Monday, 24 November 2008

A rock and a hard regime

There is always enough food if you have the money, but the average wage here is 7 pounds a MONTH. If you are average you will not starve. There is bread and rice on your ration book. But you will not get enough vitamins unless you have extra money. The tourist currency is vital. Girls will sell whatever they have for 2 cuc, boys are more subtle with the women tourists, but the means and the end are identical.

If you are Cuban you will not be curious. Curiosity is discouraged from an early age. Education is all, but it is all ideology. Jose Marti from the age of five. Lenin, Marx, Guevara. There are no points for asking 'why'. You soon understand that silent shake of the head and eventually you forget to ask yourself. Follow the rules and you will be fine.

The waterfalls at El Nicho are fantastic. They drop and drop through the rocky shell of the planet as if there is no end to its depth. It is rumoured that Jurassic Park was filmed here and the notion is entirely possible, but exploration is not. I tried to persuade my friend to follow the falls but he could not. He shook his head and remained paralysed. I went alone and he sat and waited and worried. Curiosity is not profitable in a controlled society and the prisons are real. Later we climbed to the top of the high hills behind Trinidad. He was triumphant. None of his family had ever been there, nor had any of his friends. They marvelled at the photographs on my mobile. It was 1 kilometre from town.

I gave a dinner party in my Soviet built apartment in Havana. I walked 2 kilometers with 10lbs of potatoes and was triumphant. In the morning there was no water. In the afternoon there was no gas. The electricity had been off all the previous day. 'We are not the third world,' said my friend, 'We are the fourth world. We are intellectually cut off.' The gas came back at 5.00 pm

1 comment:

Jae Stonelake said...

Hi Pippa!

Your blog is amazing, and really eye opening! I only got a taste of Cuba from what you was saying in Spanish class last night, so your blog filled in the rest of it. Their plight is heart wrenching, and certainly puts my own problems into perspective!

Hope to see you next week in class :)