Round the world without odour eaters
Easter Island (7)
French Polynesia (11)
Hong Kong (8)
New Zealand/Aotearoa (50)
* The End
* Day 189: London baby!
* Day 188: Museums
* Day 187: MTR
* Day 186: Kowloon Park
* Day 185: Peak tram
* Day 184: Central and Admiralty
* Day 183: Fly away
* Day 182: last day in Kiwiland
* Day 181: Auckland
* Day 180: Bouncy pillow
* Day 179: Christchurch
* Day 178: Christchurch
* Day 177: Fairlie
* Day 176: Hooker valley
* Day 175: Mt Cook/Aoraki NP
* Day 174: Oamaru
* Day 173: Dunedin cafe culture
* Day 172: Taieri Gorge Railway
* Day 171: Otago Peninsula
November 05, 2004
Day 26, My first Spanish phonecall
Carlos and I cycled to immigration this morning. Cobblestones and a sore ass from horseriding donīt really go well together and I wasnīt a very happy bunny.
At immigration, the officer who deals with extensions was not there, but in Sancti Spiritus, so I have to go back. So we cycled back, uphill. Carlos may be īgorditoī but heīs in much better shape than me...
Then I went to look for Etecsa, which is like BT or Belgacom. I called Ivón and told her I was coming saturday, not friday as I had said, because otherwise sheīll get worried again. I also called Lanchile and confirmed my flight, so thereīs no way back now, Iīm really leaving.
I tried to get some sleep, butI have too much going through my mind. Elliot came with a bunch of English guys and I helped things along by saying how good the house was. After, I was talking to Elliot and he said heīs an English teacher in a secondary school, but he didnīt seem too enthusiastic about it, which I suppose is hardly surprising considering the lousy paycheck. He was also saying he was looking for a girlfriend, but not a Cuban one. I asked why not and he said he liked white girls but perhaps there is more to it than that.
He keeps saying that if we have any spare clothes people would very much appreciate them as they are very expensive and they donīt have much, but since Iīve been here I havenīt seen him in the same outfit twice, heīs consistently better dressed than me. I guess itīs one of the perks of his job, selling the casa of his dad to tourists. But generally, itīs very true that people donīt have a lot of clothes. At the Parque Cespuedes, a guy called Mario asked if I could give him some money to get his shoes fixed, and he showed me the soles which were all but gone. So I gave him some pesos.
Yesterday a man who said he was a musician at the Casa de la Trova asked if I would contribute 80 centavos to buy one string for his guitar, he needed three. That was about the saddest thing Iīve heard so far. Carlito said that yesterday they stole the petrol out of the motorbike across the street and Elliot once had all his clothes stolen at university.
Thereīs a quiet desperation to the people here, which they are not allowed to show as there is loads of police about. They are not as up front and in your face as in Havana, but you can feel ítīs more genuine, they really need it. Elliotīs family is one of the better off ones, but a street up there are kids with no shoes playing in the dirt. Thatīs how close the difference is. Like Havana, Trinidad is full of painful contrasts, even more so because the tourists blend in less, and the police presence is oppressive.
But Cubans are naturally curious, and they ask about your country, even after you have said you canīt give them anything. Itīs amazing how well informed people are about geography. Whereas a European person may only vaguely know that Belgium is north of France and that you have two languages, all of the Cubans know you have vlaams and francés, and they have heard of Bruselas, Anverres or even Leuven. Itīs very impressive, even if there may be an ulterior motive. Cubans have friends all over the world, but there is always a double edge to that friendship, because it usually involves the other party sending gifts to them.
Dinner was pork, rice, beans, chips and cucumber. And a hell of a lot of Cuba Libres as Carlito kept pouring them in. He was getting very borracho (drunk) in the process. After, we went to the Casa de la Musica and there were dancers. I joined Angela, a German woman, as Regis and Ingrid were tired and went back home. I met up with Jenny, one of the English girls we met in the cave disco. Sheīs extremely blond, and has spent a year in Thailand as a diving instructor. The newly arrived English guys were there as well.
Elliot sat at another table for most of the night because there was a lot of police, which really sucks. Itīs like bloody South Africa. I went to talk to him for a minute and he burst out īI need to get out of here, I canīt stay here any moreī. Heīs had enough, and itīs not hard to understand why. Itīs really fucked up when you are considered a second class person in your own country, and the tourists have more rights than you.
Anyway, we set off for Fresa y Chocolate, where there was even more police, so Elliot disappeared from time to time when they were looking at him too much. Itīs kind of a dodgy disco, so I donīt recommend going there on your own, but with a group itīs not too bad. The toilets are gross though. We stayed until the place closed at three and on the way back some of the very drunk English got lost. I donīt think Eliot could be too bothered to be worried though...
Everybodyīs following the elections in the US. Not that they think either of them are any good for Cuba, but they thought Kerry may have been more moderate. Tough luck...
Posted by Nathalie on November 5, 2004 08:47 PM
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