Personal Narrative: The Cuba Experience

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The Cuba Experience - Prepare To Be Surprised I'm obsessed. I can't get Cuba out of my mind. It fills my thoughts during the day and my dreams at night. They're confusing thoughts, as hazy as the smog that hangs over Havana. This dichotomous culture quietly rests 90 miles from our southern border. Vibrant cities full of song & dance. Each with the outward appearance of a ghetto. Highly literate and articulate people in western dress barely getting by.

There's only one thing I'm sure of. I'm going back.


You have to sneak in.


I'm crouched inside a Cubana Air Yak 42 that tilts on the runway like a wounded duck. We're waiting for a storm to pass. Fat pellets of rain splat against the scratched surface of the window
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Tanks, jeeps, something. The only object in sight is an antiquated DC-3. It's dumped in some weeds missing a wing. Next to it a low concrete building solemnly stands guard. I step out onto the rain-soaked tarmac. The stench of gas & oil permeates the moist air. The odor follows me into the building where a guy in a starched uniform glares at my passport, then me. He stamps my entry visa and shoos me away. I pick out my bag and walk between two cafeteria tables. Ahead of me an official chats with a guy in a guyabera shirt. He glances at my satchel and waves me through without halting his conversation. And that's it.

My guide invites me to his home my first hour there. His mother graciously offers me some coffee but discovers she has no matches to light the stove. She's truly disappointed. What I learn later is that she didn't forget to buy matches. She couldn't buy matches. I'm unclear whether she didn't have the money or that they simply weren't available. It's a mute point. No matches, no coffee, no hot food. Not that
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Personally, I think its spite. As long as the US turns its back on the Cuban people, they're left with the Castro brothers. Those two have been in a pissing contest with Uncle Sam for the last 50 years. And guess who it's been raining on? Not Fidel. He wears tailored suits and drives around in a Mercedes. Three of them to be exact. Meanwhile the strain of being Cuban cuts into the handsome features of everyone else like rivulets.

My guide asks me, "Why does America do this? I love America." I try to think of a reasonable answer. When that fails I shrug my shoulders and say, "We're a big country. We make a lot of mistakes. It's simply your turn".

I've heard the argument that if we lift the embargo it won't make any difference. After all, the Government doesn't have cash to buy anything. Perhaps. I think once American tourists rediscover the beauty of the island and its people, they'll come. (Don't think this is lost on the other islands. They pray every night that we'll keep the embargo in place. Cuba used to be the #1 Caribbean tourist destination.)

If the tourists invade, that special uniqueness that is Cuba may be lost. I'd hate to see another culture polluted for the sake of tourism. But I'd pour the first bucketful of concrete on one of their pristine beaches if I thought it'd
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