A cathedral with three names. A city that moved on mass. And a bird the size of a bumble bee.
Just some of the mind-blowing facts we learnt in Part 1 of our whistle-stop tour of the wonderful and weird – Cuban style.
And now, suitably refreshed with a Cuban cocktail of your choice, welcome back to Part 2 of our Cuban Spice quiz – where we’re going to learn about some of Cuba’s most peculiar cultural norms and wackiest world records.
Let’s dive straight in.
(Remember: answers at the end of the round and no peeking!)
Round 2: Cuba’s people
Your starter for ten:
1. Cuba has the world’s highest ratio of what?
2. In a 2010 interview with Mexican newspaper La Jornada, what did Fidel Castro take responsibility for?
3. Until 1 January 2021, Cuba was one of only two countries to have two different what?
4. Fidel Castro holds the Guinness World Record for which of these?
a. The longest speech ever at the United Nations
b. Being the longest-serving non-royal head of state
c. Surviving the most assassination attempts
Staying with world records:
5. Which of the following records are held by Cuban citizens?
a. Rolling the world’s longest cigar
b. Crushing beer cans with their back
c. Heading a football
6. North Korea and Cuba are the only two countries in the world where you can’t buy what?
7. Which popular board game did Fidel Castro ban upon seizing power in 1959?
8. What unusual thing are drivers of Government cars legally required to do?
9. The United States rents Guantánamo Bay Naval Base for $4,085 a month. What’s the total amount Cuba has received since 1959?
And finally, we’ve started so let’s finish:
10. What should you not do in the street if you don’t want to cause offence?
The Answers: Round 2
11. Cuba has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world. So much so that many Cuban doctors go overseas to help out other national health systems.
12. The persecution of gay people. In his autobiography My Life, Fidel Castro also criticised the machismo culture of Cuba and urged the acceptance of homosexuality, as well as making several speeches about discrimination.
His niece and daughter of former President Raúl Castro, Mariela Castro, is one of Cuba’s most prominent LGBT activists.
13. Until this year, Cuba had two national currencies: one used by Cubans (the Cuban Peso, or CUP); the other used by tourists (the convertible peso, or CUC). According to The Economist, the now-removed CUC was worth about 24 times more than the CUP.
The other country is China.
14. Answer B: the longest-serving non-royal head of state. Fidel Castro was also well-known for his lengthy speeches. In 1960, he delivered the second-longest speech ever at the UN, talking for 4 hours 29 minutes.
The record is held by the Indian politician, VK Krishna Menon, who defended India’s rights to Kashmir for 7 hours and 48 minutes.
Castro’s own record for a political speech was 7 hours 10 minutes, delivered in 1986 at the 3rd Communist Party Congress in Havana.
The number of failed assassination attemps on Fidel Castro is unknown but Fabian Escalante, former head of Cuba’s secret service, told a Channel 4 documentary there’d been a total of 638 attempts by his calculations.
15. Which one is a world record held by a Cuban? All three. Because if Brits love to quiz, Cubans love to attempt to break world records. From singing and dancing marathons to free-diving and face piercings.
a. In 2016, Jose Castelar Cairo broke his own record for the world’s longest hand-rolled cigar. At a colossal 90 metres (250 feet) – the length of a football field – it took him ten days to roll. It was rolled to celebrate Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday.
b. In August 2021, 21-year-old Christian Manuel Castellano Rangel broke the Guinness World Record for squeezing cans with his back, crushing 84 cans in just one minute.
c. And perhaps Cuba’s most prolific record breaker, former professional footballer Erick Hernández is the world leader in “dominating the ball”. In a career spanning more than 15 years, he’s broken multiple records for controlling a football, including while walking 26 miles and sprinting for 100 metres.
His most recent records, set during the COVID-19 pandemic, include 188 headers in 30 seconds.
16. What can’t you buy in Cuba? Coca-Cola. So when you order a Cuba Libre (more on that in a moment), don’t expect it to be made with the world’s most famous cola.
And don’t expect it to be made with the cocktail’s original rum, Bacardi, which, despite its origins in Santiago de Cuba, hasn’t been sold in Cuba since 1960.
In fact, we would suggest that you don’t actually ask for a Cuba Libre. Cubans prefer to call it the mentirita (“little lie”).
17. Monopoly. Frowning upon the idea of people making a game out of American capitalist ideals, Fidel Castro ordered all sets to be destroyed. Which will have been a sizable number because before the revolution monopoly had a huge Cuban following. Cuba even had its own bootlegged version, called Capitolio.
18. They must pick up hitch-hikers, if they have room. The law only applies to Cuban nationals. Private cars are forbidden from picking up foreign tourists unless they have a taxi license.
Foreign tourists also can’t stay overnight at a Cuban’s home, unless it’s one of the casas particulares with a blue sign outside, meaning the owner has paid for a government permit to host foreigners. An orange sign outside means the casa particular is only for Cuban nationals.
In Cuba, mi casa isn’t always su casa. Which means you may miss out on watching some South Korean soap operas – very popular among Cubans.
19. $4,085. Cuba has only ever cashed one of the cheques since the Cuban Revolution. The remaining uncashed cheques are said to have been kept in Fidel Castro’s office, stuffed in a desk drawer.
20. Don’t blow your nose. Cubans consider blowing your nose or spitting in public to be the height of rudeness.
Also, avoid taking any photos of police or soldiers. That’s illegal. And it’s best to ask before taking a photo of any locals. But, when you think about it, isn’t that only common courtesy and perhaps something we should adopt elsewhere?
You’ll never know unless you go
Scores on the doors. How did you get on?
We started this mini-series of blog posts by asking what better way to get to know a country than through a quick pop quiz.
But there’s really only one way to discover the enchanting country that is Cuba: visit it.
And if that’s something you fancy doing, why not check out our Cuban Explorer 11-night break? We’d love to have you join us.
Don’t miss Part 1 of this quiz to really test your Cuban knowledge!
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