Irina Pino

Jovenes cubanos. Foto: Juan Suárez
Jovenes cubanos. Foto: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES — In the holidays, the kids in my neighborhood enjoy going to the coast, bathing in the sea. They also play bul-le, that’s the slang name for it, but it’s just a game of cards which up to six players can play.

In this game, you can bet 5 pesos, or up to 1 CUC per match. Although betting with jewelry, such as watches, chains, rings and bracelets, isn’t ruled out either.

They play this game on the corner, in front of the family doctor’s office and a private-owned cafe which is open 24 hours.

Sometimes, adults join them. One night, a man had a heart attack playing, he fell backwards and hit his head. Many were shocked when they saw that he’d died; but a few days later, they started playing again.

They play in the late afternoon and they can stay at it all night long. Sometimes, in the heat of the game, young people shout out and curse, however, nothing had ever happened, until yesterday, when a neighbor, aparrently bothered by their playing, made a call.

Four police patrol cars immediately pulled up – as if it were a scene from some kind of Hollywood thriller – and arrested everyone, those who were playing and spectators.

One of the player’s aunts began to shout:

– There’s a whole load of sons of bitches and snitches here! Why don’t they come out and show their faces? I’m going to castrate them even though I’m a woman!

Everything happened so fast: they put all the teenagers in the police car, they were laughing, not troubled in the slightest, one of them even asked his mum for his Ipod so he could listen to music on the car ride there.

Once they were at the police station in Playa, they were locked up for a few hours. One of them began to dance reggaeton in the jail cell, as if he was at a party, and the rest kept themselves entertained telling jokes.

In the end, they were just given a warning. The police gave them their money back.

It’s strange, most of these young boys aren’t criminals, one of them is going to study medicine and another one of them passed 11th grade with flying colors.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Entertainment

  • That is very true I was trying to find drug store that my guide worked I new I was very close I spoke to a boy who spoke some English he asked his girlfriend she told me were the store was. The police afterward spoke to my guide and spoke to the girl. She got in a (little) trouble for giving tourist directions. Note the police said nothing to me as I was a foreigner with money to spend. In Canada that would never happen that the police talk to someone for talking to a tourist who did not understand the local region well. I was told by a nurse that she was very afraid of the police.

  • Big Brother is always watching in Cuba.

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