A Little Culture

Esteban Diaz
Esteban Diaz

The experience of my first years in Cuba was something surprising. Time passed, but I couldn’t stop pinching myself to make sure this wasn’t a dream – I was living in Cuba!

The good and bad stories that I had heard about the island would later become real experiences for me. I can say that, by my standards at least, I was not so misinformed about Cuban life. Nonetheless, there was something that did not cease to surprise me.

The first two years I lived in an outlying boarding school in Havana Province, and we could only leave on weekends. Although the trip was tiring -because there was very little transportation, and you had to wait on the road for long periods- it was always worthwhile going to Havana City.

Havana’s Yara Movie Theater
Havana’s Yara Movie Theater

There, one could enjoy the cinema, the theater, ballet, museums and concerts, or have ice cream at Coppelia, all for next to nothing.

For me this was a big shock. In Argentina you could only go to the cinema once every two or three years, if you were lucky.

Here I had the opportunity to experience many more things, and one time I even spoke with singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez. He had been standing next to me without my having realized it – something that would have been impossible in my country.

For some, that might sound like something simple, but for me -coming from a country that has none of those qualities- I’m always left with my mouth hanging open. The ease with which Cubans are able to enjoy shows, and the opportunities they have for entertainment, is astonishing in comparison to my country.

The great majority of Cubans would find this rather insignificant and believe things should be better. Over time I have come to agree with them on that point, but still, thinking back to my country, I cannot feel but overjoyed each time I attend some show.

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