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The Cuban Matriarch!

by Donna
(Toronto)

She's Fifty, Feisty and as Ferocious as Hurricane Ike!.

God Help you if you cross her!.

She will floor you with a look and deafen you with her roar.

She was raised by a mother who knew pre-revolution poverty. A father who fought in the revoluton, so this matriarch is one tough old shrew.

Storming Moncada would be a stroll in the park compared to crossing the Matriarch when she's angry.

Do so at your peril!.

You'll find her at the reception desk of hotels in tourist resorts. Despite the fact she acquired a Master's Degree in Technical Engineering from Moscow University, the matriarch has opted for tourism where she has access to Canadian Dollars, Euros and lots of Regalos from departing guests for whom she smiles sweetly when they slip her 5 Canadian at departure.

Cross her and all hell will break loose.

Only in Cuba is the guest always wrong.

Only in Cuba will the matriarc/ receptionist answer back, hurl abuse at you for daring to tell her she's the most unhelpful obnoxious person you've ever had the misfortune to cross.

The matriarch particularly likes to work at 2star hotels in Varadero.

The crafty old shrew realises that the 2 star attracts hordes of alcoholic Russian men, with a penchant for vodka, rum, tequila, round the clock!

The drunker that Ivan become the more generous with the tips.

At 3am the fierce 50 somethings Grace Jones lookalike can be seen stuffing 50 Euro bills down her bra as she smiles sweetly at Ivan and whispers ??????? in her best Moscow accent as he down his 15th vodka of the night and empties the bar of the 2 star Varadero hotel.

The Matriarch is infamous on travel review websites around the world. From Trip Advisor to Holiday Watchdog. Lonely Planet etc. you'd see references to her ... 'Demonic Receptionist... ' 'Vilest Receptionist Ever'.. 'Ferocious Old Witch'... in the various reviews.

Then manager of the hotels concerned flinches as he reads through the reviews and nods his head knowingly.

But her will do nothing to replace the Matriarch.

He too has been the subject of her fury and is far too scared to cross her. He would rather captain a Flotilla to Basra and be confronted by the Israeli army than incur the wrath of the Matriarch.

She knows she is safe in her job, which is assured for life.


The matriarch always pops up when her son finds a Yuma. So emasculated are her husband and sons that they think it perfectly natural for mom to pen their love letters.

Controlling every aspect of his relationship, even their email communication.

While the poor girl believes the loving messages she receives have been composed by Ernesto or Carlos.

She's wrong!!

It's the matriarch who has access to her local hospital/clinic computer where she has cleverly cultivated a very good relationship with a doctor there.

The matriarch has her fingers in many pies.

From composing the very loving emails to arranging the acomodation for the loving couple.

"My mother has found us a lovely room, so romantic, with views of the sea. And it's 'Muy Barrato' !!.

And it's only 30 CUC a night she writes laughing to herself. Rubbing her hands with glee at the prospect of taking in at least 850 CUC for the month.

Little does the unsuspecting Yuma realise that the sly old shrew is relocating the entire family down the road to granny's apartment while she pockets a nice little earner for the hovel, situated next to the noisiest motorway in Cuba and next door to a farm where the cockrel welcomes in the morning at 5am on the dot.

And the whiff of Cow-dung is overwhelming throughout the months of June to October.

If you've ever stayed at a hotel in Varadero or Guardalavaca you will have run into the Matriarch.

Be warned! Be sure to slip her a 'regalo' or better still 5 CUC or you will be subjected to her fury so ferocious you'll wish you never went on vacation.










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Nov 13, 2015
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The Cuban Matriarch! NEW
by: Anonymous

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Jun 25, 2010
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"You And Me 50 CUC" - Donna - I think I've Met Her!
by: Danny

lol Donna your post made me laugh so much, because I think I've met her at a hotel in Varadero.

Me and a bunch of buddies have just returned from a trip toVaradero.

We are in the Canadian military and managed to get a last minute deal of a week of sunshine beach and all the rum we could drink for a bargain $400 !!.

Man, that's cheaper than a weekend in Toronto!.

We stayed at a 3 star with access to a fabulous beach and next door to the Mambo Club where we could party till 6am. And party we did.

The hotel was basic as was the food. But the middle aged woman on reception was a pain in the butt!.

She was snappy, unhelpful and downright rude.She would give us wrong drectons, basically give jus the the run around.

Twice we inquired about a-la-carte and she sent us on a wild goode chase. In the end we did'nt both with the a la carte.

She was always asking us for gifts, she only smiled when she got out sunglasses or t.shirts.

Worst of all was when our buddy John told her he was expecting some friends to arrive at Midday. He had been to Varadero before and made friends in Cardenas, who had invited him to lunch. She knew full well he was waiting by the pool and asked that she phone the pool bar.

Guess what she did not!

John's friends waited two hours and left. He waited by the pool 3 hours. How nasty is that.

He felt it's because he had turned her down the night before when he rolled in late from the Mambo. She had propositioned him for 50 CUC.'You me for 50 CUC". No way he told her and laughed. He has a girl in Canada.

So Donna, we did run into the Matriarch in Varadero and man was she one nasty broad.




Jun 25, 2010
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My response to Nosey continued...
by: Donna

I always prefer to travel independently. Get to know the real Cubans.

Meet greet, converse and treat people politely and respectfully if I wanted an equal response from host country people professionally, or socially.

Many women who travel to Cuba are naive, and live to regret their actions which have cost them dearly.(Just read though Havana Guide)

You need to be street-wise, vivacious and flexible, of either gender, and you need to be able to stand up to the Matriarch should she cross your path and give as good as you get. Put her in her place. At the hotel report her to management.

I would not advise marrying a local, as I?ve just seen too many difficulties in these relationships over the years.

Jun 25, 2010
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A Great Post Nosey.
by: Donna

I laughed when I read your post. It's so true, and women reading should take your advice.


In answer to your question Nosey if I've based the Matriarch on several women I have met in hotels in Cuba.

However you will also find her in the cities, small villages where survival is the name of the game.

The daughters of the Revolution know all about having to survive.

They've scrimped and saved throughout their lives and will use any means necessary in order to do so.Such as orchestrating and manipulating their son's love lives.

Read thorough the pages on Havana Guide, the sad stories of the women who've been duped by charmers, manly met at resorts.

The plain older woman who married the pint size P.Dddy/playboy who has not had a proper job in 10 years and who sees himself as a 'D.J.Yet she has stuck with him. Why??.

It seems lack of self esteem is what drives these women to meet parasites and maintain them.


You can bet your bottom dollar that the hustler/player's mom had a hand that relationship and continues to do so. No doubt the plain older woman is provided with a shopping list each time she returns with her family to Cuba, and it costs her a small fortune.

My trips to Cuba have been all about my passion for travel and not about looking for romance. Not at all. The friends I made during my travels will be lifelong friends not some flash in the pan romance. I have studied psychology and am good at observing human behaviour and I realise that survival is the name of the game for most Cubans. This is where the Matriarch plays her role.

You see 'Resolver' (Survival) is the then name of the game of in Cuba for these women.

The Spanish word ?Resolver? takes on multiple meanings different from ?to solve a problem.? 

It can mean one of several things: 

1) to buy something (that is scarce) on the black market; 

2) to ask someone else for something needed;

3) it can be a transitive or intransitive verb. 

In other words, you can be helping a friend by giving him something he needs (e.g.medicine), or trying to obtain something ?under the table?.

Some young people (mainly between 20-30) just want to leave (mainly for Miami or Europe: Italy or Spain mostly) by whatever means necessary. Marrying a foreigner or a job contract abroad.

 Some wanted to live from day-to-day; some wanted to complain about the living conditions.  Others were interested in passing the time-drinking rum/engaged in sex with inebriate tourists on resorts.


Jun 24, 2010
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Play them at thier own game
by: Nosey

Hi donna, another great post. :-)

I go to Cuba every year, sometimes twice a year, I have encountered the Mario's, the carlos',etc but I give them a wide berth.

I found the best thing that worked for me after being propositioned/ chatted up/your beautiful etc a few times, was to have some cards printed up in Spanish, very much like business cards, and the text on them was very straight to the point.

'Do not ask me to set up a bank account' 'do not ask me to bring you a mobile phone' ' I will not set up a email address', and 'no, I do not wish to meet your family' 'so just please f*^% off and try your luck somewhere else'

So when I get approached, I hand them a card,they smile, read the card, the look on thier faces is priceless. :-)

Jun 24, 2010
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You'll Find Her All Over Cuba
by: Donna

Nosey I was not referring to just one Matriarchin particular.

You'll find her all over Cuba.

And many of us will recognise her from what I've written, and encountered her in a hotel, or casa.

I have encountered such a firebrand at a 2 star hotel in Varadero. Amazonian and ferocious as Grace Jones or an older angrier Naomi Campbell. She would slam the tips glass in front of drunken Russians and yell tips in Russian loudly!.

But the matriarch of Spanish descent is also very much in evidence.

The nasty 2 star hotel coffee bar lady would follow guests into the restaurant and shout at them for the crime of inadvertenly walking off with the cup and saucer and like a sergant major stand over them and demand they retrieve the cup and saucer from a hot kitchen where overworked staff had better thing to do than to retrieve the cutlers from the dish washer.

This nasty piece of work took joy in humilating guests. She was a skilled technical engineer but opted to work at a 2 star in Varadero where she could make a small fortune in tips from drunken Russian men late at night.

A vile woman, who's never likely to be fired. Just read through holiday review websites and you will see references to this type of matriarch usually to be found at reception.

She made good coffee though, had the only decent coffee making machine in the little hotel, and knew that this would ensure a regular flow of guests who cowered in her ferocious presence.

I have also encountered the cunning older matriarch who manipulates and emasculates her con. She is practically ever overbearing posessive mother who will control her son's every move and try to make a fast buck or CUC from any contact he has with a Yuma.

Not sure if you are aware but the Cuban man you are writing is hardly ever the one at the keyboards replying to you. He rarely has access to the net or a computer.

Those loving emails are almost always composed by his novia, sister, female friend and 9 times out of ten his mother - the matriarch who stands to make a financial killing should from her son's relationship with a Yuma, and in her eyes she will always be a Yuma.


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