Life is similar to a bus ride, or in the case of Sandy’s Cuban family, a guagua ride. (pronounced waa waa)
The journey began when Sandy rented a guagua to take us to Havana for an evening of entertainment. You see, her extended family is so large and no one owns a car, so it was impossible to treat them to an evening of fun in Havana without renting a guagua.
Thirty dollars bought Sandy an evening with a guagua driver and enough room for the entire community to go to Havana to watch the cannon ceremony.
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” ― Plutarch
When Sandy took us to meet her large extended family in Marianao, Cuba, I had no idea what to expect. We had only been in Cuba for one day and I had no understanding of life in a communist country. My understanding of communism was that everyone in the Cuban society received equal benefits derived from their labor. I thought that it was a classless society where the government controlled everything and where wealth was redistributed so that all are of the same social and financial status.
We arrived in Marianao surprising Sandy’s family because she had told them that she would visit the following Monday. The matriarch of the family, wrapped in her worn cotton dress, limped to the door and showered hugs and kisses on Sandy. Then, she showered us with hugs and kisses, too!
She is 97 years young and still going strong thanks to socialized medicine in Cuba. She lost a leg many years ago, but she received a plastic leg that enables her to walk. All medical care is free in Cuba…or so we thought. The matriarch’s daughter showed us a plastic bag filled with medicines for her and her mother. She said that she has to pay for them, and that medicine is dispensed on a sliding scale depending on the finances of the family. Since she is a teacher, she has to pay for the medicines.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett
We are off island for a grand journey to Cuba, Mexico, and then the United States. It has been a busy week. I won’t be posting from Cuba, but when we get settled in Mexico, prepare for a hundred shots of the old cars of Cuba. On my first date with my husband, he picked me up in a 1950 Chevy! And it got better…on our second date, he picked me up in a 1956 limo. We are old car lovers.
Here is a review of our past week.
Robinson opened his Island Cafe restaurant. It used to be the American Cafe and Hotel. We wanted Robinson to name it Robinson’s Crusoe, but he felt more comfortable calling it the Island Cafe and Hotel.
What a change paint makes! The restaurant used to be off white with red plastic chairs and blue plastic tables. Now, it is so chic! Continue reading →
Living on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua is tranquilo and nostalgic. It is like living in the 1950’s where the quality of life and cultural values are revered. I see happy everywhere with neighborhood communities reminiscent of my childhood.
Bicycling vendors sell ice cream and fruit cups from their carts. A traveling bra salesman even sold me a bra while I was cleaning my beach! I never have to leave home. Vendors selling bread, nacatamales, vegetables, pots and pans, and herbs pass by my house daily.
“You told me once of the plants that lie dormant through the drought, that wait, half-dead, deep in the earth. The plants that wait for the rain. You said they’d wait for years, if they had to; that they’d almost kill themselves before they grew again. But as soon as those first drops of water fall, those plants begin to stretch and spread their roots. They travel up through the soil and sand to reach the surface. There’s a chance for them again.” Author: Lucy Christopher
I walked along the bed of Lake Cocibolca listening to the exhausted earth groan. Her bed is disheveled, scattered with tiny puddles of what once had been the life force of her grand body. The exposed lake bed lay panting in the relentless and monotonous burning sun. Spirals of heat rise from the parched ground as if from molten lava from Concepcion Volcano who watches from afar. Continue reading →
“Deep under our feet the Earth holds its molten breath, while the bones of countless generations watch us and wait.” ― Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies
We met Don Cabo 12 years ago when my ESL student, Francisco, invited us to his cousin’s sixth birthday party. We were in charge of making the birthday cake. At the time, we didn’t realize how immensely this large extended family would entrench themselves in our hearts, and especially Don Cabo, the patriarch of the family.
Surreal looking, isn’t it? We have lived on Ometepe Island for many years, and this morning was our first trip to the garbage dump. I have no words for our experience. It is an open air dump where horses and dogs scavenge for food, children work picking through the garbage, and putrid smells and flies infiltrate every part of our bodies.
Tourists NEVER see this. Yet, I feel that they need to see our dump. Awareness is the first step to changing the world. Yet, in creating an awareness of this atrocity, where do we go from here?
Petunia gave birth to nine piglets yesterday. Today, she suffers from mastitis. My neighbors ran around my yard looking for a fat Cane Toad to alleviate Petunia’s pain, so she could feed her litter. A Cane Toad?
“What will you do with the Cane Toad?” I asked.
I know they can be deadly to dogs and cats because if animals eat a Cane Toad, they can die from the milky white poison released from the glands of the toad. The Most-Traveled Cane Toad What is really frightening in this article is that “people can die within 15 minutes of getting poisoned by a Cane Toad.”