Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 14)

sylverblaque-cuban-band

Photo: Sylver Blaque/Cuba

At dinner tonight, guitarists and singers serenaded us with the Che song (“Hasta Siempre“).

How amazing to be in Cuba hearing the music I love so much from the throats of nationals!

Our group passed a plate to collect tips for them.

Are we going to have to give dollars to every Cuban who smiles at us?” one of the people in our group grumbled.

Armando’s jaw tightened nearly imperceptibly before he answered. “That’s up to you.

Again, I tried to read his face. If there had been any expression to accompany the tightening of his jaw, it was gone now. Like staring at a blank wall. How does he do that? And do it every day, every week, every time he leads Cuba-ignorant Americans like us thru his country?

Do our questions offend him? Anger him? Amuse him?

What does he say to other Cubans about us?

Wow, it’s 3:30am. Karli & Dana are konked out in their bunks. Glad they were booze-and-sleep-drunk when they came in from the bar so I could keep writing. After teetering on the toilet to blow out more of the recycled Gulf we drank at the mercado today, they fell on their faces in their flat pillows.

Back home, it’s so quiet outside at this hour…

Not here.

A dog’s barking…a car’s chugging…people are calling out Spanish things to each other.

I could fill you right up tonite, dear diary, with pages and pages more about this forbidden place I’ve been in for just over 24 hrs. But I’m drifting, my eyelids are fluttering…

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And, thankfully, my insides have stopped percolating.

I guess I’ve expunged my inner Gulf.

I would love to wander outside, find one of those scary haunted house/graveyard-looking trees I saw in Habana today – did I tell about those?

They’re incredible…

They’re called ceibas. We were told these trees are sacred, and that the branches are really roots. The crown grows witchy hair that hangs down low from within the green leaves, sweeping the sidewalk in a breeze. The twisted, gnarly trunks form weeping willow caves.

You can hunch down, slip thru the slits, and crawl around inside the trunk. You could be in there, peering out at passersby who would never suspect they are being watched. By a tree. With eyes.

I’d love to slip inside the trunk of one of these trees right outside Fidel Castro’s office, to see what his Revolution is really about these days…

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Photo: Sylver Blaque/Cuba

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

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4 thoughts on “Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 14)

  1. I loved this! I haven’t traveled much, but I enjoy seeing the world through your eyes! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I would love to be the peering eyes inside the tree!

  2. It is going to be some degree civil war when things change and open up. The Cubans in Miami, even first generation, think they will return to rule things. Don’t think Cuban people that stayed and live there will go for that. Cuban/American government would be seen as a return to Yankee imperialism except the Yanquis are Cuban Americans. What is your take on this ?

    • Well, I can tell you that most Cubans I met in Cuba are not hoping to see Miami Cubans “return to rule things.” I had many conversations with Cubans there – from Pinar to Santiago – who would get irate at the very suggestion of it. Even those with loved relatives in Miami made it clear that no matter how much they loved their Miami relatives, they would not stand by and let them take over.

      However, I also met a much smaller portion of Cubans there who either didn’t care who took over (because they felt anything would be better than the rationed lives they’re living now) or felt that it might be better if Miami Cubans returned and took the reigns.

      But this book is about my journeys to Cuba and so everything presented will be about the things I learned there. I don’t have such firsthand knowledge about Miami Cubans. But I do I think, in all fairness, it’s important to remember that Miami Cubans lost everything they had – their homes, their families, their very country. Before my book is published, I will be spending time in Miami to learn all that I can about their side – if only to better understand the context of what I learned in Cuba.

      Hopefully, we’ll hear from some Miami Cubans here in comments to these posts. There was one woman who left a wonderful, personal story – I hope we’ll hear from more!

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