A Frustrated Trip Abroad

Osmel Almaguer

Alfredo, the young man who I wrote about who would sell his clothes and equipment received as a member of the national swimming team, has quit the sport.

He still doesn’t know what he’s going to live on in the immediate future. He told me that probably his girlfriend can help him out since she’s a stellar diver on the women’s team and travels abroad every so often. Then too, maybe his parents will also help him climb out of this hole he’s found himself in. Or perhaps he can start a real business selling clothes – only that now they won’t be his own.

Alfredo knew that he would never go very far. It was a second-rank member of the Cuban swimming team and only traveled overseas when there were schedule conflicts for two events that prevented the top-ranking members from attending.

The ability to travel, something improbable for most Cubans, was Alfredo’s main motivation for continuing in the sport, and it was why he recently decided to quit.

In this case it didn’t involve any injustice; it was simply a question of his disappointment. It turned out that two teams had been formed. One would attend the World Swimming Championships in Spain and the other was going to compete in the ALBA games in Venezuela.

Alfredo was selected to participate in the ALBA games. But all of a sudden when he was practically boarding the flight, so to speak, they decided to take the same team to the two events.

The possibility of Alfredo traveling vanished. His plans, his planned business, all went up in smoke.

Cubans who are lucky enough to be able to travel for work reasons go with the intention of making whatever sacrifice — not eating if necessary — to bring back a few items that they obviously can’t get here.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

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