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Cover image for Working on Cuba

Working on Cuba

jorgecc profile image Jorge Castro ・5 min read

For the record, I wish to use real photos but I don't want to mess my customer.

I work in education and a year ago, I received an email from Cuba and for my surprise (my business is a b2b local), it was real.

It says they want a training course in Cuba (about Microsoft Stack, such as Windows Server), so we deal a price (it was a good price btw, in USD), I get a business visa, put my suitcase and I departed to Cuba (a journey of +14 hours, my butt still hurts).

How is it to work in Cuba?.

It's not a surprise that Cuba is isolated from the World, so it applies different rules, they work differently.

First, they are not sub-developed, instead, it is the opposite. It is not Wakanda but they don't have computers made out of coconuts :-3 I will explain it later

  • The transport is bad, really bad, boo hiss!. Uber in Cuba, ha!. So, if you can't find a transport then you must walk, a lot.

https://icdn2.digitaltrends.com/image/cuban-cars-20-1500x1000.jpg

btw, those cars are real and they are used everywhere.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e4/a6/29/e4a629bd9b88c9472542a184ded95372.jpg

But there is also Coco-Taxi, they are cheaper but ugly.

There are buses but sheesh, nobody understands them, they lack schedule, they are overcrowded but they are cheap.

  • Cuba has stores, even a mall but, they lack variety and it's not rare to find an empty store that sells nothing!. How it works?. Beats me.

https://double-barrelledtravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Shop-store-in-Cuba-Double-Barrelled-Travel.jpeg

  • Cuba has two bills CUC and CUP, CUP is for the locals, it's cheap while CUC is for the tourists, it's expensive!, around 1 CUC = 1 Euro. So Cuba is not cheap unless you are a local or you manage to find some CUP.

  • A programmer/IT specialist earns less than a waitress, I saw a dozen waitress with a university degree. The average salary is around $30-$50 USD per month while a waitress could earn $1 on a single tip.

  • The education is not for free, every student pay with work (some of them work on the crops). It's not slave work (after all, it is optional) and some of them enjoyed it.

  • So, why do they want to study a computer career? the salary of a programmer is so-so (around $40 USD per month), and the education is not for free, then why?. Simple, some of them want to migrate but in general, they want to study it. So, the average programmer in Cuba really enjoys its job. Thus, it increases the quality of the professional considerably.

https://www.ironpointinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/follow-your-passion-header-image.png
It is true.

  • The State (Cuba) invest a lot in education and the level of education is anything but bad. It is because the education is focused on the people that are willing to work for it, it weeds out the bad elements automatically. The Havana City Historian is one of the more powerful men on the island.

  • In Cuba, you don't need to work at all, some people are never worked in its life and people in general are more relaxed.

Technology.

Professionally, they not sub-developed, they work with top technology but they lack resources. For example, they worked on c#, MVC, entity framework, i.e. the stack that you could find elsewhere.

  • Server. You won't find a datacenter in Cuba and most servers are basic but they work. If a Server fails, then they don't have the resources to buy a new one, so most Servers are repurposed/fixed.

A Server in Cuba is like one of those classic Cuban cars (or Cuba in general), they are fixed and patches until they can't be fixed anymore and when it happens, then their parts are salvaged. And since they lack resources, then they are in an eternal cycle of repair-use-repair. Everything is almost falling apart but it works, they are really lucky.

Even a light bulb is a luxury, I'm not kidding. But the electric bill is practically for free.

Then, How does the average Cuban have a cell phone? Relatives working outside Cuba.

  • Network. Most of the connections are via cat5 or a cooper-pair. Some business has a huge LAN, connecting offices via cable, it's really old-school.
  • Wifi. It was stupid 🤦 Wifi is banned on Cuba. There are cellphones but they are a bit of expensive and it lacks the Internet but wifi, nope!. Cuba missed the chances of a national-wide-Internet.
  • Internet is bad. My customer has access to the Internet at the blazing speed of 56kb and they are privileged. The average Cuban and businesses don't have access to the Internet but in some square, aka free internet spots.

https://i2.wp.com/www.drinkteatravel.com/wp-content/uploads/40335101972_30e2c002f6_k.jpg

  • Piracy. Since there is not a limit on licenses (they pirate all the software anyway), then they usually use the latest technology.

  • They use mainly Microsoft products. And Linux?, Not so much because Linux relies on online repositories, so it is rare to find Linux.

  • It is their Internet:
    https://worldmaster.com.uy/imagenes/fotos/en-uruguay/Pendrive-Kingston-16-Gb-Dt-101-Gen-2-USB-2.0-en-Oferta-venta-en-uruguay-montevideo-worldmaster.com.uy-1111.jpg

They do everything with Pendrive.

So, in general, the IT staff must be really creative and think outside of the box.

  • Pendrives.

I brought some pen drives (as a gift) and they were confiscated by the airport (why? I don't know). Cocks***!. However, the female assistance dress fishnet and short skirts. As I straight male 👍

http://dartoidsworld.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Airport-girls.png

People

  • The average Cuban is friendly, really friendly and they are proud of it. I live in a cold country and we are not as friendly as the Cubans (in fact, we are wary of strangers). Usually, they are close to their neighbor.

  • They are not trapped inside of Cuba, they could leave (and return) whenever they want with a catch, the must pay the trip and with a salary of less than $50USD per month, it is really hard to travel outside. Yet, USA is off-limits.

  • Cuba is surprisingly safe and it's hard to find a cop around the street and the few ones are collecting fines.

Weather

It s*cks!.

Endnote.

I enjoyed working in Cuba, I won't move to Cuba but I enjoyed it anyway.

My main gripe was the lacks of stores, transport, the lacks of the Internet (if you want to disconnect from the Internet, then Cuba is your place) and the weather.

I even buy an indoctrination cap (the first image).

Posted on by:

jorgecc profile

Jorge Castro

@jorgecc

You are free to believe in whatever you want to, me too. So, stop preaching your religion, politics, or belief. Do you have facts? Then I will listen. Do you have a personal belief? Sorry but no.

Discussion

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Interesting. As you said Cubans want to migrate and the one that choose a computer career have better chances outside.
Also to mention we have a huge University forming every year more than 1000 IT professionals and just a few of them can do a life of it while they're in the island.

I personally did that. Studied IT there for "free" and now I'm living in Europe, having a better life and helping my family still living there.
Thanks you for reflecting the reality of my country.

José