Photo: Juan Suárez

Rosa Martinez

HAVANA TIMES – It’s 7:40 AM and I’m alone at home. About half an hour ago, everyone left to go about their daily business, the girls one way and my husband the other.

It’s said that solitude doesn’t make good company, but I don’t agree with this saying as I manage to write the few articles I do here on Havana Times in those moments of solitude, and it’s also when I get ideas for other projects, for a dessert, sewing… 

So, I love being alone although I’m ashamed to admit it. I don’t tell many people so they don’t go thinking that I am a bad mother or start thinking that I’m a hermit that is even bothered by the birds singing…

I’m making the most of today being one of those calm days: the woman who frequently shouts doesn’t seem to be nearby, I haven’t heard her shouting, or her children, or her husband. Luisito, the young guy who lives three houses away and dropped out of pre-university recently, must have had a rough night because he doesn’t have the whole neighborhood shaking with reggaeton, thank God. Yanara, my dear neighbor, who turns up at any time of day to tell people things they never asked for, hasn’t passed by either.

I don’t think twice and happily sit down in front of my computer to check over a student’s paper, my work as an editor will bring in a couple of extra pesos to help the household stay afloat, and are so crucial in times of exorbitant prices and food shortages.

I begin to read, understand, fix up a few things here, change a few things there.

I get in touch with the author and explain that there is an error (or better yet) a horror, as he used a term that doesn’t exist in Spanish; I ask him what he meant to say.

Afterwards, I carry on with my work, which I love by the way.

Between different points, I search for some music on my computer, and I calmly listen to some tunes (especially in Italian) as I check over the document.

At this pace, I’m going to get a lot done today, I say to myself, when I hear a knock at the door.

It’s all gone to pot, I think annoyed, but I carry on working to see if the person gives up and leaves.

But, that isn’t the case, they carry on knocking and shouting…

Good morning, a cousin greets me energetically when I half-open the door.

Why are you all locked up? she asks.

I’m doing some important work that I need to get in first thing in the morning tomorrow and I shut everything so nobody would know I was at home and so no neighbors would come to bother me.

Hmmm, well, I was nearby and I thought I’d come and say hello, but if you’re busy, I’ll only stay a little bit.

I’d appreciate it, my dear cousin, because to tell you the truth, I’ve got a lot going on with this work, I tell her affectionately.

I make a good cup of coffee which she savors.

And that’s when she began talking, which I would have found really entertaining any other day, because she is a cousin I really like.

She started to tell me about our relatives that live in another municipality…

And I told her, well as you know, I don’t go there a lot because I always have a lot of work, like now, for example.

You work too much my girl… well, as I was telling you, Carlitos got married, the one who never had a girlfriend that anyone knew about. You remember cousin Carlitos, don’t you?

Eh, ah, Carlitos? Yes, yes I remember…

Marcia’s daughter took up Medicine, she continued, but she doesn’t enjoy it, but you know, it’s the degree everyone’s doing nowadays, that’s all there is…

Cousin, wait a second, let me finish an idea for the thesis before I forget, I’ll be right back…

Don’t worry dear, I’ll wait for you, I’m not in any hurry.

Well, I am in a bit of a hurry, like I told you, I have to hand in this thesis in tomorrow morning.

Go ahead, go ahead, I’ll wait for you here…

Between one thing and another, it got to midday and I had to prepare something for both of us to eat.

After lunch, she carried on with her pleasant family stories and left at about 3 PM.

Well, I’m going to go my cousin, I know you’re busy. I’ll come by another day and we can talk a little more, no?…

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

9 thoughts on “Just the Way Cubans Are

  • Thanks for the response Linda. I am aware of the all-too-frequent relationships between Cubans – both male and female with foreigners from capitalist countries and personally know of Canadians who have married Cubans who upon arriving in Canada as landed immigrants have promptly deserted their spouses. Not only single motherhood but non-marital relationship are almost the norm in Cuba.
    Thank you for your good wishes, but we fortunately do not require them after quite a lot of years of happy marriage. I think another factor is that we have never sought immigration for my wife, as such was not our purpose and I regard Cuba as home. Secondly, I have never been out of shape – whether that is due to being actively involved in sport all my life with recorded achievements, a couple for example at the World Masters Games, or just good fortune is debatable.
    Perhaps we are just the exception that proves the rule.
    As for Fidel, yes both he and Raul were born out of wedlock to a domestic servant and only one of Fidel’s dozen children by five women (Fidelito who later committed suicide) was legitimate. But I think that Fidel’s naturally spiteful nature was revealed when he under Cuban law, claimed custody of Fidelito denying Fidelito’s mother access to her son for many years. Fidel only married Dalia Soto de Valle – already the mother of five of his sons, following the death of Celia Sanchez from cancer -with whom he had a long relationship.

  • Honestly Carlyle, marriage is merely a ceremonial excercise in Cuba, another excuse to party as serial marriages are the norm in Cuba and being highly educated means very little in Cuba, besides making for decent conversation and not much more. Not sure what looks have to do anything as I’ve seen attractive younger Cubans with hideous looking out of shape elderly foreigners.

    The majority of Cubans are not married to foreigners and the failure rate is not limited Cubans, any long distance relationship has a low chance of survival further exacerbated by cultural differences like different languages and social norms, marriage easy,divorce easier, single motherhood is just fine in Cuba as Fidel was a basterd child himself.Monogamy in Cuba and in many parts of the Caribbean is not a highly regarded value except for the old and ugly. As the title aptly states,Just the way Cubans are.

    I wish you both luck

  • Carmen, putting faces to by-lines remains a high risk in Cuba. Rosa should only do so when MININT and its subservient CDR are gone!

  • I regret Linda that you will only have to take my word that my wife is very attractive, good looking and certainly well qualified in education. That led me to query why it was that with her talents she had never married until doing so with me. Her response was enlightening: “I would never marry a Cuban man, they are too macho – but we are equal.” I spend rather more than half my time at home in Cuba. So whereas marriage itself is ever declining there, it is just possible that Tim’s chances of a successful relationship are somewhat better than those of Cuban to Cuban. It all goes back I think to the inheritance of Spanish culture, including macho and indifference to animal suffering – because they “have no soul”.

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