Cool story. I definitely wasn't expecting an anecdote which involved the president. Hopefully you remembered to get a picture with him. I assume you lived in Havana, and that you had many positive experiences living there?
I lived there for 10 years. I liked the non-party people and the beaches. Havana city was at its worst after the Soviets left and Old Havana, which looks European, was almost in ruins with many buildings falling down, During my time there, it's restoration began and by the time I left enormous progress had been made in saving it.
But every foreign company has to work 50-50 with the Cuban government and that was very frustrating. In the sense that Fidel invited foreigners in after the Soviets left, because the Cubans had no experience at anything. Yet they had been taught in school that they were the best at everything, so tried to run things. Yes, the work part was dreadful, but it was interesting to be in Havana during the "special period" when things were tough. So tough that Fidel let the rafters leave, as long as there were no children with them. They put their rafts of spare tyres in the water below my balcony. I shudder to think of the numbers that were never seen again.
At that time also, some people were desperate enough to hijack the little ferry boats in Havana harbour. It was almost a tourist attraction to go to the harbour and maybe see one make a break for the ocean. But that ended when Fidel ordered a patrol boat to use a high power hose on a boat and some women and children were washed overboard.
I have one good closeup of myself in animated conversation with Fidel and I just happen to be waving my finger at him when the shutter clicked.