6 01 2011

Me roasting pig on spit New Year's Eve 2009


One of the objectives in the discussion document that has been prepared for the forthcoming congress of the Cuban Communist Party is to have an increase in the number of people who are self-employed. Many enterprising Cubans already run successful small businesses, many without permission and therefore operating in the informal economy. I experienced at first hand on New Year’s Eve both the entrepreneurial flair of some Cubans and also the difficulties that they sometimes have in translating innovative ideas into successful services.

The Cuban tradition on New Year’s Eve is to have a family party at which a whole pig will be roasted. In the street where I am staying, the pavements have grass verges and a number of people had dug trenches in the verge outside their house, filled it with charcoal and erected a spit to roast a pig. My friend had such a party at her house last year, but this year her mother did not want the mess from the pig roasting and partying.

However, my friend heard of a service being offered by some enterprising campesinos from outside the city. They would deliver a whole roast pig, served in a palm frond, along with the traditional accompaniments of congris (rice and beans); frituras and salad. Some friends of the family were taking advantage of this service and they took her out to the farm where it all took place on the afternoon of the 31st. There she saw about 30 pigs all being roasted and a hive of activity. The cost was 1 CUC (about £0.72) per pound of pig. She decided that she too would order one, asking for it to be delivered at about 8.30pm.

Being Cuba, like elsewhere in the Caribbean, we did not expect the food to arrive on time. However, after about 90 minutes we got a bit worried and went to see the family friends, who live nearby. Their food had just arrived, 2 hours late, and looked delicious. Everything was presented in boxes fashioned from palm fronds. We expected that ours might be about 2 hours late and went home to await its arrival.

However, two hours came and went, as did three hours. When it had not arrived by midnight, we gave up hoping and just enjoyed the drink instead. At about 1.30, we went to bed, tired and hungry. At 2am we were awoken by a knock on the door – the food had arrived. We informed the driver that we had wanted the food in 2010, not 2011, and were no longer hungry. He tried to tempt us by telling us that the food was still hot, but he was not successful.

We are not entirely sure of the reason for the late delivery (by five and a half hours), nor have we yet had our deposit returned. However, it does show that running a successful business requires more than just good ideas.

On a more positive note, some other local people have been running a successful pizza delivery business for the last few years, with the pizzas being delivered on the trays in which they are cooked, by youths on bicycles. It’s not quite Pizza Hut, but a valuable service nevertheless and shows the possibilities for the future.



One response

7 01 2011

I’ll be going to Cuba for my first time in April, I’ll be following your posts 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: