Maria Matienzo Puerta
Waiting can drag on eternally here. I believe it must be the damn fact that there’s water all around.
That’s the way it is. No one can go running around and end up farther than the shore.
Maybe that’s why my mother tells me she going to come visit “in just a little bit,” but doesn’t show up for more than two hours later. Likewise, my friend Nena says she’ll be here at 4:00, but really shows up at 5:00. Or when we go to the theater, a function announced to start at 8:30 might finally begin at 9:00. It’s that we are all convinced that there’s no need to rush.
Contrary to the thinking of Europeans, accustomed to punctuality, here the tradition is so strong that neither can they escape it. Once they get to the island their watches stop, and even the sun sometimes conspires.
It’s a lethal virus that leaches into the pores and can be contracted -behind schedule- in any corner of the city. It seems that Havana, despite its dust and crumbling buildings, has not freed itself from that spell.
And though I mentioned Europeans, it happens to all visitors – Africans, North Americans, Latin Americans… Even when they come to the island on business or to see to some project, they end up wasting time. Whoever hopes to make good use of it must adjust their belt and their character.
It happens that native islanders, who we expect to talk about “serious and interesting things,” are eternally waiting, unable to search beyond what is allowed us in our native land. So our projects aimed at doing “serious and interesting things” remain forgotten in the light of mojitos, salsa and sex.
This Cubanism, or forgetfulness, brings with it certain dose of happiness and bitterness, according to the side you’ve been picked to be on. Though these are sometimes alternated (one can never choose) and without wanting, you too can be a victimizer and make someone wait eternally, because what’s certain is that they can’t rush off anywhere.