It´s Tuesday and I have been in Cuba for three days. I was unsure of my Spanish speaking abilities before I came - even more so than when I last used them. In the time I´ve been here I have learned a new formula.
1. Island´s Fast Talk + Snakes + Spanish = espanol Cuabana.
People are varied. Friendly, industrious, and straight-forward. But, because of the situation, also suspicious, conniving and desperate.
Habana´s economy is built on tourism. And, not the same way as -say- a resort town. The CUC$ (the currency for foreigners) is the only way for anyone to get beyond their state-provided means. So, begging, prostitution, and scams are the rule.
The worst is I want to help.
I think about when Sam and I were debating about purchasing the PS3. That same amount of money could change someone´s political standing.
Oh, and the politics here are clearly the game.
There are CDR´s (committee for defense of the revolution) on every block. Everyone is a member and the local jefe´s are known by everyone - and, hold a lot of sway.
As an example, our first casa particular (private home) was full. So the women there called a neighbor and found us rooms. That new place is ran by a wonderful old woman. Her son has done very well for himself and clearly has local sway. Her daughter-in-law is no-nonsense, smart and business minded. She also speaks a little English.
Tht couple lives nicely. And, they found out where we were changing accomidations. I found myself awoke the next morning to meet one of the women from the first casa. We wouldn´ be able to stay there. ¨visa problems¨ Not ours. Not theirs. Maybe their other guests. Very evasive. But, Julia was estatic. (¨feliz feliz feliz!¨) we would be staying. Decision done.
But that isn´t as important as culture!
Cuban´s don´t really know much about the world too much. Their newspapers, TVs, and radios are inward focused. And, Yanquis in particular are rare here. They´re curious up to a safe point - I haven´t really been alone with any yet to have private conversations.
Musical, and dancing are ubiquitious. Growing up, I was taught a stereotype of latin-american and african-american having music in their hearts.. or something. (Ridiculous) No one I have mt quite matches the degree obtained by having singing and dancing as the only outlets. In our first nighty, we stopped at a cabaret and were offered two women. We politely declined. They politely didn´t care and sat down anyway. Within minutes, I was invited to salsa dance.
And, damn, if it wasn´t more embarrassing than any other time. Everyone dances.
There is one other outlet - alcohol. Cubans love their rum. (ron) The native rum if Habana Club. Which is cheap and plentiful. It´s no surprise the Bacardi corporation lobbies heavily to keep the blockade.
There are two national beers here too: Bucanero and Cristal. Both are forgettable. We spent Tuesday evening drinking cristal with a British guy named Casper. It was like college again - chugging piss water.
I´d be remiss if I didn´t mention the people´s looks. Every ethnicity is represented here. Society is integrated, mixed and not racist. And hot. For us, attractive women try to pull our attentions everywhere. But, it´s the same for men too. There is a level of sexual liberty here that assaults my relatively puritan upbringing. Poor Casper had been here a month and was desperate to get home to his girlfriend. I´m half a week in, and I can appreciate his condition.
I think this has gone on long enough. I have to blog it because encryption is banned. I´ll write more soon... and ramble less.