Friday, 2 May 2008

There are places in this world where the currency is pigs and sex, and I have been to them. I have been to places where I am ceremoniously given the only knife and fork in the street, where the water is undrinkable and the town has no name.

From Trinidad to Camarguey along roads off the map where the old chevy grinds to a halt along lines of volcanic eruptions which pass as roads round here. Money does not buy you a lift, even a pig is second choice. This is not prostitution, it is currency.

My companion is a joy. So generous and thoughtful. He will give a stranger his last drop of water- or should I say beer, because it was days before I had water. The driver consumes the best part of a bottle of rum on the journey and you quickly see why no-one really cares. Here there is heat and rum and your amigos. You smoke and drink and laugh because there is nothing else. No books. No nothing. My most revered posession is a dictionary. The dictionary which represents my fantastic wealth and unfathomable freedom to traverse this planet and speak to the people in any language I choose. I am in love with Cuba, but now my eyes are opening.

They roasted coffee beans in the mountains for me, picked mangoes and swaddled me in real heartbreaking human love about which few of us know anything at all. It was the greatest priviledge.

Onwards to Santa Lucia and days on the bleached sand making love in the surf. Onwards again to Santa Clara and the mountains and waterfalls where you swim alone in the cool ponds. Mangoes and fruits I have never before seen are our food. Onwards to Cienfuegos where my amigo entered a theatre for the first time. Unless you have connections abroad you cannot even afford the measly 1 peso to just look around. China is moving in and the struggle gets harder for those who protect their principals and live according to their own values.

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