Not Wanting to Be a ‘Yuma’

Yenisel Rodriguez

Cristina is from Seville, Spain, but while working here in Cuba she doesn’t want to be looked at as a “yuma” (a foreigner).  She knows that with such an image she’ll always remain distanced from our reality.  She doesn’t want to be like this, but she doesn’t know to accomplish the alternative.

She wants men to give her flirtatious compliments Cuban-style; things like, “Mommy, how sweet you are.”  But every time she gets close to a Cuban she’s made to feel like a piece of merchandise, a First World psychotherapist or she simply finds herself ignored or not understood.

Being a yuma also prevents her from being in situations that are part of the real Cuba.  She always meets Cubans who hang out in the country’s glitziest places: Vedado, Miramar, Viñales, Trinidad, Cayo Coco or the Hotel Santiago de Cuba.

Many of her European friends accept being yumas here perfectly well.  Some even prefer it.  That’s why her Cuban colleagues make fun of her.  They have reached the point of asking her not to “act like a Yuma,” meaning that she should be in fact more of a yuma.

“Girl, what makes you want to find out about our situation like that.  It’s not going to change anything.  All you’re going to find is miseries and problems,” her friends from Nuevo Vedado told her.

Despite everything, Cristina continues with her strategy.

Yesterday she was walking down Obispo Street with a somewhat pronounced movement in her hips.  I looked at her dispirited, because more than Cuban-style sandunga (oomph), her tumbao (swing/rhythm) seemed more like a performance.

Two minutes didn’t go by before she already had more than five flyers for tourist excursions in her hands.

“I told you!” was the only thing I could say to be compassionate.