HAVANA TIMES — I have a neighbor who travelled to Italy on an invitation from his daughter, who left Cuba 15 years ago, when she married a foreigner. His only son also lives there. He had planned a three-month stay, but, a week after arriving, he became so obsessed with returning to Cuba that he came back a mere 15 days after leaving the island.
Before his trip, he would constantly bemoan the fact he couldn’t see his children. During his first week in Italy, however, he discovered that being with his children wasn’t enough, that he also needed a bit of Cuban promiscuity: the noisy corridor, the wife, the gossip of neighbors. Over there, people who live in the same building barely know each other; they don’t have as much contact as they do here.
When he woke up in the morning, his children were already at work and the grandchildren at school. What’s worse, when they got home, they would go straight to the computer or start doing house chores, such that they never had time for him. Surrounded by five people, he felt alone. He started to get stressed and to phone Cuba to tell his wife he couldn’t take it anymore, that he wanted to go back.
The daughter, angry because she had spent a fortune on her father’s trip, decided to arrange his return. Not even the abundance of good drinks there were able to sway this lover of all things alcoholic. He says he wouldn’t go back at gunpoint.
I, on the other hand, would have liked to have the opportunity he did. It is a privilege to travel to Europe without paying a cent, and three months seems like a short time to get to know the many museums and interesting places, the different cultures, of the Old Continent. Today, I don’t even dream of doing this – it would be next to impossible to earn the money needed to travel to Italy.
Right now, a one-week trip to Italy is being offered by Cuban travel agencies at no less than 3 thousand Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). If that’s a deal, then I don’t know what a deal is. The paperwork needed by the traveller is processed by the agency in a week. I have a friend, however, who has been putting together the paperwork for months needed to travel to Europe and get married to his Italian girlfriend.