Genuinely nice people

Before launching in a very long and generic travel report of my Cuba trip I'd rather talk about something that I couldn't stop thinking about for the past three weeks while in Cuba. Genuinely Nice People are a group of people I would define as:

People who do something for you without getting anything (significant) in return out of their own volition, not because society/other people or the situation expects them to do that.

It's a bit of a vague definition, but there is no hard dividing line between being nice and not nice, or being 'obligatory' nice and genuinely nice. The point is, there are certain actions people could do that would clearly belong into one of these categories.

Obligatory nice: carrying the heavy suitcase of an elderly person up the stairs in London. This is obligatory nice because it's such an obvious situation that anyone would try to help, unless you're really being a dick. In other countries (Cuba) this version of obligatory nice would come with a fee in the end if you were a tourist.

Obligatory nice: while we we were waiting in line at the bus stop in Santiago de Cuba for several hours we could not forfeit our place in line or otherwise we wouldn't be able to take the bus. We did want to find something to eat, so a Cuban came by and offered to get us something. This is obligatory nice because the Cuban in question owned a cafeteria nearby and sold us the food at (slightly) inflated prices. It still benefited us both, of course, so we were happy.

Genuinely nice: a bit later in the same queue I wanted to exchange some big notes into smaller notes yet I had trouble telling the bus ticket office  guy that. The same cafeteria guy from before showed up and translated into Spanish for me without asking anything in return. (In actuality, the bus ticket office guy was a dick and told us to fuck off, but cafeteria guy managed to convince/trick him into changing the money for us. Yay cafeteria guy!)

Genuinely nice: after missing our first bus we were very confused if we would be able to get on the second bus or not. Bus ticket office guy flat-out refused to talk to us or give us any information, but another person stepped up and told us in broken English that we were first in line for the next bus and that he was behind us in line. This guy was really nice. He could have just told us nothing, or told us that he was before us in line, but he was honest to us and did not get any benefit in return. Great guy.

Note that I am by no means judging Cubans (or other people) by this. If anything, the previous examples reflect the actions of Cubans towards a particularly snobby tourist couple who seemed like they could be taken advantage of. I'm sure the same people react very differently among themselves. That being said, the above two examples are the ONLY two examples I can think of during our three week trip where Cubans were genuinely nice to us. Every other time people tried to scam us, beg for money or try to get us to take their taxi/hotel home/restaurant/whatever. That is the way tourists are treated in Cuba. It's a stark contrast from Seychelles, where nearly everyone we met was genuinely nice.

 

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