Note: this is one of a series of posts about our trip to Cuba; please see our other posts about the trip.
While in Havana, we stayed at a privately owned casa particulare (a Bed and Breakfast). The owners, Carlos and his wife Yordanca, opened Solinos y Yo 4 months ago and business has been excellent--which is unsurprising, given the level of service they provide.
The beautifully remodeled 4th-floor apartment has 6 double rooms, a large living room and a sea view from the full porch. This porch is 5 stories up, but in Cuba they count the ground floor separately. They also offer 24 hour service for anything from a mojito, to a meal, to a private vintage car and driver.
Despite the many advantages to owning or working for such a business, deciphering the bureaucratic puzzle that it takes to get a business license can be difficult. Once you have it, it still can be a challenge to obtain enough materials to remodel since shipments can be scarce. Kathryn was displeased to hear that there was a Diet Coke shortage while we were there, but Carlos said we were lucky: three weeks ago there had been no toilet paper!
We also had a great time with the people who worked there. English is the new trendy language, so everyone was eager for an opportunity to practice. This was a bit disconcerting, since I was desperately trying to practice my Spanish.
From the employees we learned how much better it was to work at the casa particulare than for the government. One of the attendents, Osmel, told me how he had graduated university with a degree in chemistry and had taught for several years. He’s now earning 6 times more working as a hotel attendant!