Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 20)

rusty-chain-linkBut what does all this Haiti stuff have to do with Cuba?” I asked.

Victor connected the historical link.

He explained that Haiti had been the major island for sugar production – which made it the richest colony on the planet.

In fact, Haiti produced more than half of France’s Gross National Product, making gigundo fortunes for France, who dubbed Haiti their “Jewel of the Antilles.” Which, of course, was accomplished on the backs of brown slaves whose emotional, familial, and cultural devastation, and back-breaking labor in creating the wealth of White supremacist nations would be reduced to a mere footnote by Western historians.

This really pisses me off.

I mean, weren’t colonists, like, Christian-love-God-and-your-fellow-man type deals? Were brown people not fellow men? Then, okay, what were they exactly?

Animals? Aliens? Aberrations?

Talk about do as we say, not as we do… 😐

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 18)

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba
Museo de la Revolucion

As he talked, Victor led us around the museo to relevant exhibits – even to a bust of Christopher Columbus.

Victor said there were a few places on the island in which Columbus was depicted, but that they had been erected by colonists.

Why hasn’t the Columbus stuff been taken down?” I asked.

Victor answered soberly, “As with Americans, some Cubans still believe the lie.”

This did not sit well with a particular member of our group, Jennifer, who folded her arms and fixed Victor with a piercing look.

You call Columbus a murderer, but everyone kills during war,” she said.

War?” Victor raised his eyebrows. “This man initiated unprovoked massacres, Madame. Indians fought back. Against a documented mass murderer, rapist, and thief. Columbus did not ‘discover.’ He invaded. He did not ‘defend.’ He attacked. He did not ‘settle.’ He conquered.”

Jennifer eyeballed Victor. “That may be your history but it’s not ours.”

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

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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?

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 13)

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Photo: Sylver Blaque/Havana, Cuba

There was a show going on in the mercado.

People wearing bright colors and headwraps, pointed hats, cowboy hats, Cat-in-the-Hat style hats.

Faces decorated with painted designs. Piercing calls from day-glo lips.

Walking on stilts, dancing on stilts, slapping stilt-mounted bongo drums, effortless twirls on stilts while swirling large sections of brightly colored fabric.

A colossal fuschia dragon head with bulging yellow eyes, cavernous black nostrils, and knashing white fangs.

All eyes, we sauntered through the cobblestone streets of the mercado, passing all manner of Cuban life…

Boys playing a boisterous game of soccer with a deflated basketball and tattered, homemade goal net with more holes than net…

Women leaning out of high apartment windows hanging laundry…

Jineteros aggressively hassling tourists…. Continue reading

Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 9)

Cuba 2005

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Trinidad, Cuba

Oct. 9 (cont.) 

Other impressions: Cubanos walk, ride ancient bicycles (whole families on one bike – how do they do it?), stand on roadsides holding out an arm for a ride – and most cars actually stop to pick people up. Amazing!

No serial killers in Cuba??

Bus stops – every bus stop we passed – had long, looong, loooooooong lines of Cubans waiting with a patience I’ve never before seen.

Any American would be furious, outraged if we had to wait on lines that long every day. There’d be an uproar, boycotts, demands for change. But here, as we passed these endless lines (and not just at bus stops), all I saw was resigned placidity.

It was really something to see.

I so badly wanted to get close-up shots of individual faces, to see if there was maybe a hint of impatience, exasperation, anger…anything roiling beneath the quiet tolerance.

Unfortunately, our big yellow bus was always on the move, bumpity-bumping right past the most interesting photo ops.

Ah, group trips. Gotta luv ’em. (Not!)

But, omg, the cars!

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 8)

Cuba 2005

Oct. 9 (cont.)

De todos moods (anyway), that night (post toilet tissue forage) laying contorted on sunken springs, Karli, Dana and I babbled excitedly about being in Cuba – as only novice Americans-in-Cuba can do.

get-smart-spyWe wondered what it would be like out there. Would see all the things we’ve heard about in the U.S?

Olive-clad, AK-toting soldiers on the streets watching every move of Cuban people…?

Communist Party spies eavesdropping on our conversations in order to report back to Fidel what was said…?

Cubans who would blatantly lie to us about how wonderful Cuba is because telling the truth about the horrors of their country might land them in one of Fidel’s torture-prisons…?

And what about this Martin Luther King church?

Is it a secret church operating beneath Castro’s radar?

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 5)

U.S. 2005

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / En route to Cuba

Oct. 8

On plane – a connector in Nassau en route to Cancun. From Cancun, on to Cuba.

How thoughtful of Bush to make flying to Cuba so expensive & difficult for Americans. 👿

I could have taken a direct flight from Miami but God only knows what Americans are subjected to there.

I’ve heard horror stories about Americans with legal licenses to travel to Cuba departing from Miami and being interrogated, intimidated and detained for hours while their stories & licenses were ‘verified.’

Sounds fun, but no thank you, President Bushwack.

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