Friday, April 8, 2005

Cuba - Baby got Back

In case you didn't know, I've been kicking around Cuba with a friend, Trude, for two weeks. We've sat on icing sugar white beaches, studded with palms. Swam in liquid crystal water. Eaten like royalty in private homes stuck in 1950's time traps. Rum and music are everything in the evening; one night we felt like we were in a vintage movie as we cruised in an antique Chevy, hosted by two young Cuban male models.

Right, now that you have called me B...!....T....C....H at least once I have got that out of the road and can fill you in on what little I understand of Cuba.

1. MC Hammer is not the tune I expected to have in my head but the bums of cartoon proportions on the women have me gaping. Fair enough, many are of African descent, but it must be difficult getting through doors.

2. The women can wear anything they like as long as it is skin tight and tacky. Combined with point one, imagine white bike shorts stretched to be see-through, teamed with a rolls of fat escaping a halter top. Never again will I scoff at teenage Australian chicks sporting their muffin tops. They are amateurs compared to the Cubans. (For a definition on muffin
top - email me later)

3. Communism means food is a limited resource. Rationed and too expensive, food that is affordable to people seems to be mostly oily pizza, anything fried and anything pastry. Hence, the rolls on parade. Atkins would have a heart attack.

A popular meal: something like pizza that needed the oil squeezed out of it before eating

4. In stark contrast, we eat like Queens in the private homes licenced to have tourists stay.

5. Point 4 makes it hard to understand how everyone else lives. Self-righteous tourists declare they have nothing. A taxi driver told me how bad the West's obsession with money is. Everyone is educated. The arts are ubiquitous. Plenty of young men hang on corners with nothing to do but provoke the girls (and me) to want to hit them. I enjoy a life free from visual advertising pollution, to be replaced by endless political slogans on billboards and buildings. They queue for banks and buckets of water, but the greatest queue of all is for ice-cream. Yesterday I saw three girls scoffing huge cones, three each! They love it.

One of the many political billboards featuring Che: a man without blemish and without fear. Photo courtesy of Trude.

In summary, I know nothing: contradictions everywhere. It feels as if understanding the culture is kept behind a veneer labelled TOURISM that I can't see behind, especially without Spanish.

I am on my own now for 12 days and already today three people have wanted to be my friend (and my brother's special friend apparently - look out Scotty one sexy chick has your address). But, I don't know how far to trust people; tourism has meant hassle in some places. So, I am trying to keep away from the tourist hot spots, and I hope my next report will have more tales of mayhem, missing from the first two weeks.

Anyhoo, I'm off to sit in park to work on the art of doing nothing, and learn how to say "I and my brothers are married".