Sitting here at gate, waiting to board the first leg of my first trip to Cuba.
Survived airport security shakedown. Had to practically disrobe. Was surprised they didn’t turn me upside down and shake me. One lady wore flip flops and they still made her remove them.
What micro-bomb could she possibly have been stashing between her toes? I am in complete agreement with my government that we need airport security, but this is ridiculous.
When the poor woman refused to stand on the dirty airport floor in her bare feet, she and her things were pulled out of line and taken away to who-knows-where. She looked frightened beneath her indignation as they led her away…
The rest of us on line just stood there with our mouths open, stunned. One brave soul tried to speak up for her, but was ordered by one of the security guards to remain quiet or leave the airport.
And so, like good sheep, we all glanced furtively at one another, acted as if nothing had happened, and proceeded forward to suffer our own over-the-top invasions of person.
I reminded myself that I wasn’t in Cuba yet.
I wonder where those airport security guards took that lady.
I wonder how she feels.
God, I wonder what they would have done to me had they known my final destination.
I feel shielded by my Cancun airline ticket. I won’t get my ticket to Cuba until I check in at a non-American, Havana-bound airline in Mexico.
And what the fuck?!
I hate being made to feel like a criminal. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m traveling.
I hate this stupid license, this permission slip from my government that I have to keep on my person in case I’m ‘caught’ traveling to or returning from Cuba. Why not just sew a Nazi-era yellow star onto my lapel?: “CUBA-BOUND AMERICAN.”
Jesus Christ, I’m a freakin’ American. I’m allowed to travel. I have a constitutional right to travel. Anywhere in the world. Because I’m free.
That lady in line was American, too.
Wonder how free she’s feeling right now…
Couldn’t jump on my bike, so took a walk around the airport.
Just because I can.
Wandered freely into any shop I wanted, bought magazines of my choice, said anything I wanted (within societal framework) to anybody I chose to speak to. Feeling better now. Think I’m just getting all freedom-freaky because of where I’m headed. But still don’t think I should be made to feel like a criminal because of where I’m headed.
Anyway, sat back down a few minutes ago and flipped thru the history section of my Cuba guidebook. Now, thoughts of Castro/Che/the Revolution are swirling through tropical humidity steam in movie montages around my head…
How I wish that by some crazy, time-travel miracle I could disembark in Havana back into the last weeks of 1958 just before Batista caved and fled.
The Fidelista rebels fashioned a crude, handmade radio to announce the progress of the Revolution (how many Batista soldiers were killed/captured, which provinces had been won, etc.) to rally every Cuban into support of the Revolution, and to keep up Revolutionary morale throughout the island during the fighting.
I can totally imagine it…each day, anxiously following the rise to power of the Revolution, hearing Che’s commanding voice detailing each column’s progress, assuring victory and a new, better life.
What must it have been like then? How must it have felt?
I am, by now, enamored of that era in that place…
I wonder how the Cuban people will be.
Lehyla – a Colombian friend of mine who has Cuban friends she visits all the time because she’s not American, and so can travel to Cuba whenever she wants to without giving out her mother’s maiden name or flip-flopping her way into an airport security black hole – says Cubans are warm, gracious and giving. Everything I’ve read speaks of how intelligent, educated, and fun-loving Cubans are.
Can’t wait to meet the friends I’ll make there!
Wait…do Cubans even like Americans? I mean, we’ve got them up against a fence. Naked.
Who wants to be friends with a bully?
“Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land.”