HAVANA TIMES — Ever since I was a little girl, one of my recurring dreams involved traveling, it still does. I went to Egypt and saw the extraordinary pyramids as well as the Nile’s magic waters. I also went to France’s most important and the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre, when I discovered some of its most valuable treasures in a book. While I was there, I even went to the Eiffel Tower and walked beneath its magical lights. One time, I woke up somewhere in Africa, amongst lions, tigers and gorillas. That wasn’t such a pleasant trip, especially as I went alone. You can imagine how scared I was!
Out of all the cities and capitals I’ve visited in books, films and fantasies, I kept going back to one place, New York. Maybe this was because when I was 14 years old, I met a charming boy from New York who I fell in love with. His mother was Cuban and his father from the US. I went to some of the most famous landmarks in the Big Apple with him.
He took me to the Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building – one of Manhattan’s most beautiful skyscrapers with its stainless steel gargoyles and spires, the Lincoln Center, the Statue of Liberty and many other unforgettable places.
Maybe the wonderful memories I have of this beautiful friendship with the New Yorker and his city is why I became interested in a conversation two girls I know from neighbourhood were having at the bus stop.
These young girls were talking about their friend Fernando who had just moved to “New Yol” (that’s how they said it), after having lived in Guantanamo all his life.
According to what they said, this Fernando wasn’t settling into his new environment. He couldn’t find work and was having a really hard time.
But how come he didn’t adapt? If he lived in one of the most developed cities in the world, there should be more than enough jobs. This guy must be a real bum, used to not doing anything here, I thought to myself and continued to listen in on their conversation nonchalantly.
“The scoundrel lived here reselling cigarettes,” one of the girls remarked, “and he wanted to do the same thing out there, even though he could do a lot more than sell cigarettes.”
Cigarettes? I sat there stunned. Do they have this godforsaken business over there too? I pricked up my ears a little more.
“He told me last week that it rained a lot and that’s why he couldn’t call, because the phone lines were poor due to heavy rain,” said the other one.
Well, it seems like telephone lines are affected by humidity not only here in Cuba but in the US too. I continued to analyze their conversation which was almost my own.
“But he told me he would come back soon, whether there was rain, thunder or lightning because he misses this all so much. He hasn’t even got used to the bread out there.”
My god! Another one used to the comedian Panfilo’s bread, who doesn’t adapt to new flavors and textures. This must be one hell of a crazy man, I continued to say to myself.
“I told him to wait a few days, that with all the mud there is the only way he can leave is in a horse cart,” continued my neighbor.
Cart! What cart? He’ll come from New York in a cart? I asked aloud. That would be the worst of the worst. The two friends began to laugh. One shouted, “Girl, New Yol is near Guantanamo, it’s a forsaken little town.”
Nosy people always get the short end of the stick and are left astonished…