Jorge Milanes’s Diary

Cuba’s Vanishing Culinary Traditions

November 12, 2014 | 4 comments

Last night, my neighbor treated me to a homemade dessert that left me speechless – a true delicacy. Her husband had brought a bit of cow’s milk from the countryside and, using half of it, she made a curdled milk sweet.

Cuba Goes from Motels to Rooms for “Quickies”

November 5, 2014 | 3 comments

“Osmel, do you know anyone who rents out rooms for the night?” “You mean, for quickies?” he replies, trying to clarify my question. “I’m asking because your house is on a busy avenue, Via Blanca. You could set up a business like that.”

My Neighbor’s Death

October 29, 2014 | No Comments »

“Did you hear about the accident that happened on the Monumental roadway half an hour ago? Two elderly mulattos driving a beige Moskovich at high speed ran into an electrical post. They say they’re from your neighborhood.”

Havana’s Beggars

October 7, 2014 | 3 comments

It’s 9 in the morning. Obispo street, in Havana’s old town, is seeing one of its busiest mornings. Workers, tourists, students, artists and beggars are its main witnesses. A mother carries a baby that didn’t sleep well the night before in her arms.

Entitlement: On Cuban Mass Psychology

September 30, 2014 | 2 comments

“What are they selling today?” asks the old woman as she hurriedly gets in line at the butcher’s. “The soy mincemeat and hot dogs,” someone replies. The butcher, who’s overheard the conversation, says in a loud tone of voice: “You don’t get any hot dogs, only the mincemeat.”

Choosing One’s Path, Outside Cuba

September 15, 2014 | No Comments »

“Dear Jorge, I write you from beautiful Mexico, where I am doing my novitiate, a crucial step in my training,” my former workmate and friend Osman Aviles wrote me in an email. Osman has devoted part of his youth to the study of Cuban poets.

Bicycles and the Future of Cuban Transportation

September 7, 2014 | No Comments »

“I’ve always had a bicycle, but I’m in love with this particular one because it was tailor-made,” my brother Luis said to me, polishing the bike he brought from Ecuador. When he saw I was interested in the subject, he began to tell me about bicycles, cyclists and the State policy towards these in Quito.

One CUC or 25 Cuban Pesos, More or Less

September 2, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“You’re twenty-five cents short, sir,” the cashier at Havana’s Villa Panamericana store said to me, noticing I had given her less money than I had to by mistake. I searched my wallet and pockets thoroughly and only found regular peso notes, what we refer to as “Cuban pesos” here.

Experienced Cuban Teacher Publishes Piano Playing Manual

August 25, 2014 | No Comments »

We hadn’t seen one another in several years. I ran into him on Obispo street in Old Havana as I was coming out of work. We started talking after the initial surprise wore off. We talked for two hours. Among other things, he told me he’d been giving piano lessons to young people in Boyeros for ten years.

Street Tragedies in Havana

August 18, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“You son of a bitch!” the young man yells, lunging at the other fellow at the crowded bus stop. “You’re the one who’s been peeping at my wife through the bathroom window for days now!” He raises a fist, ready to pound the other man’s face with all his pent-up fury.