Some animals are more equal than others

The goal of communism, I think, is the classless society. To some extent, Cuba seems to have achieved that–nobody has much, but they all have about the same.

Today, though, we had an object lesson in inequality.

It started with Ludwig, our guide, telling us of the best ice cream in Havana. Naturally, we had to try it. We started the day with a visit to a synagogue, where we saw a very well restored temple and made the last of our humanitarian donations. They now have enough toothbrushes, Tylenol and Desitin to last another revolution.

Then lunch, where I finally had a fairly decent meal–just plain spaghetti and tomato sauce, but it wasn’t chicken, black beans and rice and I enjoyed the heck out of it. There was something they called pizza, too, but I’d fire anyone at my store who tried to put whatever it was in front of a customer. I was happy with the pasta.

So then we were off to the ice cream palace. Turns out it is an enormous establishment, with multiple serving locations including a building like the iconic LAX restaurant, standing on legs over everything else. There were perhaps 600, perhaps 1000 people there, standing very patiently in lines that snaked around the corner for a hundred yards or more.

Ludwig confidently walked past all of them, through the milling crowds in another area, then past two security guards to a small area with a few empty tables, one couple, a Che flag, and a woman in a booth selling ice cream. We walked right up, ordered, paid and sat down. It cost me about $6.00 for the two of us to each have two scoops of fairly decent ice cream in a glass bowl with a cookie and syrup.

Why so easy? Because our prices were in CUC–the convertible pesos you buy with dollars or euros. All the other places, where the lines were so long, were in local, non-convertible pesos. Same nominal prices, but 1 CUC is worth 24 of the local variety.

Which basically means that we silly gringos (and Europeans and Asians and other travellers) get to avoid the lines, but pay 24 times as much for our ice cream. Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

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