HAVANA TIMES — “Hey, have you read the horoscope for 2013?” “No, what do things look like for this year?” “Wonderful, my friend. The predictions are excellent. They say that this is the year of travel.”
This was the conversation I overheard between two women. I immediately thought about how for Cubans the ability to travel has become one of our most important goals and is among our most cherished dreams.
Distances on an island are as limited as the possibility of changing it. That is why sex, food and politics are mandatory topics for Cuba’s inhabitants. Indeed, the mention of sex, food and politics is the requisite beginning, middle and end of any conversation here. These are the issues that weigh on us.
To talk about traveling is more comforting. It’s like a release, and from that release (sometimes) is born the possibility of overcoming distances and changing the island. In fact, at the expense of those who travel (one-way or round trip), this island manages to sustain itself.
The ways or means of accomplishing travel are not what’s most alarming. These are seen and heard about every day:
– Leaving on a scholarship to study abroad.
– Going on an international aid mission.
– Having a friend or relative send them a letter of invitation.
– Going into exile for purposes of family reunification.
– Marrying a foreigner and often using their body to pay for the ticket.
– Paying for a seat on a high-speed motorboat and risking their life.
The fact is that people don’t mind leaving their loved ones, those in their everyday lives. They leave their land wrapped in a fog of fables, crazy about the American dream, or the European, Asian or Middle Eastern dream.
What speaks volumes is that we’ve been left without dreams here. The obsession is to reach those strange lands, hoping to make up for the shortages that we have been condemned to for so long.
The new immigration policy is driving everyone crazy – selling their properties, turning to Facebook or Twitter to ask friends and family to throw them a rope. Those who are youngest want to change their horizons, while those who are oldest don’t want to die without knowing other settings.
This is the life of a Cuban, consulting all of the different modes of divination for their “destiny”: To see what the New Year brings. Putting hope in the horoscope’s predictions.