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dimanche 28 juin 2009

Welcome to Nuestra Isla Rica.. Mi Cuba

It is searingly hot here in Habana. Unrelenting and burning through to your bones.

This morning I left the house of my sister in Miami at 530 am, arriving at Avis Rent A Car at the Miami Airport, to return the car and then a line to check into flights to Nassau, with the usual share of Cuban American Transporters, called Mules because they ferry goods to Cuba for a price. One has to be careful about their friendliness since it has always a motive, sure enough Gema from Marianao said Hello and in the end she asked me whether I could take one of her bags since it would cost her less.I said I would ask the agent who flatly denied it. Lo Siento, I said to Gema, at the same time, this crass materialization of Cuban friendship. Same thing happened as I was standing waiting for the Luggage at Nassau Airport, a cuban man came to say hello and spoke in extremely bad English, the regalia of cuban shoes, gold chains, gold bracelets and gold rings, and Low Class, I will pay you to take one bag for me. I said politely, I have a bag to take and I cannot do any more. I noticed that they both stopped their smiles at me and were no longer interested in asking me questions about Cuba. Since I did have the chance of the ears for the few minutes they were plotting to exploit me, in answer to their question, How is cuba, I answer: the ten years I spent there it was sheer paradise. They want to contradict, these exploiters of the very same country they have fled, but they were in the process of begging me for a favour.. ah well. I am much better off without such friendships. I have felt that th e best Cubans do live inside Cuba!

The immigration and Customs at Nassau was quick so was the check in on Bahamasair to Havana. I was left with over two hours to wait, fortunately I was at the only Bahamian food outlet in the airport (the others are Dunkin Donuts, Wendys, and many candy stores), I could somehow pick up a wireless signal, so I was able to call my friends in Miami and Paris.

Smooth flight, but some bumps as we approached Havana. I was full of trepidation, my love for this island has its foes, some unknown to me (I really don’t care about them), but some from quarters from people wo matter to me.How I can tell them, I need to come to Cuba, it is not an obsession but a Humanitarian need for me.. I laughingly remembered an UmonHon Indian remarking, while everyone is trying to get out, our doctor is trying to get in.

Very quickly through Immigration and Customs in Havana and my friends were waiting. The lady trying to match the luggage tag to luggage spoke in english to me, I said why are you speaking in English to me, she laughs, you look like you are in disguise (desfraze), are you a Hindou or an oriental.. Si, yo soy oriental, pero de Santiago de Cuba, and we laugh..

The drive from the airport to the city. How many many times have I taken this trip? They should give you a special visa, joked my friends. They drove me to the house where I stay and we shared a good cup of coffee, first one of the many to come, I am sure..

It is obvious, I have come back to the land of talkers and social interactions, we were all talking non stop as if we were afraid of a silence, I knew what is the best restaurant in our part of is the torre on top of the Focsa building with its magnificent view of town. I would like to go if I have a chance..

Two Spanish visitors joined us, more chatter, they were from south of spain but still found this heat intolerable. Both have fallen in love with Cuba, one more than once, but this is the usual story. I tell allthose who care to listen to me, when a tourist comes here, whether from Melbourne Australia or Malaga Spain or Moldova.. I can guarantee you, they will love Cuba. In fact it was Pico Iyer who said, when I chatted with him after his presentation in Portland at Powells, Every one falls in love with Cuba… but don’t make the mistake of falling in love with a Cuban… I know what he means and I issue the same warning, for falling in love with a cuban is an expensive business. Cuba is the most expensive country in the world to make a telephone call to! ( Corea del Norte does not count!)..and your chances of falling inlove with a North Korean resident in Pyongyang is slim indeed.. also they don’t dance all that well..

I have been here four hours, I have already made two new friends, saw three good friends I had come to see ( I had come to spend time with five good friends and my mother)..

The dinner would be at the paladar Los Amigos..