Jorge Milanes’s Diary

Havana Restaurants and Orisha Offerings

March 14, 2016 | 3 comments

At lunch time, I walk around near my place of work in search of a coffee shop or restaurant where I can eat. Finding one isn’t always easy for, though there are many private and State establishments in Havana, I can’t always afford eating there and I have to like the place.

Black on the Outside, White on the Inside

March 5, 2016 | 4 comments

“The situation is black,” an elderly woman says to another while choosing tomatoes at a market stand, referring to how difficult things are and, as the context suggests, the high price of food products.

The Wrong Place?

January 22, 2016 | No Comments »

“I want you to take me to Monte and Cienfuegos, to the place we went to see La China last year. She’s a volcano in bed!”
This is a daily request heard from Cubans and foreigners alike.

The Miracle Workers: On Cubans Living Abroad

December 2, 2015 | 6 comments

Unconsciously, a great many Cubans long for a brother, cousin, friend, son or anyone they know to come see them from abroad, in the form a prodigal, generous, miracle-working visitor.

A Peso for a Tart: On Cuba’s Elderly

October 23, 2015 | 7 comments

The silver-haired woman slowly nears the entrance to the coffee shop. A fine mesh of wrinkles cover her face, her old garments, thrown carelessly on, are creased. She holds a bag and cane in one hand and looks for something with the other, but can’t find it.

“I’m an Abakua”

September 11, 2015 | 1 Comment »

“Dude, I gave him a good stabbing, ‘cause you can’t hit an Abakua member. The person who lays a finger on me is dead!” one of the young men on the bus said out loud.

Returning from the Shadows

September 4, 2015 | No Comments »

“I made arrangements from home and went to Pinar del Rio. I’ll tell you what happened later,” Oliver says to me, his face aglow, as we go up in the elevator. At lunch, he tells me he had a great welcome…

Back to the Roots, in the Shadows

August 26, 2015 | No Comments »

“She’s an exceptionally beautiful woman, but she doesn’t do it for me anymore. I think it best to turn my life around completely,” Oliver, one of the workmates I sometimes converse with, says to me rather worried…

The Businesses of Cuba’s Self-Employed

August 11, 2015 | 4 comments

“Buddy, you’ve seen how much effort I’ve put into running a tasteful and proper business,” says Hector, a neighbor of mine who recently became self-employed, opening a cafeteria at the intersection of I and 27 street in Cojimar.

The Market Logic of Cuban Santeria

June 3, 2015 | 3 comments

This Afro-Cuban religion, conceived to improve the health of the ill, has become one of the most lucrative enterprises one can pursue in Cuba. It has become almost the contrary of what its spiritual essence dictates.