This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much
heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Getting to Know Her...

One of my long-time chums wrote a piece personifying his motorcycle in the opening paragraphs, so I thought I'd try it with a country.


Getting to Know Her...

I am getting to know Cuba. I find her very intriguing.

I met her for the first time in April of 2009 and, since then, we’ve had several encounters. She’s a cheap date. The booze flows freely when I’m with her and there are always many reasons to smile. She could get me into trouble, I suppose, but I really don’t fear that. There’s a certain innocent warmth about her that makes flirting seem safe and natural. Perhaps I trust her more than I should, but so be it.

Yes, I am talking about the island, the land, the country and her people. Cuba is a “she” to me, a woman of mystery. She has her secrets. She has her stories. And, she has her scars. I know an abused woman when I see one, even if she is too proud to admit it. I can see the latent pain, the nervous way of surreptitiously glancing around, in case someone’s watching. She shouldn’t have to live like that. No one should.

The people of Cuba should not have to live like that. Collectively, they seem to have such a wonderful spirit, despite the systemic abuse, despite the oppression, despite the ceaseless hardships – and I am incredibly intrigued. Naturally, not everyone is always happy but, after generations of struggling to survive, how can Cubans, in general, be so giving, forgiving and just plain joyous? They sing and dance and laugh as if tomorrow will be another perfect day in paradise. Is it merely a brave face? Is it a way to temporarily alleviate the suffering caused by routine shortages and irrational regulations?

During my most recent visit to Cuba, in April of this year, rice was in extremely short supply. Since this is a dietary staple in most Latin countries, a looming lack is quite worrisome; there is no substitute. There were rumors of rice riots in Havana, of someone being stabbed. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that story but I could see the concern about the situation in the faces of my friends. If you are used to eating something every day, twice a day, what would you do without that essential food? I cannot imagine the stress such a shortage will add to so many lives. Improvements are supposedly being made to the Cuban agricultural system but that is far from being an overnight solution.

Yet, through whatever problems arise, I know the people will still smile. Is it a facade? No, I don’t think so. I think their love of life, their beautiful spirit, is quite genuine. And, that’s the most attractive thing about Cuba. It’s her perfume, her magic elixir. That’s why I’m drawn to her, why I want to get to know her better. That’s why I will keep returning.

– JennyC
May 24, 2010

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