Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — I arrived in Miami a few hours ago. Like almost all other passengers, I applauded when the plane landed. I went through the airport without any problems and got into a taxi headed for the Hilton Miami Downtown (where I was to await the beginning of the 24th Annual Meeting of the ASCE, an association devoted to the study of the Cuban economy).
As this was my first trip abroad, I was naturally quite excited. However, I tried to conceal this part of my experience in order to observe my surroundings better, particularly while conversing with others.
One need not know how to speak English in Miami, but it is advisable to use this language from time to time (Miami being located in the United States). I see a great many skin color gradations in the employees around me, which include a number of compatriots (for the most part young). They are still Cuban, but they looked somewhat different to me. I’ve been to hotels all across Cuba, and I can tell you these particular employees are completely different from what I’m used to seeing.
I don’t know whether their bosses are watching them somewhere, but I still haven’t heard any reprimands. I don’t need to ask for anything, there’s always someone at hand anticipating one’s needs, no matter how trifle they are. What’s more, everyone greets you, as though saying: “Here I am, friend, don’t forget: I am here to serve you.”
The Hilton is an English-styled hotel, a tad boring from the standpoint of anyone looking for Cuban flair. It is a splendid place with an overabundance of luxury, but without any kind of exaggeration. The crucial thing is that everything works, not even the water in a fountain ceases to flow at any point during the day. That said, the best thing the hotel has are its employees.
Now I can confidently say that laziness, insensitivity, irresponsibility, contrived problems and other symptoms of an ill society do not have a genetic origin or some connection to tropical climates, as I once almost believed. A woman from the Cuban province of Camaguey, the head of the reception who welcomed me my first morning on US soil, accompanied me to the Internet room and set up a new email account for me, using her own cell phone to confirm the registration.
Now I am ready to report on the work sessions of the ASCE, where numerous professionals, including many who have come directly from Cuba, are to participate. It will be a forum open to all who wish to share their opinions. I will keep all of you posted on a daily basis so that we can all become better informed about the complex situation our country faces today.
There will be plenty of time to express my emotions. For the time being, at this hotel, without a single political slogan around me, I see that many of the things called for in my country have been accomplished here. Incidentally, I did not perceive any kind of distress in the faces of the busy employees. For the first time in a very long while, I feel that there are people whose job truly is to serve me.
Vicente Morin Aguado. [email protected]