Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 4)

U.S. 2005

airport-securityOct. 8

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.

Flip flops.

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.

.

no-cuba7:00am

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.

Whew!

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…

.

7:49am

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.

che-guevara-on-radio-rebeldeI would so love to be there, to listen to Radio Rebelde – the brainchild of Che, a rebel radio program broadcast from the depths of the Sierra Maestra mountains all during Castro’s Revolutionary War.

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…

.

8:22am

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?

bully

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Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land.

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15 thoughts on “Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 4)

  1. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 10) | Sylver Blaque

  2. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 9) | Sylver Blaque

  3. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 8) | Sylver Blaque

  4. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 7) | Sylver Blaque

  5. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 6) | Sylver Blaque

  6. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 5) | Sylver Blaque

  7. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 1) | Sylver Blaque

  8. Well, you were very vocal about all the supposed wonderful things your two Cuban friends told you about Cuba. What did you think? I would be very interested in learning what you learned about the real Revolution in Cuba? Did you ask the common folk if they have access to the “free helath care”, “free education”, and all the other supposed “free” things the Revolution and Fidel and his thugs gave the people?

    • Hi Celina, thanx for your comment. Well, yes, I did learn quite a lot during my time in Cuba. I’m just beginning work on a book about it. These excerpts from my journals are how I’m planning to lay it out, and the few entries I’ve posted here so far are my thoughts prior to arriving for the first time in Cuba. I was quite naive about a great many things, but aren’t we all before experience kicks in? 😉 This is one reason I always keep detailed journals before, during & after my travels; I love looking back on how I saw things at different points of experience.

      Regarding your questions, when I travel I don’t stay in hotels. I prefer homestays with “the common folk,” as you say. I love this so much more because I learn so much more. I think tourist areas and ways are much too removed from the actuality of a place. So in Cuba, I stayed with many different families across the island – all “common folk.” And yes, I learned about the “free” education and healthcare; I actually had first-hand experience in receiving health care there when I was injured – which was quite different from much of the healthcare I saw Cubans receiving. “Free” is not an easy word to define in Cuba; everything is relative, from which currency to use, to bodegas! I learned so very much on so very many levels that the experience was amazing, unbelievable, maddening, confusing, mind-boggling and just about any other adjective you could come up with. I don’t think I’ve ever lived as many contradictions as I did in Cuba! It was like those boxes that you keep opening and finding smaller and smaller boxes inside. I’d need pages and pages to explain this – which is why I’m writing a book. But you sound as if you already know something about it. What do you think of Cuba – then & now? Because it’s changing so rapidly lately. What do you think of the people? Do you have friends/family there? I can already tell what you think of “Fidel and his thugs.” 😉

      Again, thank you for commenting & I hope you continue to read as I continue to post my Cuba diary excerpts, and hopefully you’ll share more of your insight…

      • Hello! I just found your adventure about the ankle in Holguin but I couldn’t figure out where it was again to comment. I wanted to thank you for being truthful about what you found. I am American and proud of it, born n bred in the US, my kids are also born nt bred Americans and proud of our country. You see, the US is my country but Cuba, well thats where my roots are, where parts of me will always be. I only visited Cuba once, back in 1979 so I could meet my grandparents for the first and only time. Fot the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to be censored. My parents arrived in the US in 1962 and went on to live the American dream, recooping the material stuff but losing out on their parents, siblings, and their heritage. They instilled a love of all Cuban things, the culture, the music, the food, the history but most importantly, the family and history. Cuba was not perfect then, it needed change, it needed fairness and more. Fidel Castro is an intelligent man and as my mother always says, if only he would have put all of that to good use instead of to the bad. He lied to many and betrayed a country, destroying it in the process. It is a lie that they have free anything. My brother in law has written many books about the history of Cuba, El Escambry, the politcal prisoners and more. If you would like to speak to him or would like more info for your research, let me know and I will gladly provide. I still have many relatives in Cuba, we still write, send pictures, medicines and money to help them. I was raised in New Jersey but I live in Miami now. I hate when Miami Cubans are portrayed as this rabid, cigar chewing, spittle flying, ignorant, political bullies. There is so much more to this, so much pain on both sides. Families destroyed by politics. Looking forward to hearing and reading more!

        • The post you are referring to is: HITCHHIKING THROUGH COMMUNISM WITH A SPRAINED ANKLE
          https://sylverblaque.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/hitchhiking-through-communism-with-a-sprained-ankle/

          What a wonderful piece of Cuban-American history! Thank you for sharing your personal story with me, and for the offer to interview your brother-in-law. I may take you up on that
          : – >

          I absolutely agree with your view that “there is much pain on both sides.” Most of my Cuban friends are on the Island, so it was nice to learn your personal story for a first-hand view of another side. First-hand personal experiences of Cubans on all sides are not often taken into consideration by our media, who prefer short sound bites or lopsided portrayals which fit nicely into our political ideology.

          I hope you have the chance to return to Cuba one day. There is good and bad on the island, but I can tell you that the PEOPLE embody the good like a bright ray of sunlight that will hopefully spread across the entire island into every home in the very near future…

          • I’m sorry I got to late to this post, honestly I think that not every Cuban has the same point of view in this topic and and even more if you see that the people who most hate Cuban government, peoples, etc… are the ones who never hasn’t been there or are been out of Cuba for a long time, in Miami most of Cuban involved in politics against Cuba they do it because of the money they get from it not cause they care . c’mon it has just become “money and votes” ; “Las damas de blanco” there are a lot of them been paid from Miami as well (my respect to the others). and if celina is so american then she should stop whining and following blogs like this. I will always be proud of being Cuban even if I go to live to the north pole. plain and simple

            • Thank you for sharing your view here, Kenny. You’re right – every Cuban does not have the same point of view. I think this is what makes Cuba so fascinating & such a learning experience from all sides. No matter how much I learn, there’s always more to learn from Cubans with different viewpoints. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 3) | Sylver Blaque

  10. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 2) | Sylver Blaque

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