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As it’s been a while now since events, to get me back into the flow of the place I just went up to the roof and smoked me a Montecristo, and danged if it didn’t taste first like strawberries and second like raspberries.

After being corralled at Cuban passport control, sent up individually, and then passing through the ominous doors whose finality conjured all manor of terrors on the unseen other side, and each in turn finding… another line, and Chris’ gray (I said gray) fedora getting him marked as a deviant, fit for special scrutiny, by immigration officials for the third time in three days, Persons C, H, N, and I (where I is a personal pronoun, not a code name, oh forget it) stepped out into communism. I, feeling the moment, said something grandiose such as “Already I feel the crushing oppression of this gray, dreary land and the monotonous drone of communism suffocating me with it bleakness” (I wasn’t happy with the original, but the spirit was there), and Honor said “Yeah, can I get another Piña Colada with that bleakness?” José Martí International Airport is a tropical paradise, and the drive to La Habana through rural landscapes interspersed with palm forests is truly wearying to the soul.

As an aside, José Martí is a national independence hero in Cuba, but really only a footnote to the world. However, for the Cuban government, he is their Lenin figure; a dead and convenient motivator whose statue is on every second front lawn (quite literally). His writings in life were so prolific that by selective representation he can be made out to have been a Marxist, while in Miami he can be made out to be a capitalist. This is indicative of a facet of Cuba that surprised me: where in Russia the Bolsheviks removed all statuary bar a few useful exceptions, and replaced it with their own images, in Cuba all previous statues (and there are lots of them) were kept. Even Abraham Lincoln is still stoically watching daily Havanan happenings. History before the revolution was not erased, just likely channelled to ‘useful’ ends.

We found our hotel, the Inglaterra, the oldest hotel in town, with its Moorish lobby bar, Imperial dining room, and bizarre information board which asks pertinent questions about the hotel and then doesn’t answer them. It does however, inform one that a tile somewhere in said lobby tells us in Arabic that “Only Allah is a winner”. Personally, I see Jehovah, Quetzalcoatl, Mazda and Vishnu at a bowling alley looking dejectedly at their smelly rental shoes while Allah jumps up and down, taunting “I won! I won! Only I am a winner!”

Hitting Chinatown, in which no Chinese now live, and eating in a Chinese restaurant in which no Chinese now work, we ate a tidy meal, delighted in this version of Spanish of which I could interpret nothing (I understand Cuban Spanish is to Spanish what Quebecoise French is to French), and then bedded down for the night, only to awake to the dramas of socialist plumbing…


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Nobody fucks with tha Jesus dude...

Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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