Memories from Lasa 2017
By Luis Rondon Paz
HAVANA TIMES — I must confess that the first night I spent in Lima city was hell for me. I felt like I had gone back in time to Cuba 16 years ago when I used to live at the students residence at the Universidad de Oriente, where I shared a room and bathroom with complete strangers.
I could have put up with people I know, but that wasn’t my case and I couldn’t sleep. “I paid 12 USD (almost 60 soles in Peruvian currency) per night at a hostel located in the residential neighborhood of Miraflores which doesn’t match my personality or my age. I told myself I have to find something better, it doesn’t matter if I have to pay for it myself,” and I decided to look for a quick solution to my problem.
In that hellhole, morning took me by surprise and I rushed to wake up my presentation partner, we had to add the final touches to our talk at LASA 2017 which would take place at the Pontifical College at Lima Catholic University. “It’s incredible, I’m in Peru,” I commented to my colleague with little enthusiasm while we put the final touches to our presentation.
Luckily, we were able to finish our presentation in time and we left the hostel looking for one of the closest hotels nearby, as the LASA organization had ensured free transport to and from hotels where some of the Cubans who had got grants were staying, as well as participants from other countries who could pay for their stay.
“Let there not be any problems getting onto the bus,” I said to myself, then Yasmin told me that the day before, there were several complaints on social media about this subject, so people were only being asked for their invitation letter to the congress in some cases when getting on the bus. I thought that I would have problems getting on because I couldn’t find the email with the digital copy of the letter on my phone. Luckily, there weren’t any problems, nobody asked us for any identification.
“Well, that’s a good sign.” I thought, and the best came when I received news that I had been given a grant. I was happily surprised by this news, and from that moment onwards, I began to plan what hotel I would stay at, because it was clear that I wouldn’t go back to that dump of a hostel even with my hands and feet tied. “As soon I finish my presentation, I will get my certificate and find out where the grant lets me stay,” I told myself, ready to act.
The “Self-organization practices in the Latin American context: strengths and weaknesses” roundtable was a success, we had joked on the way over that we might be the only members of the roundtable, the only people present at the talks, and to our surprise, there were more people there than we thought there would be. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to debate a lot with the visitors.
When the presentations were over, we headed towards one of the certification rooms to receive our participation certificate and to also find out what had happened to my grant. Unfortunately, I was told by one of the event organizers that it had all been an error in the system.
Then, because I had made up my mind that I would find somewhere else to stay, I asked one of my colleagues who had traveled with me if they could share their room with me. He told me that I could, I only had to give my email and the name of the LASA grant coordinator, and a formal declaration from the person willing to share their room with me at the hotel desk.
That’s what I did.
To cut a long story short, at 6 PM, I had already bid farewell to the dump of a hostel where I had slept the first night. Luckily, I was now enjoying myself in a hotel room in the residential neighborhood of San Isidro, showered – because I hadn’t been able to shower the day before – relaxed, and connected to the internet.
I slept like a baby that night.
To be continued…