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– Una buena aventura

I took the locale bus… it costs 8 cents and took over an hour to go 30 kilometeres because we left the highway several times to go back into the wild and stop at little farms and such. It was so great to observe the Cubans with each other with no tourists around. Old people and women go first and always get the seats…its an unspoken understanding. Teenagers help old people. Everyone kisses everyone, and every sentence ends in ‘mi amor’. I stiffened when 3 gnarly looking military guys got on, having heard that turistas are not supposed to ride the locals transportation and just having a general fear of uniforms in communist countries. They burst into broad smiles as everyone shouted out greetings and they kissed and shook hands as they went down the aisle.

I went to the museum and saw how justifiably proud they are of kicking our asses in the Bay of Pigs invasion in a David vs. Goliath story that is, frankly, one of those things that embarrasses me as an American…. not that we lost, but that we had no business being there, acting like Yankee imperialists. I bemoaned the fact that I had to walk a kilometer to the bus stop in the intense heat and wait 2 hours for the return bus. I saw a señora I had chatted with on the way here and assumed she was going back on the same locale I was. After a half hour of sweltering, I didn’t know how I’d last another hour and a half and wasn’t looking forward to the long hot bus ride back. Suddenly she jumped up and ran for what looked like a cattle truck that everyone stood in the back of. Fearing this was the bus and I would be left behind, I shouted “Señora?” and she waved her finger at me to say, “this is is not for you” and she called out to a large delivery truck stopped at the intersection. She said, “Give the Señora a ride to Playa Larga!”. He waved me over and she climbed on her cattle truck.

I squeezed between 2 Cubans in the front seat. It was a laundry truck, delivering fresh linen between hotels. The driver had no shirt on, was dark, rotund, hairy and sweating profusely, but he had a big smile on his face. We buzzed back in 20 minutes playing a rousing game of “dodge the crabs”… they even let me steer. It’s mating season and the crabs cross the road en masse with pinchers up. Sometimes you can dodge them… other times they are so thick all you hear is grisly crackling and the road is paved in red and yellow. I’m told their pinchers can puncture your tires. He let me and the other guy off at the hotel he was delivering to so I had a 4 kilometre walk back to my casa in the sweltering sun with my new compadre.

He works for the “Party” as a community liaison making sure everyone’s needs are met. When I told him where I was staying, he said they were a good socialist family that supports the community and the Party. Gotta say… they really seem to love their socialism and the government and are extremely proud of the Revolucion. They are very generous to each other and community-minded. They have some of the best medical care and one of the highest literacy rates in the world. In Russia and Prague before the wall came down, everyone was so dour and oppressed when I was there. Cubans love life and seem so content with their system and their lives… It’s been a real eye opener.

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