From Colombia to Havana and a Dream to Visit Santiago de Cuba

Jorge Milanes

Looking out. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — He walks down Havana’s streets with his strong brows, like flecks of sun, with this large moustache and hair gone silver due to time and Colombian airs. 

He has lived through difficult times, suffered loves, sweet kisses and he has also missed his country’s most delicious dishes.

Here, he has seen people dance salsa, sing, play chess, dominoes, baseball, read, listen to the silence and heard Cubans’ multiple voices.

He brought his enamored air with his love for what’s different, diverse. Emigration.

“Have you been to Carnival in Santiago de Cuba?” I ask him in the middle of our conversation. His expression is cutting.

“No… I haven’t had the chance. Why?” He answers and asks his question bluntly, meanwhile I still don’t understand his response and curiosity.

Colombian, if you love Cuba, its people, its music, I recommend you go to Carnival in Santiago, so you can enjoy the charms of this tierra caliente, like so many people call it.

“It’s just that a lot of people here think that foreign residents have enough money and that’s not the case. This excessive financial imagination people have here in Cuba about emigrants, especially about me as a Colombian, has put me in many a tough spot. I often hear phrases like: How ridiculous, he doesn’t even leave a tip, why did he come to Cuba if he doesn’t have money, leave his country to come here and struggle…,” he replies quite annoyed.

“I come from a modest place and my financial status is that exactly, but as an emigrant, making it count is very hard. Every time I walk down Havana’s streets, people want to hussle me with the same proposals they make to tourists: cigars, restaurants, taxi, room to rent, among others and this includes a commission rate which I can’t afford,” he adds.

“It’s almost inevitable,” he continues to say, “in spite of my austere behavior and my regular visits to the same public places so that people know who I am. I receive a pension which allows me to cover my basic needs, not my wishes and likes.”

For him, going to Santiago de Cuba would imply taking on all these challenges, his behavior between a foreigner and national tourist. In any case, he will need to cut down on his needs and, maybe, if God’s willing, he’ll have the pleasure to visit “hospitable” Santiago de Cuba.

2 thoughts on “From Colombia to Havana and a Dream to Visit Santiago de Cuba

  • He will get hustled even more in Santiago de Cuba . . . 🙂

  • When I think of Santiago, I inevitably think of the house of Velaquez completed in 1517 and still sitting there proudly as the oldest European style dwelling in all the Americas. Cuba has so much history.
    I realize that for those who blindly believe in Castro dictatorship, the balcony of the town hall which is kitty corner to Velaquez’s house is more significant as it was from there that Fidel Castro Ruz gave his victory speech on January 2, 1959. However, Fidel did not mention that the revolution was a communist one as he would have perhaps increased the opposition of those revolutionaries who thought that they were fighting for liberty and freedom rather than yet another dictatorship. The fall of 1959 purge took care of them.

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