Cubans Laughing in the Face of Adversity

Pedro P Morejon

Waiting for the train.

HAVANA TIMES – Every afternoon, when I finish work, I head to the train station. There, alongside hundreds of passengers, a dirty, uncomfortable, slow train, which never leaves on schedule by the way because when it isn’t being checked over, it’s waiting for the engineer, or the engine has a problem, etc.

There is always a reason that they almost always never tell you. On the other hand, I imagine the effort it takes for mechanics to keep these old pieces of junk up and running.

It’s normal to be waiting for up to an hour before it departs. Once onboard, I only have to travel 14 km (8.5 miles) and even then it feels like eternity. I can’t imagine having to travel for the entire two hours the route lasts to the Los Palacios municipality, the final destination, but there aren’t many alternatives.

The other option for “ordinary people” who are the majority, is worse: going to the highway to “hitch a ride”, as we say here. That’s to say, wait for someone who never agreed to pick you up.

To make matters worse, the waiting room has been undergoing repairs for almost two years, and people have to crowd in a small space, nearly everyone having to stand up. During this time, people kill the wait by talking about anything and everything.

One day this week, I ran into the same situation, as was to be expected. Some young people discuss soccer. They repeatedly argue about who is better, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, or there are arguments between Real Madrid and Barcelona fans. To be honest, they just bore me.

A group of men talk about the national situation. The conversation turns to a subject that catches my attention: The giant African snail.

One of them, who seems to be better informed, explains that this kind of species came to the island a few years ago, reproduces a lot, as it can lay over a thousand eggs per year, and attacks any crop, even putting animals’ and human health in danger. He also explains that the authorities are adopting much-needed measures to prevent them from spreading and to wipe them out.

The majority of the group are more entertained than concerned about the news. The well-informed man confirms the dangers.

– These animals are a plague. If they come into contact with a tobacco, corn, cassava field, or anything else for that matter, they will lay it to waste in a night and not leave anything behind.

– My God! I don’t even want to think about what might happen if one of those creatures reaches my field, a farmer exclaims, clearly concerned by this news.

The well-informed man confirms that no plant is safe, that they devour everything.

– I bet you they don’t touch the marabu weeds because nobody can beat it- another man says, toning down the conversation.

– We have resisted a greater plague for years, so this small snail is going to be peanuts – adds a man with more tattoos on his body than a rock star.

That’s when the announcement is made, informing us that the train went off the rails God knows where and that the train will no longer depart. People begin to withdraw, submissively but not quietly. Some shout out a joke, others continue with their conversations as if nothing had happened. The interesting thing, though, is that I hardly ever see anyone looking sad.

I don’t know why, but I erupted into laughter right at that moment. An ironic laugh.

Sometime later, I wondered whether we are masochists or whether our attitude is nothing more than our own psychological self-defense. The truth is that with so much pent-up frustration, we have learned to laugh in the face of adversity.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

28 thoughts on “Cubans Laughing in the Face of Adversity

  • August 14, 2019 at 10:11 am
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    What an interesting story to give the outside world a better view into the daily life of the common people of this beautiful country.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 10:32 am
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    ..The majority of the group are more entertained than concerned about the news. The well-informed man confirms the dangers…..
    Yo quisiera saber en que parte de mundo la mayoria de la gente esta mas interesada en news mas que en entretenimiento, pregunten en Miami, Santiago o Bombay a la mayoria de las personas sobre la realidad mundial o mas cercana a ellos y veran el grado de ignorancia en que vive la humanidad, en mi opinion Cuba es un pais bastante educado e informado.

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    • August 14, 2019 at 11:51 am
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      Get a bicycle. 14km takes less time by bike at a very leasurely pace than waiting 1hr on the platform.

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      • August 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm
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        Have you any idea Bobby of the cost in working hours necessary for a Cuban to purchase a bicycle? Have you any advice regarding how to protect that bicycle from theft – either of parts (if chained) or completely when the owner is working?
        But then I guess you don’t really know Cuba.

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        • August 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm
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          Generally those who support the present day-to-day situation in the Tropical Gulag are those that have never had to live there!

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          • August 20, 2019 at 10:50 am
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            Tropical Gulag ?!? Ai, que dramatico somos !

    • August 15, 2019 at 12:13 pm
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      Porque carecen de entretenimientos o acceso a ellos, la dificultad económica y la falta de desarrollo, sumado a que los medios de informacion son muy controlados por el gobiermo y responden a sus intereses, (hay sólo 8 canales de tv. y todos son cubanos), Internet solo comienza a despuntar y sus precios son prohibitivos, sin hablar de lo lenta que es… ahí esta servido el caldo de cultivo del nivel de informacion (ojo: sobre tópicos nacionales específicos) de los cubanos.

      Reply
    • August 16, 2019 at 8:01 am
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      Yo creo que sí, y estoy feliz a oir que la gente pueden a hallar las felicidades con uno y otro.

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    • August 16, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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      The faces of those Cuban folks waiting for the train aren’t laughing. It’s no different than us here in The US stuck in traffic driving a $30,000 automobile at The Rush Hour.

      Reply
  • August 14, 2019 at 11:22 am
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    My brother the Cuban people are loosing hope ,,,,its better just to laugh it up than cry about it

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    • August 15, 2019 at 8:05 am
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      I agree with you sometimes you are better off to laugh facing adversity then you confront it Cuba is well informed but ignores it a friend from Canada not Cuban

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      • August 19, 2019 at 9:21 pm
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        They have been cut off from the outside world for 60 years now. Those under age 60 have familiarity only with the Castroite rule.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 2:31 pm
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    This was very well written, love your writing style. I hope you got home before midnight.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 2:34 pm
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    A good interesting read, so thank you Pedro for sharing your taste of adversity

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  • August 14, 2019 at 3:26 pm
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    My Cuban brothers deceive better life and the answer is the Americans attiduthy toward Cuba

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  • August 14, 2019 at 4:19 pm
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    In one opinion piece you have summed up both the things I love and hate about my adoptive country…Thanks!

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  • August 14, 2019 at 4:32 pm
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    Gracias! Thank you for such an interesting take on adversity. The cubans have what many others are losing, social skills. People are too busy on their phones, including babies.

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  • August 14, 2019 at 5:45 pm
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    Much better way to spend time than talking about the anaconda that is holding people by the throat. Soon the Chinese trains will take them from one end of the island to the other. In China they run at 350 km/hr ! Until then enjoy your time any way you like !

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    • August 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm
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      if Elias you believe that Chinese trains – reflecting Chinese financial colonialism – for nothing the Chinese do is free, are going to resolve any of Cuba’s inherent problems consequent to pursuit of a dogmatic 19th century philosophy, you have a ripe imagination. What will those as yet, imaginary trains do to resolve the problems of a stagnant non-productive economy? If indeed they do eventually appear, tourist passengers will be able to gaze out and see those hundreds of thousands of acres of good agricultural land reverting to bush, but Cubans will still only be able to travel in ancient converted trucks – equality is not for them.
      I liked your comparison of the Castro regime to an anaconda! It not only chokes initiative, but squeezes out any real enjoyment of life. Cubans are unfortunately unable to enjoy life in the ways they would like, but have to daily struggle for existence. Resolver!!

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      • August 19, 2019 at 9:25 pm
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        Chinese-made trains? Who promised that? Fidel or Raul?

        I wouldn’t count on seeing any of them any time soon!

        Most likely, the whole rail infrastructure in Cuba would have to be completely modernized before any high-speed train, Chinese or otherwise, could ever operate there!

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    • August 19, 2019 at 9:27 pm
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      El Ferrocarril Chino de Maisi a San Antonio, en solo 4 horas?

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  • August 15, 2019 at 8:16 am
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    I agree with you sometimes you are better off to laugh facing adversity then you confront it Cuba is well informed but it rather ignore then to face it I think people in Cuba suffered enough it’s time to give them a break nicely written Pedro

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  • August 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    Welcome to the wonderful world of socialism/communism?

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    • August 19, 2019 at 9:29 pm
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      Amazing all the havoc that one megalomaniacal man could wreak on a once prosperous land!

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  • August 15, 2019 at 4:34 pm
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    Have you seen the roads in Cuba?

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    • August 15, 2019 at 10:23 pm
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      One not only sees them Peter, how about feeling them as you travel? Where else can one see a highway petering out in a field and bridges without approach roads? Es Cuba!

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    • August 16, 2019 at 7:20 pm
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      Can you even find a good map of them in Cuba? lol

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  • August 17, 2019 at 7:47 am
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    Gracias…ellos lo tienen facil..dique compre una BiCi, en Cuba. Paz y Guia…AZMTKO

    Reply

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