“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.
By a strange twist of fate I am unaware of, my first trip abroad took me to the place I had wished to visit the most. This trip served to confirm something I already suspected: what I like most about Brazil is its sensual language and its boundless music. (26 photos)
As it turns out, it seems everyone who leaves Cuba is having a rough time. Many of my old friends kept in touch and sent me the occasional email shortly after leaving, but, a few months later, next to no one writes me. When they do write, their messages are brief and do not offer much information about how they’re doing.
Today, my memories take me back to a certain figure that was a common sight in Cuba’s countryside before the revolution. I am referring to “wanderers.” These were people who, tired of looking for a job and going hungry – having lost their homes because they were unable to pay the rent – had no other choice but to become beggars.
I wonder what kind of debate we would have if everyone exposed what they are protecting from the word go, where everyone was aware of their unavowed commitments, and whether that could be a point of departure for change, beyond cyberspace, in the tangible Cuba.
Until some time ago, I thought everyone got the same daily bread roll in Havana. Then I discovered that I was wrong: the quality of the bread one gets depends on where one lives. This is not officially established, of course, but it happens this way in practice.
She has high blood pressure and has a blood pressure monitor on a small table next to the door to her house, in case she has to leave for the hospital in a rush. She checks her blood pressure obsessively several times a day.
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.
A sign calling amateur artists to participate in a “Cuban music” competition (inclusive of “traditional songs, son, ballads, boleros and guarachas”) explicitly excludes rap and reggaeton as eligible genres. The organizers of the contest are evidently clear on what qualifies as “Cuban” music and what does not.
I haven’t felt the inclination to write about my experiences among Venezuelans for some time now. When one’s happy, you see, one tends to forget everything else. And I couldn’t be happier, because, in addition to the joy I always feel, I now I have the joy of feeling right at home, feeling as though I were in Cuba, that is.