Just like a Cuban
Another time, I spent a whole week (five days!) working as a teacher’s assistant in a large public school.
It's an old journalistic stunt that is supposed to allow you to learn first hand how other people live and work, so that you could then go away and write about it.
It’s a lot of fun but in the end, pretty meaningless, of course.
I mean, how much can you really learn about the hard work of a kitchen hand after a day? Bugger all. And let's face it; at the end of the day, the reality is you always go back to your comfortable cocoon.
And so we come to Anita Snow, now in her eighth year as AP bureau chief in Havana.
In her latest dispatch, Ms Snow has announced that she will spend all of June trying to eat like an ordinary Cuban – as opposed to a foreigner with ready access to hard cash and well-stocked supermarkets.
This means our intrepid reporter will rely on the food rations doled out every month by the Castro regime as part of a rationing system that has been in place for 45 very, very long years.
So far, she has explained what’s included in the monthly kitty and it’s not much, as you can see here.
Ms Snow has also told us that the basket of goods provided by the regime costs Cubans the equivalent of just USD1.30 a month, which sounds like a bargain, until you discover the average monthly wage is just USD16.00.
We have also been told that the basket is “a safety net for basic food needs” that will last for 10 to 15 days.
Safety net? Not if you are an ordinary Cuban with no access to hard currency.
You see, once the rationed food runs out after a week or two, your options are to either find food on the black market, which is illegal and costly, or to visit a government-owned “shopping” where you can buy whatever is on offer freely but only if you have hard currency.
And at prices that are well above what we would normally pay in the West.
We will see how Ms Snow copes but so far, there is one important point she has failed to mention.When the rationing system was introduced by Castro in 1962, the dictator-in-the-making promised Cubans that the ration book - la libreta - was a temporary measure that would last at most 12 months.
It's been a long 12 months, alright.