Olga the Successful Cuban Barbershop Owner

I meet Olga when I decided to get an authentic Cuban haircut and shave in Old Habana. Olga lives a lifestyle much different from the typical Cubans. She is a successful independent business owner that operates a barbershop that’s been around since the 1940’s. Her barbershop she tells me has been documented in several films and travel documentaries. Walking in you couldn’t have asked for a more authentic barbershop. The barbershop showcased an old patina look that depicted it’s aging days. The barber chairs had rust all around them with some having almost no base left, glass with fading spots, and all vintage tools of trade lying around. Even with all these old aspects going against it she gave me one of the best shave and haircuts of my life. Locals came in and out using telephone and having chit chats like a local barbershop. Throughout my session she talked politics, Cuba, and her life living in Havana.

Olga describes her life much differently than most Cubans I meet on my trip. She didn’t complain about her living standards nor the justifications of her communist government rule. Interesting as well she was the only Cuban I spoke to that didn’t ask me about Trump or bash him as most did. As soon as you say that you are from America everyone asks about him. She makes a good living through the barbershop working on the weekdays and traveling on the weekends to visit her family in Cien Fuego. When I brought up the question about the 14 CUC monthly salary the government pays its citizens she informed me that most should be happy and accept it. Her argument is that everything is given to her and there is no need for more, its only extra spending money. The government supports its citizens through standardized living arrangements such as utilities, housing, medical, etc. are which are all paid for. She shares with the stories of people moving to the states having to pay everything out of pocket struggling to live. Olga did share with me that the government has started increasing pay since the embargo has been lifted and things are starting to change. She and many others I meet agree that it’s a good change, but are worried that the new found tourism revenue will not be evenly distributed among its citizens.

It was a pleasure meeting Olga If you ever need a haircut visit her barbershop Barberia Salao Moderno near the capitol building down the street from El Floridita bar. It was super cheap for a shave and haircut costing me only 10 CUC.

Below is a time-lapse footage of me getting a haircut and shave.

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