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.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In praise of randomness – it's a beautiful thing!

Yesterday, it rained and it poured, so my friends and I had to cancel an outdoor event we'd been planning. It was the third in a series of Interactive Art and Fashion shows intended to raise money for the Cuban Friends' Fund, which help facilitate my humanitarian work in the Marea del Portillo and Pilón area. We have one more such fundraiser scheduled for this summer, on Sept. 17, and it WILL be a sunny day. (I am repeating that like a mantra!)

So far, we haven't raised much money, but we've been having fun and raising awareness about the considerable challenges of life in rural Cuba. As the emcee, I try to throw in a few stories about people I've met and things I've observed during my visits to this historic and relatively isolated part of the Granma province. For yesterday's show, I had the ingredients for a nice little speech floating around in my head. Since I missed the opportunity to spew them forth to an assembled crowd, I decided to use them as the basis for this post.

I was going to tell people about someone I initially thought of as "Random Cuban Dude." I now know him as Leony, a friend I have not yet met. I wrote about his supportiveness and our developing friendship in a previous post (Aug. 19) but I didn't really talk about my hesitation to accept his invitation to be Facebook friends.

When he virtually extended his hand in friendship, I did not immediately accept it. I was skeptical of his motive. So, I checked out his profile. He's wearing shades and muscle shirts in every picture, as well as a gold chain – telltale signs of dudism, in my experience! I reviewed his information. He lives in Varadero. That's a long way from Marea del Portillo. He likes hiphop and José Feliciano. Hmmm....

Why would this hip young dude want to be my friend? Around that time, I had been warned by a friend with more Cuban experience than I have that I should be careful because some Latinos will try to prey on the sympathy and kindness of Canadian tourists. Did I look like an easy mark? Maybe. We appeared to have a total of two friends in common, both employed at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, but from what I read on his home page, I couldn't discern that he had any affiliation with the resort.

The invitation seemed rather random and opportunistic. Still, I took that proverbial leap of faith and accepted anyway! As my husband pointed out, if Random Cuban Dude became a pest, I could just block his posts or unfriend him.

I was quite curious about why he wanted to be my friend, so I immediately sent him a message asking just that. He replied that my face looked familiar – he had worked as a diver at the resort a few years ago – and he signed off with "xox." Uh-oh! A yellow caution light began blinking in my brain. Kisses and a hug were more friendly than I'd expected for a first chat!

Before long, our chats progressed to more heart-filled topics, as my Aug. 19 posts indicates. My new online acquaintance soon shifted from being Random Cuban Dude to becoming my friend Leony. It will be nice to meet him, eventually, and to see his eyes.

Back in Canada on this rainy weekend, I've been pondering other randomness in relation to my Cuba projects. We've been hosting the Interactive Art and Fashion shows at Huntsville's Alberto Salon and Spa, owned by my friend John, who was sort of Random Hairdresser Dude when I met him at a party several years ago. New to town, he and his wife were friends of friends, so I began supporting his business. It seemed like a friendly thing to do.

We always have great salon-chair chats and have discovered an unanticipated commonality of interests and perspectives on the community. Earlier this year, we were brainstorming about jointly hosting art/fashion/music events as fundraising endeavors. His lovely salon would be the setting and my store – reVIBE! – would provide the clothing. We were discussing what charities we might want to support and, to my surprise, John insisted we devote all the shows to my Cuban projects. Wow! (That is becoming one of my favorite words.) Random friends rock!

I want to quickly add that my not-so-random friends also rock, and have been like rocks in their support for me and my work to help and empower a Cuban community I have fallen madly in love with...after a random visit a few years ago. Randomness can have incredibly beautiful results, don't you think?

My life has changed quite dramatically in the last two years and, when I review it all, much of what has happened could be seen as randomness. More and more, though, I am seeing a wonderful pattern. The random pieces are fitting together to create a detailed, delightful picture, and I'm lovin' it. The key, I think, is being open and willing to accept the apparent randomness, and then enjoy the ride!


  1. Fabulous post, as usual, Jenny! What a beautiful experience it is to finally see the order in chaos. I wish you many more random friendships and opportunities in years to come! xo

  2. Leony Castillo CastilloAugust 23, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Amiga, and again I'm back on this beautiful article. The Internet has the magic to connect many people at random. I give thanks for the friendship we have today. I wish you luck and hope that many people around the world can read your articles so they can support your projects. I'm eager to read you again. Good luck.

  3. Thanks, dear readers. It's nice to have comments!