Opening Statement



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A Cuba Story 6: Corazon!

 March 1996



Driving through the outskirts of Contramaestra we spot the Cuban Beatles relaxing on their front porch. Trying to escape the insidiously creeping, mid morning heat. Ricky and Frankie are there too! Pretty soon it's a jam. An acoustic one -easier on the strings! A little Spanish guitar. Some sweet tight harmonies. I may have heard the old Beatle songs a zillion times, but never like this! Somebody leads us in the "Ballad of John and Yoko" one last time;


Christ you know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me


I hope the embargo doesn't crush Cuba. That they don't get nailed on a long past Cold War political cross. Or caught in the crossfire of a the next dubious world crisis. But with the way things are going down here -well, God only knows what comes next! It's such a sad, sad situation. You couldn't meet a better people. Anyway, before long the whole neighbourhood's gathered around the porch. It's another End of the World Party! Everybody clapping and singing along! English songs! Cuban songs! It doesn't matter!

"See the drummer?"

"Yes Willy."

"Pedro is the local school director." 

As the Cuban Beatles launch into an obscure Cuban folk number he does the dance that they all love. Up and down Pedro bounces face down on the floor. Keeping his balance. Lightly touching it with his tongue. Could you see your school board director getting down like that in Canada? Hmmm.

Everyone's still dancing, as we drive off. Cubans are like that! Any excuse will do. Anywhere. Anytime. I watch them disappear in the oppressive, sweltering heat through our rear view mirror as we make our way out of town. Back to Santiago de Cuba.


We'll drive across the plains to Palmas. Rendezvous with Popo. Probably he's somehow fixed his Polski Fiat against all odds by now. Drive us up back into the mountains, through El Cristo headed for a return to sheer Godliness; boiled water, a cooked meal and shower at the Toronto Friendship school! I wince at the thought of leaving our Contamaestra amigos y amigas trapped in their desperate hell. And yet, and yet, I'll bet they are still dancing and singing there today against all odds!


We stop for a stretch in the open plains. Everybody has diarrhea except me. Never thought I'd admit it but thank God for Coca Cola and Mr. Big bars! Ha. A lone condor circles lazily overhead as I walk out into the parched wind swept grass. The soil beneath my feet seems to give a hot heavy sigh; caught in an endless cycle of poverty and despair. Cuba; holding on like there's no tomorrow!


We didn't get very far into the interior of the island this trip. Maybe it's more than I could take. By all accounts, it only get worse past Contramaestra. We are but on the cusp of the disease and hunger awaiting further inland during the current Special Period. As unimaginable as the embargo. 

I sigh. When my time and money runs out, I get to leave. Catch a flight back to our own little hellish First World malaise. I know, our neo con reality can really suck. But it's all very relative. My Cuban amigos y amigas will always be in the back of my mind. It's a very heavy cross they must bear. Nothing they can do. I'll keep going back to try to help out. A big chunk of my heart will always be in Cuba.


­Salud!


Davido

PS: Read the Complete Story @ On The Road in Cuba!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Time for a blog on whether or not the OECTA Provincial President needs to be a Catholic?

David Chiarelli said...

Fair game! Go ahead write!

Anonymous said...

OECTA=Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association....Why run for Provincial President if you voted YES for the MOU and are not Catholic?

David Chiarelli said...

Dunno. James and Rene are both Catholic. Neither supported the MOU. Please continue this chain under Teacher News + Views, or somewhere else more relevant, so more readers. Thanks!

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