HAVANA TIMES – In Havana, there are very few places where you can go that don’t cost you a fortune or mean that you are surrounded by Reggaeton’s vulgar sect and their followers. The theaters are one of the places that my wife and I still have, a place where we can take refuge whenever we can.
It’s relatively easy and cheap to go to the theater in Havana, and there is quite a lot of variety and decent shows, but being able to see the Lizt Alfonzo company (an amazing Cuban dance troupe) is something else.
My wife, who loves classical, modern and every kind of dance, went to get tickets. As we don’t live near the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater, the same place where Obama spoke, she woke up at 5:30 AM to get there before 8 AM because tickets would be sold after 9 AM and she thought getting in line an hour beforehand would be enough. What a miscalculation!
She called me at 11 AM to go and take her place because she had to go to work and the line hadn’t barely moved forward, plus the ticket booth was going to close for lunch soon. Because I know my country, I wasn’t surprised when I got this call, you rarely get to do anything within the amount of time you thought you would here in Cuba.
When I got there, around midday, it was a sight for sore eyes! Luckily, people who go to these kinds of things continue to be the most civilized people living in the capital, but there were so many and they were becoming irritated because of the heat, hunger, thirst and standing up for hours on end. There were people there from the day before.
Alone in the line and without anything better to do, I began to joke about with the other people suffering while the theater remained closed to Cubans, yep that’s right, Cubans because foreigners could keep going in and buying their tickets.
The difference in treatment of nationals and foreigners doesn’t end there… The line was just for Cubans, foreigners could go straight inside to the ticket booth and buy however many tickets they wanted, we were only allowed to buy 4 tickets each.
Many beads of sweat later, coming up to the ticket booth, the guard (the same ever-present guard at every Cuban state door), came by asking us for our ID cards (from us Cubans, obviously). An old man asked him why and his response was “to put you down on the list”, he didn’t even look at him when he said it, and nobody dared to ask what the “list” was for but sure enough there was a woman sitting down at a table and she jotted down our details into a big and threatening notebook.
Nearly 3 PM, with only 10 people in front of me, the woman making her suspicious notes left her table for some unknown reason and the line (for us Cubans, of course) didn’t move anywhere for another 25 minutes.
During that time, a Cuban national who works at an embassy went straight inside and bought tickets in CUC, which I know now, but at that time none of us there knew what was going on and thought that he had just cut the line, and chaos broke out…
Having survived shouts and shoving from the not-so-civilized people there anymore, and after the guard managed to take control of the situation again to explain the Cuban national’s unique situation, I could go in and buy my 4 tickets which cost me 100 pesos (5 USD), a fifth of an average monthly wage.
Thanks to the wisdom I’ve gained from many a situation like this one, I didn’t let myself get down. I went home happy around 6 PM, I hydrated myself and happy to know that we would see a great dance performance next Sunday, I sat down to write this, wishing for my foreign friends who read my articles to know that they don’t have to wait in line in Cuba, that this is just for us natives, that they shouldn’t be afraid or listen to Trump, that they should keep on coming because the Ministry of Culture would greatly appreciate it.