A modest, practical tip for sneaking around Apartheid
My Spanish is really pretty good, although spoken with an accent-
so I can never pass if subjected to a lot of scrutiny. Here's how
I avoid the scrutiny:
Let's say I want to go to the Tropicana and pay in pesos, or take
a taxi ride long distance in a shared taxi, or eat at a peso place.
First- I try to dress Cuban- a pair of partially broken shoes, locally
bought clothing. Next, I carry a copy of a Spanish language newspaper,
or better yet, a ragged Spanish language book from one of the local
bookstores (well, not to the Tropicana). Most importantly- I'm with
some Cubans, and the prearranged plan is that when we pass through
inspection, someone talks to me in Spanish as rapidly as possible
and when there is a pause I interject something innocuous like "
asi, no" or "olvidalo". It could be as simple as
'si' or 'no'. The idea is to pretend that you are involved in a
complicated discussion and don't have any attention left over for
the guy who is looking for extranjeros. This little trick has worked
A big success along these lines was on a shared car from Playa del
Este to Havana. Even after the newspaper and the long conversation,
the driver looked at me and asked, "Turista?" I answered
'Ojala!" and went back to my paper. The ojala here means something
like "IF ONLY I was a tourist! Everybody laughed and I paid
just a few pesos.
And this trick works the other way too! If I want to pass any Cuban
friend into any hotel, or onto a prohibited beach area, or wherever-
When we approach the guard, I get involved in a rapid fire conversation
with my friend, something like, "If you're not feeling up to
it right now, we could rest for a while before getting something
to eat, or would you rather go out and look for something now?"
The longer the sentence the better. My Cuban friend knows in advance
to say 'not now' when I pause. Then I go on with another couple
of hundred words, and when I pause, my friend says "OK then".
The trick is to pay no attention whatsoever to the guy doing the
inspection, like you are so involved in a discussion that as far
as you two are concerned he doesn't exist.
It seems that very few guards dare to break up what seems to be
an important conversation between 2 yumas, especially when the 'Cuban
yuma' appears to understand really rapid fire English! (or Italian,
French or even Dutch)
The other method for passing the boundaries is, of course, bribery,
which I think is more difficult. However, years ago any Cuban friend
could buy me a Cuban train ticket for 5 or 10 dollars from Havana
to Santiago. Some of the money went to the person selling the ticket,
and some of the money went to the woman in charge of each train
car. I was even told that this was possible for air travel, although
that's something that I've never tried. It's been years since I've
travelled on a Cuban train ticket, mostly because I've spent so
many miserable nights on Cuban trains that now I would probably
go by Viazul even if the trains were free. Although the trains are
MUCH more interesting, for the people who have never been on them!
post is more for the lurkers who are afraid to ask for advice. For
you old wooly Cubanites...please add your two pesos worth. One of
the most annoying things about the casa particulars I have stayed
in are the matches used to light the gas cooking stove. They are
not like normal matches but then again....these damn fire breathing
things they call stoves are not normal either!!! The matches that
the Cubans have are about half the normal length and about a quarter
of the with of what we are use to. Also most of the burners on the
stove are home made. Every time I try to light one of the things,
I lose most of the hair on the back of my arm clean up to the arm
pit!!!! One my next trip I'm taking one of those $3.00 barbeque
lighters with the flint in them. This will save my knuckles second
degree burns. The other thing I"m taking are hand operated egg beaters.
The cuban women had never seen this "miracle machine" before and
had one woman offer to spend the night if I let here have the one
I had brought. Alas...I had promised it to the Cuban granny already
so my virginity stayed intact. (Ya...Right).
Grandmother of one of my Cuban friends is the same age as Fidel.
She had her son translate this joke for me as she does not speak
English. She claimes that she wants to die before Fidel because
it will be a hell of a long wait if she is behind him while he explains
his life to God.
I was walking about 4 blocks north of the University late one afternoon
when I heard this funny clacking noise coming from a bar. Curiosity
got me so I popped in to have a look at what was happening. Behind
the bar was a young guy about 25 with an old man sitting on the
other side. Between them was an old chess board, so worn that most
of the black squares were just about gone. The game was just under
way and the clacking noise was the fast and furious movement of
the cheap plastic chess pieces between the squares. The old man
turned and looked at me for a second when I came in and the poor
old guy sure looked funny. He had really thick glasses but in the
middle was extra lenses that looked like two magnifying glasses.
They made the pupils in his eyes look so big that with his unkept
hair he reminded me of one of those Great Horned Owls we get here
every so often.
The pieces were moving very fast and it soon became apparent that
the old guy was loosing badly. Several of his key pieces were already
gone. Three more moves and he lost 2 more pawns and a rook. The
kid started to grin when the old man moved his queen and said something
I did not catch but the smile quickly vanished of the bar tenders
face. Checkmate!!!!! I almost cheered for the old guy. The kid was
so busy attacking, he forgot to watch his ass. The old man received
a beer from the cooler, obviously the wager, and motioned me to
sit down and try my luck. "No way buddy". This guy was
a master and I left a dollar on the table for him for giving me
another one of those special lessons in life that I like to collect.
He shook my hand and we parted but I know that this is one guy I
will never forget.
friend "P" is an amazing guy. He called me over one night
to have dinner with him and his family. This was just the beginning.
It was made of fish like tuna mixed with mayo, topped with spaggetti
and a boiled and peeled quail egg. He tried to convince me that
the eggs were from his budgies. You got to love Cuban humour.
story just for the Dutchies
On my second trip to Havana I learned just how much the Cuban love
licorice. They do not seem to care if it is black, red or blue.....they
just go nuts over the stuff. I had just unpacked in a casa on Neptuno
when another Canadian showed up with a couple of girls on his arms.
"Want to go dancing in about two hours?" he asked. Just
then, one of the girls spied a small bowl of Dutch type licorice
bits I had just poured out. Before I could stop her, she grabbed
one of the little nibs and popped it into her mouth. I don't know
if the Yanks on this board are familiar with Dutchie Licorice but
the stuff is half licorice and half salt!!!!! This cute little black
girl got a real funny look on her face and a second later, that
hunk of licorice was jet propelled across the kitchen. Her tongue
hung out so far she could have given Hope II a run for her money.
she ran to the sink and started to suck up water and spit it out
to wash the taste out. The other girl stood there with huge eyes
and looked like she was going to rabbit. I almost pissed my pants
laughing. The funny thing is that almost ALL Cubans I have met are
polite to a fault and would have asked if they could have some licorice.
Serves her right for not asking.
I invited the old guy and HIS two girls back later for dinner but
only two of them showed up. I guess the litle black girl was afraid
I would poison her again.
I was down in Havana during August, I gravitated to my favorite
haunt, The Sofia Cafeteria on La Rampa. I love watching the interaction
of the locals, police, tourists, hookers and street hustlers. I
was also keeping an eye out for the "Toad from Montreal".
The last thing I wanted was to get hosed down with recycled Crystal
After about two hours, I headed back for my casa when I passed a
bar. I noticed a twenty something black girl dressed real trampy
come out but when I went to step around her she suddenly grabbed
me by the wrist. "I suck and fucky fucky real good.....no expensive....you
like?". "No thank you, I'm not interested" I replied.
"No no, I show you" and she made a grab at my crotch.
I side stepped it and repied more forcefully that I was not interested
and to let go of my wrist. She refused to let go. Suddenly she changed
tact. "Give me dollar...just uno dollar, you give me dollar".
"No!" I replied, starting to get a little pissed with
this fool. "I'm not going to give you anything Period!!!".
Just when I thought she was going to let go of my wrist, she moved
forward and BIT ME on the shoulder!!!!!! Son of a BITCH that hurt!!!!!!!!
She let go right way and ran down the street. Mean while I'm hopping
up and down, pissed right off knowing the bite was going to leave
a hell of a mark. I checked quick. No broken skin but I had a pretty
good sized welt comming up on the meaty part of my shoulder. "Damn"
I thought. "This is going to be fun explaining to Mrs. Rainbow.
I had five days left so I figured it would be gone by the time I
got home but NOOOOOOOOO! It turned from the initial red to black
and blue to yellowish green as it healed. It still looked like shit
when I got back to Canada. I could have tried the "dog bite
story" but there is no way my woman was going to fall for that
one so I told her the truth. "Honey.....I was minding my own
business walking down the street and got bit by a Cuban Vampire".
All I got was "That's nice dear....come to bed now....you just
had a bad dream". Sheesh! I think I will try the truth more
Before you read-on....
If you want to attend a baseball-game in Havana, here are some tips
'Rainbow', a member from the GreenScreen.
1) Make damn sure you hit the washroom
BEFORE you go to the game. The bathrooms
in the stadium are enough to make a goat puke.
2) Don't eat anything that looks like a hamburger. It ain't beef
baby and we are
still not sure what it was but the mongrel dogs outside refused
to eat it too.
3) Don't sit anywhere near a HUGE black guy dressed from head to
toe in blue
spandex and a white wig, swinging an 8 foot fiberglass bat. He is
like a mascot
and has a set of lungs you can hear in Miami.
4) Follow the Cubans. Scream and jump up and down when they do.
It does not
mater if you know why. Just do it.
5) Have a blast. Baseball does not get any better than this.
Cubans pay HOW MUCH for electricity?????
Russ, Mary, Diana and I are sitting around the dinner table, wolfing
back a pretty good meal even if I say so myself, when the girls
start in about how much it is costing them to maintain their homes
and eat. Diana starts in about he increase in the cost of power
so Russ naturally askes just how much it was last month. "IT
COST ME $1.05 LAST MONTH!!!" she howels. Poor Russ almost choked
on his pork chop and went to say something but Diana had up a head
of steam and kept right on going. "60 cents for water and $1.65
for gas....When is it going to end!!!!!!!". Russ just sat there
with his mouth open in disbelief but he saw me shaking my head and
kept quiet. After dinner he pulled me aside and asked if he should
let the girls in on what out hydro, water and gas bills were last
month. "No you had better not", I told him. "NO unless
you want to send them both to hospital with heart failure",
From the reciepts she has given me, she pays about 8 cents a kilowatt
for power and 4.9 cents a cubic meter for gas. I know we now pay
4.3 cents per KW in Ontario but we are HUGE energy hogs compaired
to the Cuban. Then again, they are not freezing off their cute little
butts at -20. My hydro bill last month was probably more than a
whole block of Cubans.
This is kinda like comparing apples and watermelons but I thought
it might be interesting anyways.
to get some money, so I went to the nearset bank in the city, must
have been on Indepencia. When I crossed the street, some employee
opened the door for me, and I was glad to see there were only 3
people before me...By the time I was finished and stepped outside
and my Cuban friend told me if I had seen the row at the corner?...no
I didn't, at least 20 people were waiting there to do their banking....foreigners
don't have to line up. If I had seen this earlier I would have lined
up as well.....Very handy to know is that when you come in you ask
"La Ultima?" and then you know who is the one before you....
carefull with Cuban home-made rum...While we where walking exploring
Camaguey, we found out Polo Montanez was performing that night at the Plaza de la Revolution. We decided
to go on with our trip a day later then we planned, now I know it
was a good decision because Polo died November 2002. Anyway, at
the concert it is usual to bring your own bottle of rum, we bought
a bottle Havana Club 7 anos at the dollar store, but Cubans bring
their own home made rum which tastes awfull but at these ocasions
you won't mention the difference :) After 2 plastic cups of this
alcohol I was totally drunk. My Cuban friend warned me, but I wouldn't
listen.....it is POISON!
time I found a perfect casa particular with a relaxing patio in
the middle of the city. The woman had worked for Batista as a secretary in the years before the revolution, al of her family
are living in Miami, she was the only of the family who was still
living in Cuba togetter with her gay son who was a fantastic cook.
By leaving the Casa, because I was moving on, I got a very cute
neckless with a tiny turtle on it. At the ride back, I passed Camaguey
again, and the gift worked...I stayed in the same Casa.....I've
heard this Casa is closed now....thats a shame, it was such a fantastic
place to stay.
to see how the barbers are working in these very old furnished shops.
A friend of mine has a very funny tradition. Wherever he is in the
world, he always visit a barber. Same for Cuba. The first time he
payed $2, and the year after he asked a different barber what he
had to pay after his hair was done...."You may decide yourself..."
he said. I guess Cuban barbers aren't used to foreign customers....
Cubans can teach the world
1) How to get 120 watts of noise out of 40 watt speakers
in the back of a Lada
2) How to cook and eat every part of a pig INCLUDING the
3) How to cook rice perfectly in those weird pressure cookers.
4) How to rebuild a carburator with an old screwdriver, pliers
and a safety pin
5) How to bullshit the cops better than anyone else in the
6) How to drive a 57 Volkswagen to Havana Airport with NO
BRAKES and make it!!
7) How to build rafts out of any damn thing that floats and
paddle to America.
8) How to teach this old dog some new survival tricks even
I had not thought of.
And finally how to laugh at their situation and themselves each
and every day. I swear that it is this ability that keeps them sane!
is an old bag lady who lives on the street in Ciego de Avila. She
is something out of Charles Dickens. She wears rags and sometimes
only one shoe, different shoes, or no shoes. She never begs. She
washes herself in any flowing water she can find on the street.
We were eating chicken legs in an outdoor cafe and put a
plate of bones on the ground for the dogs. She ran up and grabbed
the plate over the objections of the dogs. They started barking
furiously as soon as they saw her approach. Those dogs knew her.
She got the plate, and the dogs chased after her barking all the
way, while she was sucking on the bones and swatting them.
One of the girls at our table grabbed a plate with an uneaten
leg and chased after her to give it to her. The damn dogs knew exactly
what she was doing, and chased after her barking like hell.
I have never seen anything like this. The dogs treated the
bag lady as if she was one of them and competition for their food.
a Casa Particular in Cienfuegos a guy found himself a special job....Most
tourists have a problem "Where do I park my car for the night?"
The owner of the Casa said "no problem, park your car to the
other side of the street and no one will touch it"... When
I had to go to the bathroom at 3am that night, I saw a guy sitting
in the window watching our car....For a whole night guarding he
arriving in Cienfuegos and got my stuff placed in a Casa Particular
I searched for a Paladar to have diner. So it seemed the owners
of the paladar were 2 gay guys and the place was full of single
men, so I thought this might be a gay meeting place.....Wrong...this
paladar was a place to pick up Jineteras. After some research, it
seems that Cienfuegos is one of the cities with the most sextourism
near Neptuno street (Habana Centro) when an old guy came past with
an old milk crate with these little green fruits that are on stems
kind of like grapes but a little bigger. I got 10 for a peso and
tried one. HOLY SHIT!!! they are the worst thing I have ever had
in my life. I would rather drink a bottle of Buckeys than eat one
of those things again. Damn.... they were horrible and all the Cuban
kids cracked up laughing at the fat white guy with his tongue hanging
down around his waist. One of the ladies felt sorry for me and brought
out a glass of water so I could wash the taste out of my mouth.
I gave the rest to the kids who took great delight in munching these
things down in front of me just to watch me shiver at the thought
of them. It will be an aweful cold day in hell before I eat one
of those again.
The kids told me what they were but I think my mind has blocked
it out as a safety mechanism because I can't remember what they
were called. As far as I am concerned they should be called "Batista's
March 2002 - Six Canadians are believed
to be among 17 people killed when their plane crashed in central
Cuba Thursday afternoon. Aerotaxi plane Cuban aviation authorities
notified the Canadian Embassy in Havana, said a Foreign Affairs
spokesperson. Reported on board were six Canadians, including a
child, five Britons, two Germans and four Cubans. The plane, described
as a state-run Aerotaxi, went down about 4:30 p.m. local time near
Santa Clara, about 105 kilometres east of the capital Havana. It
was travelling from Cienfuegos to the island resort of Cayo Coco
when it crashed near Baez.
curling iron and eyelash curler generated a lot of discussion and
questions. Everyone wanted to try using them, even the guys. The
girls were amazed at how quickly I could put a bounce in my hair
with the curling iron. But after using the eyelash curler, the consensus
was "not needed". Their eyelashes already curl!
met a Cuban in a Casa in Bayamo. This guy was a cook in a hotel
but had a very lausy salary of 350 pesos a month. His friend, he
told me, was living in Germany and has a Italian restaurant. "Please..."
he said "...put my picture on your website and ask the people
that I want to get married to a German girl...ANY German girl...then
I can get out of Cuba and earn $1000 a month!"
I was clowning around writing letters to "P" in Havana when
I suggested that I should get a discounted rate on the apartment
that I rent. He said "Sure...and I will even supply a girl
for you when you come for the week". Mrs. Rainbow and I laughed
like crazy because you know what kind of a joker "P" is.
Well I guess I should have taken him a little more seriously. I
arrived at the Havana airport and "P" was there waiting
just like he said. "The apartment is all ready for you and
so is the girl", he said with a wicked grin. I figured that
I stuck my foot in it this time.
When we got to the apartment, I unpacked and there was a knock at
the door. "P" was standing there and he informed me that
"My Girl For The Week" was waiting to see me. Out from
behind him stepped his 78 year old mother with a big grin on her
face, welcoming me to Havana. She had no idea that the little bugger
had set both of us up!!!!!!!!!!!! I laughed until I almost peed
my pants. You have to love the Cuban sense of humor. I owe him one
when I get back to Havana next month.
When a Cuban offers a discount.....BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had a blast in Bayamo. I went to more bars and discos then I can
remember. The city has many historic sights and bulidings, museums
and galleries. It is also a beautiful area with hills and rivers.
Did you swim in the river? Dance at Artex? Hear great live bands
at Casa de la Trova? On weekends there is live music in the main
square for families and in a park for the singles. Did you windowshop
along the brick lane that is prohiblted to traffic? Vist the marketplace?
Attend Mass in the church? Sit on the porch of the Royalton Hotel
and peoplewatch? Visit the many parks and squares? Bayamo also has
a very rich history - it is considered the birthplace of the revolution.
I met so many warm and entertaining people that my 3 day trip turned
into 8 and still I didn't want to leave. Did you travel by horse
and carraige at twilight? Oh - I could go on and on.....
an evening of much dancing, drinking and laughter, the coach pulled
up to the house. We stumbled out of the carraige and up to the door,
where my boyfriend began to pound on the door calling his mother's
name. A few minutes later, the door was unlocked and into the bedroom
we went - all three of us. As my boyfriend and I sat on the bed,
his mother began to untie his boots. In seconds his boots and socks
were off. I stared in amazement as she then began to remove his
pants - to my horror - as his pants came off I saw he was not wearing
underware! It all seemed so perfectly natural to them. My naked
boyfriend laying across the bed, his mom putting his things away.
TV in Cuba is on and tuned to a popular novella. Walking down the
streets of Bayamo, I hear the program coming from every household.
There are children sitting on the steps peering in, neighbors without
tv look in through the shutters. Conversation has stopped and the
music is off.
got home after working 11 hours hauling hose up and down stairwells
and the wife is waiting for me at the door. I can tell by the look
in her eye that all is not well and the old man (me) is about to
get dumped on. "Your friends were here again" she growled.
"What friends....I don't got no friends" I tried. "Then
explain THIS!!!!!". She is holding up 4 large bags but for
the life of me I have no clue as to what's inside. Could be dope
for all I know!!! At his point she starts dumping them on the hall
carpet. Bag one is eye glasses and medicines. Cool!!! Just in time
for my trip to Havana. Bag 2 is small kids clothing and shoes. Some
Cuban momma is going to be real happy with me. Bag 3 is pens, chalk,
paper and a couple of pocket spanish-english dictionaries. I already
have to school in mind for them. Bag 4 is mainly made up of women's
under garments I can't wait to spread these around!!!I use to be
an expert fitter and sizer during my mispent youth. HaHaHa!!! Turns
out that they were dropped off by one of my customers.
oftened rained in Bayamo at about 5 or 6pm. One day it rained cats
and dogs! what fun I had explaining that idiom to my friends. It
had been so hot that I stood in the rain until I was soaked. Several
neighborhood children joined me. Soon my "mother in law"
brought out soap and shampoo and we bathed the kids, even removing
their clothes and scrubbing them, redressing them with wet but clean
Walk around Havana, sort of randomly, for a few days. Walk all over
the old city, and then from Capitolio down a main street in Centro,
either Reina or Maximo Gomez. At night, you will be energized to
walk some more. 7 days you should walk at least 50 miles!
If you have a little money, go with a Cuban friend you meet in the
casa, or somewhere, and rent a car and driver for a day. Ask them
to drive you all over town, take you places they like- Colon cemetary, Parque Lenin. Havana is huge,
although the core, out to Vedado is walkable.
Another option if you don't have so much money- take a guide book
( Moon is best), and then just take a bus, randomly. Get on the
bus, see where it goes, sit by the window with a map. You'll see
things that lots of regulars never see.
A day or two at Playa del Este (it is the middle of winter). Since
you wrote asking about how much money you need, here's a cheapskate
tip- take the 400 bus. Go to the first stop, near the train station.
If you don't speak Spanish, just ask Donde esta guagua cuatrocientos
al playa del Este. It costs about 5 cents. Go early in the morning,
because the line might be almost an hour- although, not so bad,
because Cubans think the ocean is too cold right now
Go with the flow! Cuba is a great place for random events. Pop into
a disco for the chiciticas- the 15 and under crowd! Just poke around.
Drink a beer on the Malecon, talk to the hustlers. Talk to the casa
owners. Keep your eyes open. Don't worry if you are missing something,
or seeing the places you should be seeing. Every night, walk past
I must be the luckiest woman in Cubaland. The men I am surrounded
by are not only handsome and thoughtful, they lift weights! Their
muscles are huge and rock-hard, stomachs flat and defined. There
is a gym in Bayamo where they work-out and Nani has joined the craze.
He is looking buff. His arms and chest are much more developed now
and to see the flex of his bicep as he simply lift his arm - WOW!
Can you image how wonderful it feels to have those arms around you?
His friend "superman" (as we call him) continues to win
competions. He is the undisputed strongest man in Bayamo and seems
to even be getting stronger. Life is beautiful.
dog, Bruto, is very strong and fierce. Everyone fears bruto, man
and beast alike. I am happy to say Bruto likes me. He nevers barks
or snaps at me the way he does to others (except household members
that is). One afternoon as Iwas returning to Nani's home, I saw
there were many people on the street, much than usual. Nani stood
in the middle of the street with bruto on his chain. I said hello
to Nani and he told me there was a problem for his dog. I had not
noticed the other dog, a pitbull and his owner. The crowd of people
increased as the owners and dogs moved to a smaller sidestreet.
About 20 ft apart the dogs, still on their leashes, and owners faced
each other. Nani's sister in law suddenly put the instant print
camera in my hands. the two men allowed the dogs to get within inches
of each other, then pulled them back. This went on several times
before the leashes were removed. Finally the action began. the owners
released the dogs and they went at each other with such intense
aggression. biting and ripping and tearing at each other, the blood
flowed from both dogs. I got as close as I could to take photos.
The crowd chanted "Bruto, Bruto, Bruto!", as Nani's dog
dominated the fight. After a few more minutes the owner of the pitbull
conceded the fight. The dogs were pulled apart by their owners.
Bruto was covered with blood, but he was only slightly injured.
Nani and his friends bathed Bruto as neighbors passed around the
pictures I had taken. Bruto, winner and still champion!
I was treated with herbal remedies for each of my many injuries. When
I crashed the scooter, most of the top layers of skin on my left
side was torn away. My friends would take me to the beach, a short
distance from their home, and make a seaweed mud pack. They applied
it to my wounds. After several days of this, the healing was remarkable,
with very little scarring. When I fell in Bayamo and needed stitches
across my eye, Nayna prepared a hot herbal tea, then soaked a piece
of cloth in it and placed it upon my eyes. Amazing how quickly the
bruising and swelling went down. She also treated my broken nose
in a similiar manner. It only took 2 weeks for me to look myself
to drive a Cuban NUTS!!
When I went to Havana in January I took a couple of jigsaw puzzles
with me for my Cuban family. The poor grandmother could not figure
out why anyone would take a really nice picture and cut it up into
750 pieces just to put it back together again. She just could not
get her head wrapped around this "strange" idea. I got
a letter yesterday from the granddaughter claiming that "granny"
has now put together and taken apart Niagara Falls 3 times and wants
to know if I would be kind enough to bring down some more of these
funny pictures. I should just for the fun of it bring down a couple
of those 1500 piece monsters and drive the poor woman completely
nuts. Since the only flat surface would be the kitchen table, I
wonder where the family is eating these days?????
Cucuruchus Driving from Guantanamo to Baracoa you will see people next to the
road trying to sell you "Cucuruchos". A cooked mixture
of sweet coconut with sugar, milk honey and little pieces of the
Fruta Bomba (Papaya). After the preparing of this mixture they put
it in little "bags" made of banana leaves.
Embassy in Havana
During the last week I shared a casa with an older fellow Canadian
who had not been to Cuba since 1958. This old guy would spend hours
down at Fortunos on Neptuno buying drinks for all the girls in the
bar and come wobbling back in a Coco taxi very much later. It does
not take a rocket scientist to figure out that within 3 days he
was broke. No problem he thought. "I got my American Express".
HaHaHa!!!!! It did not matter who he talked too, the answer was
alway the same. No! No! No!. This guy was a little weird as well
as he would spend most of his mornings hung over, hunting cockroackes
with his slipper!!!!!!!
I suggested calling the Canadian Embassy whose number I had and
they said they could help. Off he went and came back a couple of
hours later with a big grin on his face. He met with a Carrie Duranza
who arranged everything and could not have been more helpful. They
arranged phone calls home for him and the money was there the next
morning. Our embassy has taken some flak here on the board in the
past but they seem to have come through for this fool just great.
I will just bet Carrie has some great stories to tell about crazy
Canadians who wind up on their doorstep broke and a long way from
home. Full cudos to the Embassy staff for this one. Just one question
thought. Who owns the V Star motorcycle at the embassy and are we
really paying the clerks that much to be able to afford such a Cadillac
of motorcycles?????? Only kidding
Makes you proud to be Canadian no matter what country you are in.
Laundry Most women of Baracoa do their laundry in the river in an old fashion
Indian way. They don't use soap, but "hit" the clothes
with a piece of wood, in this way the dirt goes out
they werent really knives, more like broken metal sticks, but just
We were having a party with a pig roast at my friends home. about
20 of us were enjoying life when a commotion arose from the street.
We all went out to see what was happening. the neighbor across the
street was engaged in battle with another man. Now the neighbor
looks very "different". He has a large tatoo of donal
duck across the right side of his face and the longest fingernails
i ever saw on anyone. well there was lots of yelling and screaming
between the 2 men and of course from the crowd. I watched in horror
as the neighbor took a blow to the arm, but it only made him fiercer.
he violently attacked his opponent landing a severe injury to the
other man's shoulder and chest. The blood flowed and the man turned
and ran away!
from the railstation and vending area Isaw it, well, actually Iheard
it first, that unmistakable sound of a pig in transport. I have
seen pigs moved from one place to another in many, varied and unusual
ways, but this experience struck me as histerical. The pig was large
and its front hooves were placed on the handlebars of the bike.
Its body was straddled on the crossbar and its tail rested in the
set. A man sat behind the seat on one of those luggage rack. He
wasnt peddling, but balanced the bike with his legs on both sides
of the back tire and his hands were placed on the ends of the handlebars.
He gently but continuously stepped one foot in front of the other.I
watched and listened to them travel several blocks. My laughter
was so loud and contangious that within moments everyone was squealing
by rented car from Camaguey to Las Tunas, our car broke...When I
was waiting for somebody who could help me, an old man was passing
us by with a rope bihind on his bike...I needed that rope so somebody
could pull us to the nearest city.
In my fastest Spanish I screamed at the man "Senior, cinco
dolares por la ropa!!!
I didn't understand the man didn't stop, to sell his rope for $5....
Now I know why, ropa is Spanish for
A Cuban boy from Cardenas, came home from the army, totaly upset,
they had heard that morning, another boy from the army committed
suicide after killing his girlfriend of 13 years old...she slept
with another guy.....
fun to have family in Miami, they brought us a DVD player, and now
we can Karaoke the WHOLE DAY LONG!!! The neighbors are used to our
noise allready, the whole Calle Calzada knows we have a DVD.....
are often sitting in the open doorway, this time a woman came hurry
and wanted to hide...she was sneaking at her husband, while HE was
after another woman...."El Torro" is the name those kind
of men get in Cuba.
mother of the woman next door, died last week, and her husband run
away the day after, now she is living with her old and always drunk
father and her son Carlito of 4 years....What a mess...
A Cuban couple decided to escape to Florida, 2 ways to do this...Raft...or
arrange a hustler from the US who will pick you up. They thought
the last was the best option. This costs lots of money, so they
sold their house and all their stuff illegal. All this in secret
of course......they managed....
the shower is fixed, because of the hardness of the water we had
to shower with a cubita (bucket), to fix this problem, all pipe
lines had to be replaced...which is a very expensive matter for
a Cuban family.
Cuba, the plastic bag is king. (By
Not the white, kitchen-size bags
or the triple-ply, super-strength bags that are sold in droves in
the United States. But your average, razor-thin plastic shopping
bag found at U.S. supermarket checkout counters, used once and tossed
out or, less often, recycled.
In Cuba, where there is a shortage
of everything and nothing is thrown away, the plastic bag has become
as important to daily life as the monthly food ration card. Called
a "jaba," it is used to carry everything from rice to
clothing to books to musical instruments to fishing tackle to just
about anything else.
Cubans sell tomato sauce, vinegar
and even ice cream in jabas. Shampoo, milk and yogurt are sold in
specially sealed jabas. Bigger, stronger jabas are used to lug potatoes
and oranges. Fancy jabas, the ones with lettering on them, are used
to carry gifts on special occasions.
Women here plop a jaba on their head
and, when combined with the tropical heat, it acts as a makeshift
hair-dresser. Kids turn them into kites.
A couple of jabas tied together make
a clothesline. They also are used to seal pipes and plug leaks in
a country where rubber gaskets and caulking are impossible to find.
The jaba has special significance
during the holiday season, when the lucky few are given a plastic
bag filled with cooking oil, chicken, soap and other hard-to-find
items by their employer as a bonus.
passing Rancho Luna and getting on the road to Trinidad I saw a
thin Cuban woman in her 30s standing all alone in the middle of
nowhere on the side of the road.Her face looked like it was in the
sun a lot.She was probably younger than she looked.I stopped, she
gets in the car and a Cuban guy about 25y/o pops out of nowhere
and jumps in too.Where the hell did he come from? These people had
a long journey ahead of them.I wonder why they even bother.It must
take hours to get around and there is nothing in between, no water