Huffington Post: Americans in Cuba: ‘Why Doesn’t My Blackberry Work?’ Cubans in Cuba: ‘What Will I Find to Eat Today?’
The cast bronze sculpture rests one arm on the bar. He looks ready to order another daiquiri, but in reality he’s observing, with his metal eyes, everyone who comes and goes from El Floridita. Some flash their cameras at that life-sized Hemingway statue, while others see it as something from the past, from that long-ago era when there was nothing unusual about finding an American drinking in some bar or walking along the crowded streets of Havana, a time when 90 miles didn’t seem a great distance, and the language barrier was surmounted by dint of drinks, music, hugs, and jokes.
Despite geographical proximity, for the vast majority of Americans today, Cuba is unfamiliar territory, a region deep in mystery. It so happens that many Americans can’t even locate our country on a map or imagine an island where one can see the entire periphery of its shores from the height of a coconut tree (something like the space inhabited by Robinson Crusoe, but in this case it is not occupied by one solitary man but by 11 million people). In that vast country to the north, there are still those who believe the story of the heroic David resisting the onslaught of Goliath in order to establish a kingdom of social justice, and others who see us more as a political monster where a people, deep in material and moral poverty and turned into robots, threaten to invade them, as soldiers as well as immigrants.
It’s already been half a century that American citizens have been denied the legal right to visit our country. While they have had to learn the names of 11 different leaders who have passed through the White House in those five decades, our Plaza of the Revolution has had only two tenants, both with the same surname. In all that time most of America’s enemies have evolved into business partners, like Russia, China, or Vietnam, or into NATO allies, like the various Eastern European nations. On the other hand, former friends have become adversaries, like Iran or Venezuela, but the name of Cuba (along with North Korea) remains on the same list.
So from the other side of the Straits of Florida, the image of Cubans has been shaped with a great deal of imagination, a lot of past memories, and the stories of the exiles. As a result, it is not strange to view us as if we were living in one of those old sepia postcards, forever frozen in an image from the mid-20th century. A people who still travel in old cars made by Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Plymouth, cars that came off the assembly lines of American factories. An Island trapped between the beauty of nature and the deterioration of its architecture, with neighborhoods that at times seem to be located in New York or Washington, D.C., while at others recalling Calcutta or Somalia.
To walk along the wide avenues of Havana is a trigger for nostalgia for Americans over 60. A kind of déja-vu, bringing back memories from childhood, sensations from their teenage years. We are something like a museum of the early 20th century, but one where those in charge of the “collection” haven’t taken care of the pieces they display to the public, an agglomeration of obsolete and patched objects that evoke a glamor now extinct……Read More
Short URL: http://cubanology.com/home/?p=8028