies and Cubans because of the only purpose. This is about money. It is nothing really exciting about such “sunny destinations” as the one I described if one thinks for a moment, unless he is kind of a person preferring beach to the bar near the pool, or he is just unrecoverable glutton.
Obviously there are tropical destinations offering really healthy and interesting recreational activities and really friendly environment. We found few in the past. Maybe there are such resorts in Cuba now, hypothetically. Who knows? However, given the dynamics of Cuban developments and really fast deterioration of moral standards in this country, it is impossible that the quality of vacations will be improving. Only vice versa. The way they were developing this “all inclusive” concept demonstrates clearly the path this country is heading to. This concept principally, in its depth, is vice in itself. It has been promoted by them to the level where it was narrowed strictly to appeal to the worst animal instincts of the human nature that promote degradation of the personality and health deterioration. The good news is that there are lots of excellent alternatives for Canadians. They just have to explore more thoroughly numerous opportunities available at home and abroad, in order to get the real benefits from their money both in terms of health improvement and personal development.