Ariel Glaria Enriquez
HAVANA TIMES — On Tuesday, January 5, while standing at the bus stop on the intersection of Prado and Trocadero streets, right across the two bronze lions that keep watch over part of Old Havana’s promenade, I heard five young people – two girls and three boys – debate the reasons for leaving or staying in Cuba. They were speaking openly and sincerely.
The debate was started by one of the girls. I have named her “Girl A”. Her friend will be referred to as “Girl B,” and the boys “I”, “II” and “III”, respectively.
Girl A: What do you think about those Cubans stranded in Costa Rica?
The question left the others indifferent.
Girl A: I hope they make it to the United States.
No one replies. She insists until they do.
Girl B: My dad thinks Nicaragua screwed them over and that the United States doesn’t care about them.
Boy I: I think the same. But I’m sure they’ll get there. My dad really liked the Costa Rican president. He hadn’t heard him before.
Girl B: How could he have, when the news here always repeat the same things?
Boy I: I’m tired of hearing the same things over and over again. That’s why nothing interests me and I understand why everyone leaves.
Boy II: Not everyone. I’m not going anywhere.
Girl A: I’d go if my parents left or if I married a foreigner, of course. In that case, the first thing I’d do is get my parents out.
Boy I: That’s what you say now. From what you’ve told me, you like to travel a lot, so I doubt you’ll look after them much.
Girl A: Yes, traveling is one of the things I want to do the most.
Boy III (taking off his headphones): I’m dying to leave.
Boy II: You, who sleeps all day?
Boy III: I sleep ‘cause I’m bored of having nothing to do. If I manage to get out one day, I’ll be the person who sleeps the least. You may even hear about me.
Girl B: That’s true. There’s nothing to do here. That’s why I sleep a lot, also. This has become a country for old men, way I see it.
Boy I: You’re right. Old people’s homes, that’s what we have the most of. Sometimes, I feel we’re just in the way. (He turns to look at Boy II) You won’t leave because your parents give you everything, but that won’t last forever.
Boy II: Keep dreaming things are easy out there.
Girl A: I have an uncle who came back from Spain. He says he won’t go back, that things are tough there.
Boy III: And things aren’t tough here? I don’t remember the last time I had milk for breakfast. And everyone in my family works.
Boy II: That’s because of the blockade.
Boy III: Or perhaps because we don’t know how to breed cattle.
Girl B and Boy I hug and kiss. Girl A interrupts them. The bus is coming. They all run off.
An old man wearing a cap with the logo of Havana’s Industriales baseball team says: “If it were up to me, they would all leave. There’d me more to go around, then.”
Does this man know what he’s saying? Do others think like him? I wonder.