Four Ways to Embarrass Yourself in Cuba

ays to embarrass yourself in CubaCuba has always intrigued me, as a U.S. citizen travel to the Caribbean island has been off limits for most of my life. Then a few years back some of the restrictions were lifted and I was able to get more exposure to the culture, history, and sites through various news outlets and bloggers.

I decided I needed to go. A childhood friend of mine, Sarah, has been wanting to go on an international trip with me. I suggest Cuba. Flights were booked. Passports were stamped. And we were off, off to explore Cuba and embarrass ourselves along the way. 

Parque Central Havana

Chicas Buenas aren’t Good Girls

I know limited Spanish, and when I mean limited it consists of what I can put together from all the years I spent studying French. Luckily, the two are very similar. So, when our male horseback riding guide kept incorporating “chicas buenas” in our conversations I thought nothing of it. To me, this phrase meant “good girls”. To add context this man also asked if I had a boyfriend and wanted babies. To which I shook my head at both, he then stated that if I were to move to Cuba I could be his girlfriend and have babies within three years. Yay me! I politely turned down the offer.

Horseback Riding Vinales, Cuba

It was on another tour the following day when a different guide, also male, used the phrase. He knew a lot more English and asked us if we knew what it meant. Sarah and I gave each other the look. You know the look. The look of “oh no, what have we been nodding our heads to and agreeing with this past day and a half?” He then made a motion that looked as if he were groping his breasts and told us it meant something along the lines of “sexy girls/nice jugs”. Great. So our entire horseback ride yesterday involved our guide saying we were sexy and had nice boobs. No wonder he made us trot a lot. Now we know. And in secret, we call each other Chicas Buenas.

Chicas Buenas Cuba
This is our version of “chicas buenas”

Sometimes you have to get naked

You know what? Cuba in July is fucking HOT! I knew it would be hot but somehow the heat and the humidity knocked me on my ass. I’m from Missouri, I know heat and humidity. I’ve traveled to India, Thailand, and Cambodia during monsoon season. Again, I know hot. I guess the comfort of living in Colorado has made me a wuss. To get a break from the heat I’d strip down to my underthings whenever we got back to our room. Sarah and I have known each other from birth, we are not shy around each other.

Sunset in Vinales Cuba
Sorry, no photos of me in my underthings so this sunset will have to do.

Our casa host, Aurely, got a semi-nude surprise one afternoon when she came knocking to see if we needed anything. I think the heat made me delirious, I couldn’t think (or we can say I didn’t think) and I opened the door while in my bra and undies. Aurely didn’t seem a bit shocked. I apologized for my state of undress and she continued to give us recommendations for dinner that night all while I’m standing at the door in a thong.

Flash forward to the next day, the same situation as above except I am laying on my bed in my underthings and Sarah decides to open the door (also in her underthings). We thought it was Aurely and since she already knows we like to chill with our clothes off we assumed it would be her again and didn’t bother covering up. Well, it wasn’t her. Our neighbor came over to ask us about the horseback riding tour. She too didn’t seem to mind a bit. She welcomed herself in, sat on Sarah’s bed and proceeded to chat. I mean WHAT? Woman! We are clearly not dressed for the occasion. Please stay, this could only get more uncomfortable. After telling her all about our horseback riding trip from the day before she left, happy for the advice.

Badass women wear dresses

After the horseback riding excursion, we decided a beach day would be nice and relaxing. We hired a taxi driver to take us to Cayo Jutias for the day. To ensure we had as much beach time as possible we threw on our swimsuits and beach dresses before he picked us up. On the way to the beach, our taxi driver let us know he would add a cave tour for no extra cost. Sign us up! He did say we needed to go to the cave first before the beach…something about timing. Cool, no problem.

We arrived at the site of the cave. I thought I’d see a large opening at ground level. Nope. Our driver pointed to a small opening on the side of a mountain about 300 feet up saying that was the cave we were going to. All of the caves I have been to are the kind where you just walk in, no climbing needed. Not this cave. This cave required you to climb a mountain in order to get to the entrance.

Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria
Guess I will throw in a pic of Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria. Yes, this is painted on the side of a cliff in Cuba. I’d love to know your thoughts.

WTF did we just sign up for? I thought today was Relaxation Day and that we’d take a little walk to the entrance of the cave, look around, and call it a day. No, this was actual caving. I mentioned we are in swimsuits and beach dresses right? No one wears that crap caving! We did and we looked good doing it (Ha, yea right). Our guide thought so too as he completely ignored the French family and British couple on the tour. Note to self – wear dresses while caving more often for a personalized tour.

Caving in Vinales, Cuba

Not so dry Dry Bag

Finally, it is beach time! Sarah brought her dry bag which she received for free from one of the vendors she works with. I’ve seen lots of travelers with dry bags but I haven’t purchased one myself so I was excited to see how Sarah’s would hold up. We pack that thing full of our most precious possessions; passports, room key, cell phones, and money. When we arrived at the beach we set up our towels, bought a cold brewski and people watched until we worked up a sweat.

Cayo Jutias, Cuba
Said dry bag is in the background.

Sufficiently sweaty it was time for a dip. I’ve been to plenty of beaches and know not to leave any valuables unattended, even if you can see them from the shore. We grabbed the dry bag and took a leisurely swim. The dry bag felt like it was doing its job. Lies. Big lies. That dry bag loved water, it loved water so much that everything inside was saturated. Including our passports and Sarah’s phone. What about my phone? Well, I was skeptical of the bag so I brought a waterproof pouch for my phone, no harm was done. In this scenario, double bagging was a good call. However, Sarah’s phone was a goner. I can only assume the dry bag was a goner as well.

Cayo Jutias, Cuba

Lessons Learned

Flirts are everywhere. Since I love not wearing pants I should probably keep some nearby to throw on just in case I get an unexpected guest. Always check with your guide on what activities require so you dress appropriately. And give your dry bag a test run in the sink before taking it to the beach.

Smoking Cigars in Cuba
Badasses smoking cigars. More like Sarah smoking and me pretending like I know what I am doing.

Even with the massive flirting efforts of our tour guides, not dressing for the occasion, and the uselessness of the dry bag; I loved my trip to Cuba.

What makes travel so rewarding for me is being able to laugh, whether it is at myself or the situation. Need more? Check out this post of an overnight train ride in India. It includes more nakedness and some farts.

 

 

Ways to Embarrass Yourself in Cuba

24 thoughts on “Four Ways to Embarrass Yourself in Cuba”

  1. Wow..love this post!It’s such an experience to travel especially when you don’t know the language and are out of your comfort zone!You go, girl! I remember putting together two posts full of mistranslation stories-love reading such posts:)

    1. Thanks Menorca! It is always a fun time when we are lost in translation. The stories usually are pretty good too. 🙂

  2. LOL on chicas buenas. I had no clue. But goodness, I will refrain from using the term to describe any niche women I befriend in Cuba or any Spanish-speaking land Katie hahaha…..we tend to learn these things by speaking to other native speakers. Or, we never know all the silly stuff we have said or nodded and agreed with, being totally lost. Comes with the travel territory. Thanks for the fun read.

  3. I loved reading your writing, it was hilarious! It’s great that you can turn a potentially embarrassing moment and turn it into a great story instead 🙂 Also I’ll 100% remember chicas buenas if I ever do go haha

    1. I completely agree, it is the silly things that happen to us while traveling that make the best stories.

  4. Sounds like a fun trip! I think going to a new place with a different culture will always have some embarrassment. How else do you grow? I would love to check out Cuba!

  5. Omg I was thinking that the dry bag was such a good idea until you said it didn’t work! I never thought about using one to keep my stuff with me when on the beach, but maybe now I’ll just look for one with really good reviews and put my stuff in a plastic bag inside, too. Glad you had a great trip!

  6. Such a great post! And yikes to the dry bag. Hopefully that company wasn’t waiting for a review because I can’t see a good one coming from that! Hope you were able to salvage the passports.

    1. Haha, right? Luckily, it wasn’t my dry-bag to use. It also might have been “human error”. The passports were salvageable…just slightly wrinkly.

  7. This was such a fun read. Made me laugh out loud. But things lost in translation and few missteps while traveling is what makes it all memorable. Am I right? 🙂

    Cuba is on my list for so long. Hope to make it there sooner than later.

  8. Great post! When I read the title I thought to myself that I really don’t need any help in this area, I do an excellent job at embarrassing myself all the time, everywhere. As long as you roll with the punches it’s all good right? Sounds like you had an epic time!

  9. Love your post! This was such a fun way to share some important information that one should know when traveling to Cuba. Love the way you crafted this!

  10. Haha sounds like some good times were had. Cuba is pretty fantastic regardless of if you make a fool of yourself or not! I’d love to go to that cave though (with proper clothing 😉 ) it sounds super cool!

  11. Hahaha omgggg my level of Spanish is the same as yours. Your stories are soooo hilarious but I can only imagine how embarrassing it must’ve been in the moment of! And how did you even climb up that cave??? Did you wear harnesses over your dresses? Lol!

  12. You definitely know how to have an entertaining time! 🙂 Don’t feel bad about the chicas buenas thing! My Spanish is decent – I lived in Ecuador for 9 months and spoke Spanish literally all the time – but I would’ve thought the same as you. It’s gotta be some Cuban slang.

    And worst. drybag. ever!!

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