My New Years in Jibacoa

Jorge Milanes

Photo from Bayamo, Granma.

I have to agree with a friend when she says that the people who you would least think have relatives in the countryside.  This New Year’s, my family and I went to Jibacoa, a municipality of Granma Province, to spend time with some relatives who still live in that rural area of eastern Cuba.

What attracted me most was the chance to roast a pig on a stake, though also I hadn’t visited my family in Jibicoa since I was a little boy.  So this would be a great occasion to kill a pig and to celebrate seeing the family all together.  But the trip resulted in an unexpected charm: discovering the residents’ storytelling – so rich, spontaneous and ingenious.

While eating everything, including the pig’s tail, I heard countless numbers of comical stories – some invented and others real, though sometimes exaggerated after being passed along from mouth to mouth.

I vividly remember the story told by Uncle Lindo, who one day went to the general store to ask if anyone was interested in breeding their hog with his sow and sharing the profits.

There in the store was Bolo Suarez, a man who loved tricking other people.  He said he knew a man who owned a hog and who lived less than a mile from the store.  The man was a very serious person who people called “leather lip,” but only behind his back – a fact that Bolo failed to share with Uncle Lindo.

Following the directions of Bolo Suarez, who had already disappeared, Uncle Lindo went to the shack of the man he was looking for, and — not knowing the trick being played on him — he asked:  “Hey, compadre!  Do you know where leather lip lives?”

They say the man leaped up from his stool and went berserk.  If Uncle Lindo hadn’t been riding a horse, the fellow would have caught him and slit his throat right there on the spot.

My uncle hurried back to the store in search of Bolo Suarez, who — fearing revenge — had “lost” himself in the sugarcane field a good while earlier.