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.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

He wanted to ask me: Why are you doing this?

The curious farmer.
I keep thinking about the people I've met in Cuba. Naturally, each person is different in many ways yet, in one way, they're the same: curious. In my experience, the people in Cuba are more curious than the cats.

One farmer, especially, keeps sitting in my mind, just as he did the day I met him. He was the host on the day I drove deep into the Sierra Maestra mountains to deliver a carload of suitcases overflowing with clothing and other supplies for the rural families. He placed a table in the yard beside his rambling farmhouse, then sat down on a log to watch as my friend and I arranged the display of gifts.

Suitcases full of free clothing for families in the mountains.
He kept watching me. But, he wasn't watching in a leering, finger-biting way. He was simply and sincerely curious. I could tell he wanted to ask me something but knew our lack of a mutual language would make conversation impossible. His curiosity was bigger than his pigeon English and my pichón Español could satisfy, even with hand gestures; there was no point in cooking frustration stew. So, he just watched me.

I took many random pictures that day, as I always do, of the suitcases, of the people picking out clothes, of the abundant turkeys, of the farmers and their families. I took several pictures of this man but, whenever my camera was focused on him, he became shy. He would glance slightly away and his half-smile would dim.

A few of the many turkeys at a farm I visited.
Now, in my mind, he sits on his small log, wearing his straw hat and looking directly at me, still wanting to ask his question: Why are you doing this?

I have thought about how I would answer him. I have thought about it a lot because he's not the only one who wants to know. I do too. Why am I working so hard to help the people in this isolated, impoverished part of rural Cuba?

The short answer is: Because I can. The longer, less blithe answer is a work in progress. Every time I try to answer this question,  I feel like I am chasing feathers in the wind. Sometimes I can grasp one reason, but then another dances by and it must be added to the collection of whys.

This time, the longer answer begins this way: The place and its people have put a mark upon my heart. I have been invisibly tattooed. They have branded my soul. Does that sound blithe too? I don't mean to seem casual about this. What I feel regarding this piece of Cuba is very serious but very hard to definitively confine. It's a big, open-hearted something that makes me cry and smile at the same time, for no reason and because of everything.

Perhaps you could say it's a spiritual calling. Or, maybe it's karma. I really don't know why I feel so connected to this community. I just am. So, I will keep doing what I can to help improve the lives of the people in and around Marea del Portillo and Pilón, in the cradle of land between the sea and the Sierra Maestra mountains, where my heart is gently rocked.


  1. Thanks for are a truly rich person of soul and generosity.

  2. Thanks, Jeff! This is partly why I keep playing Latin music on my Hunters Bay Radio show, the World@6:05 - my soul has been infected by Cuba!

  3. Wonderful for you to to do this, and especially to do this in a rural area of Cuba. My husband is Cuban and I have spent a lot of time in Cuba, throughout the island. The people in the small towns in the countryside do not have the same access to basic neccesities such as the people living in the bigger cities, especialy Havana. Its very nice to see you offering what you can to people in Cuba that need it, especialy to the people in the countryside. This is where most of my husband's family lives, and life in Cuba in the countryside is so much different compared to the life in the cities of Cuba. Great work.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, "Anonymous."