Will I Ever Travel Abroad from Cuba?

Ariel Glaria Enriquez

HAVANA TIMES — Will I ever travel outside of my country?  I’ve asked myself this question a lot of times, which originated, like a lot of my questions, in my childhood.

When my dreams were just to go beyond the limits of my street, some of Havana’s other neighborhoods, that I now know like the back of my hand, held the charm of the unknown, the forbidden and the truly dangerous back then.

Neighborhoods such as Jesus Maria, Cayo Hueso or La Guinera and El Canal, filled my imagination with images of those towns that appear in Western movies where you had the face of a villain and a certain dramatic self-sufficiency. I now understand that the sought after incursions into the unknown were my first dreams of adventure also motivated by movies like Warlock (a western) and The Black Tulio or Zorro (both in the original French version with Alain Delon as the protagonist).

These fantasies encouraged me to gradually go further and further away from my house and when I was nine years old, for example, I already knew the best places to go swimming along the Maleco seawall in Havana like nobody else and understood the fact that I came from a neighborhood which was feared just as much as the ones that I wanted to get to know.

A short time afterwards, when I was at junior high school, towns and provinces outside of Havana began to fill my adventurous imagination, still under the influence of the movies I’ve just mentioned.

I remember asking myself what there was beyond the landscapes I could see when I used to leave the city. It was a curiosity that I could satisfy once I began to vist my paternal grandparents in Ciego de Avila (a beautiful province near Cuba’s eastern provinces).

Afterwards, along with my brother, I went up Pico Turquino and we walked for several days along the Yara River both of which are in the Sierra Maestra, to the country’s far-east. Then we went on a trip that lasted several weeks through the province of Pinar del Rio in the far-west.  This is how, always on my feet and independently (a somewhat dangerous word in modern day Cuba), I got to know my country in the best possible way as a teenager.

At that time, a neighbor who was a both a santero and a mystic, as well as a drunk, read my hand and claimed that I would get to know the entire world and have a lot of women or I would never leave Cuba and only get married once. This is how, as well as receiving this revelation for free, I came to believe something that I had already intuitively felt; “Cubans either don’t do anything or they do too much,” like the popular saying goes.

Seeing as I’ve already told you about this revelation, it’s only fair that I also tell you just how spot on that premonition was. While I haven’t been so prodigal when it comes to matters of the heart and I’ve messed up sometimes, I haven’t ignored its gift either. With regard to the part about getting to see the world, I’ve begun to think that the second part of the prophecy is more likely to come true. Even so, maybe less than before, I continue to ask myself, will I ever travel outside of my country?