25 Odd Facts About Cuba To Know Before You Visit

There’s no doubting the mystery that has shrouded the island of Cuba for decades since the US travel ban to the country. These days, however, the lift on the ban has Americans flocking to the small country where bailando is all the rage and cigars are a way of life.

Gearing up for a trip to Cuba this year? Before you pack your bags check out this list of the weirdest things you should be aware of.

1. Ballet instead of basketball.

CREDIT: @panamaballetfestival / Instagram

In Cuba, ballerinas often earn more money than doctors and are considered to at the top tier when it comes to stardom. The National Ballet of Cuba was founded in 1948 and is considered to be the top in the world.

2. They don’t do rum and coke like you do.

CREDIT: @restauracja_secado / Instagram

In every other part of Latin America, a drink with rum, coke and a lime is called a “Cuba Libre.” In Cuba you can put in an order by asking for a “mentrita” AKA “little lie.”

3. Bacardi Rum comes from Cuba.

CREDIT: @beforwork / Instagram

The company moved to Puerto Rico when Fidel Castro took over.

4. It snows there

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Or, at least once it did. The most recent snowfall in March of 1857.

5. Hitchhikers always get a lift.

CREDIT: @elbelgavolador / Instagram

Government vehicles are required to pick up hitchhikers.

6. Internet access is for the 5%.

CREDIT: @martoshke / Instagram

Only this small percentage of the company is allowed access to the uncensored open Internet many across the world are able to access.

7. No selfies with the government.

CREDIT: @d3mariner / Instagram

In Cuba, it is against the law to take photos of police, airport and military workers.

8. Sex changes allowed since 2007

CREDIT: @ohvesta / Facebook

And they’re covered by the health care system.

9. But the country is hardly a queer safe haven.

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Cross-dressing in the country is completely illegal.

10. America pays rent to Cuba but Cuba doesn’t cash it.

CREDIT: @attworldnews / Instagram

The United States pays the country $4,085 annually to rent the 45-square-mile naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba has never cashed the checks however because they refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the lease that gave U.S control over Guantanamo.

11. Dolls get burned there.

CREDIT: @jgrantbrittain / Instagram

Every New Year’s Eve the island of Cuba gets lit up when residents burn dolls. The symbolic burning represents forgetting bad times and looking forward to the new.

12. “Operation Castration”

CREDIT: @acababugunneoldu / Instagram

The CIA had worked to take down Castro for years. The operation was called “Operation Castration” and included one idea of killing him with an explosive seashell.

13. Cuba looks like a crocodile.

CREDIT: @jens_cullmann / Instagram

The country gets its nickname “El Coccodrilo” from the aerial view of the island.

14. Castro hates Monopoly

CREDIT: @emmy_bel / Instagram

One of Fidel Castro’s first orders, when he seized power over Cuba, was to ban and destroy all sets of the game Monopoly.

15. No Coca-Cola

CREDIT: @cocacola / Instagram

Just like North Korea, Cuba bans the distribution of Coca-Cola. Poor mentritas.

16. Cubans love South Korean telenovelas

Of course, the country loves a good telenovela and the drama of Kdramas is too much for them to resist.

17. John Lennon lives there.

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Or at least his legacy does. A statue of Lennon is on 24hr patrol to keep patrons from stealing his glasses.

18. Don’t you dare blow your nose!

CREDIT: @sneezegoddess / Instagram

It’s considered to be super rude to do in public.

19. Crocodiles leap there.

CREDIT: @brodbeckchristopher / Instagram

Cuba has a native species of leaping Cuban crocodiles that are extremely endangered.

20. Christmas came late.

CREDIT: @photography_art777 / Instagram

The country didn’t officially recognize the holiday until 1997.

21. One company makes the premium cigars.

CREDIT: @cigar_aficionado_swiss /

And oh yea they don’t call them cigars there. They call them puros or habanos.

22. No cell phones until 2008.

CREDIT: @cellphoneguys_com / Instagram

That’s a lot of years late when you consider that the rest of the world was getting their hands on the first iPhone just a year later.

23. There are a ton of readers there.

CREDIT: @mainehumanities / Instagram

At 99.8% the country holds one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

24. Cubans and American tourists pay with different money.

CREDIT: @beautybydaniela/ Instagram

In Cuba, there’s the Cuban convertible peso, AKA CUC, and the Cuban peso, AKA the CUP. U.S. visitors require the CUC, which is the exact 1:! of the U.S. dollar.

25. There’s a reason why the cars are old

CREDIT: @d.tolchennikov / Instagram

There was an import ban on cars in Cuba until 2011.

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Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed


Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed

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Any and all news is welcomed right now and Netflix came through this week. “Gentefied” is coming back for a second season and this is absolutely not a drill. Soon we will be back in Boyle Heights with Ana, Chris, Erik, and the rest of the cast we have come to love so much.

Netflix has confirmed “Gentefied” for a second season.

The show is a fan favorite for Netflix with praise and love pouring in for the groundbreaking show. “Gentefied” is set in Boyle Heights and it is all about the fight against gentrification. The show premiered this year to big fanfare and excitement from Latino Netflix users. The show, created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, was picked up for an eight-episode run of the 30-minute show.

The show is one of the most relevant portrayals of the Latino experience in the 21st century.

The show highlights the plight of gentrification on communities across the U.S. Boyle Heights in Los Angeles has been the center of growing tension as the neighborhood slowly gentrifies. Rising rents have forced some residents and businesses to close and leave because of the changing demographic in the neighborhood.

Hearts are full as everyone celebrates the news of a whole new season.

The show originally premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a digital series. Lemus and Chávez debuted the show and it was an instant hit with festival-goers. After three years of waiting, the show was released by Netflix and became a national hit. The show has shone a light on the cost of gentrification for more Americans than knew about it before the show aired.

Low key, it has made for perfect binge-watching during this quarantine.

There isn’t a whole lot any of us can do at the moment. Most of us are at home because of self-isolation and social distancing guidelines designed to save lives during the pandemic. Might as well us some of your time to watch and support and very important moment in our community. This kind of representation is something that Latinos have been asking for.

While excited, some fans want more, like a cross-over with Starz’s “Vida.”

Now, just to be clear, we are not concerned with what it takes to make this happen. Netflix and Starz can come up with the actual plan. We are just going to be here waiting to be heard so we can all have the kind of cross-over the world deserves. Just imagine a chance for those two shows to collide in Latino excellence.

Now we wait for an air date.

We are patient. We will be here when you are ready. All you have to do is let us know when to tune in and you know we are coming through.

READ: I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts

Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

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Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

epiloguebooksch / Instagram

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a relatively new bookstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is facing a very uncertain future. The Latino-owned bookstore opened its doors to the Chapel Hill community six months ago and now COVID-19 is putting their future at risk.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a Latino-owned bookstore in North Carolina that is fighting to survive COVID-19.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews came from a need that the owners saw in downtown Chapel Hill. A bookshop had recently closed in the area so Jamie and Miranda Sanchez knew that it was time for them to help fill that sudden loss.

“We felt like there was a big hole in downtown,” Jaime told The Daily Tar Heel. “A bookshop creates this whole sense of community for the town so we decided to go forward and try to open our own bookstore.”

The bookstore was serving a community that needed a place to gather and discuss ideas after a former bookstore closed its doors.

“The core of our idea began years ago as the union of Jaime’s heritage and Miranda’s passion for writing and the transportive nature of reading. Wanderers and wonderers, our idea continued to grow in the plazuelas of Mexico and the chocolaterías of Spain, in the plazas of every country where such spaces form quasi-families for both the briefest of moments and the longest stretches of time,” reads the bookstore’s website. “In these spaces, people share everything from decadent chocolate to fried street food, to myth-like tales, to the memories of our own childhood selves chasing pigeons and sucking the sticky droplets from paletas off our hands.”

While the bookstore was well received by the community, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.

COVID-19 has swept through the U.S. and the number of cases continues to climb. While New York might be seeing fewer cases, the rest of the U.S. is in an uptick. The virus has forced businesses across the country to close or retool to be online only. That is what Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews did to make sure they can weather the storm.

The owners of the bookstore realized they needed to retool their business strategy when students stopped coming back from Spring Break.

“We started adjusting our plans in early March to accommodate for the new lack of traffic,” Jaime told NBC News. “Students weren’t coming back from spring break, so we had originally thought the locals would come out like they did during winter break to take advantage of the lack of downtown traffic, but that obviously didn’t happen because of coronavirus, so we started getting ready to adjust and pivot online for when we’d no longer be able to sustain brick and mortar operations.”

The Sanchezes are keeping their literary dream alive through the pandemic.

“Jaime’s always wanted to open a business and bring a piece of home to it,” Miranda, who is originally from Tijuana, told NBC News. “We felt that continuing that tradition of having a bookstore in the area would be a good mesh, not just of who we are as people but how we want to engage with our community. A community that works to sustain an independent bookshop has certain values.”

Independent bookstores are one of the hardest-hit businesses since readings and events in the spaces have been canceled.

Bookshop started to help struggling independent bookstores weather the storm. COVID-19 has left millions of people without jobs and businesses are having to close permanently because of the virus. Bookshop is giving independent bookstores a chance to survive the closures and social distancing.

Bookstores serve a vital role in communities. They give people a place to gather and share ideas. The easy access to literature can change the lives of children in underprivileged communities but allowing them to see themselves reflected in new lights. They also serve as a place to explore the world around you by flipping open a book cover.

If you have time on your hands and enjoy reading, check out Bookshop and build up that 2020 reading list.

READ: Celebrities Are Reading Children’s Books To Help Parents And Children Cope With COVID-19