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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Cuba's Port of Hope - Page 3

Written by Luke Maguire Armstrong
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Walking through the relaxed streets of Viñales, on my way to the Cubanacán travel office to rent a bike, a Cuban rides up flashing me his yellow bike and asks, “You want to rent my bike? Best bike in all of Cuba. Try it out if you don’t believe me.”


I finish off the last of my water and realize I will be lucky to make it back before midnight. I stop and look off into the distance where limestone cliffs shoot shockingly up from the emerald ground. Above it all, the sun blazes intensely from its blue heaven. Why do I never bring enough water? At the top of a hill where I’ve stopped sit three men underneath a tree by the side of the road. They shout to me, “Eh!” I walked over to them and they extended a plastic glass of rum “We are drinking rum because it is Saturday!” The rum comes from a little carton resembling a juice box. I raise it high and toast Cuba.


“Hey, where you from?”


“I’m American.”


“Oh United States! Bush doesn’t let you come here does he?”


“No. That’s sorta why I’m here.”


“Where did you learn Spanish? Take another drink of Rum! It’s Saturday!”


The three Cubans are waiting for a car or truck that will take them south. They are beaming and vibrant; perpetually slapping each other on the back to express the pleasure they take in each other’s company. Pablo is round and young; he is not actually waiting for a ride but instead waiting with his friends to keep them company. He is very interested to know if I like Fidel and Raul. I tell him that anyone was better our last president and he laughs, relieved. I put my bike on its side to wait with them for a ride.


His two friends Pancho and Luis are father and son, heading south to visit relatives. Luis is an electrician, militantly hidden behind a pair of aviators. He gives Pancho a look of caution every time he gulps down a swig of rum, “Slowly, we have all day.” Pancho just laughs, “Don’t worry papí, Cuba will never run out of Rum!”


Cuba’s Port of Hope, Viñales, Puerta Esperanza, Port of Hope, Cuba’s Northern coast, Valle de Viñales, biking cuba, travel cuba, Luke Maguire ArmstrongAfter an hour goes by, I ask if there will really be a ride passing. “Yes, yes,” assures Pablo, “you just have to wait. If one does not come in twenty minutes, no problem, I will bring more rum.”


Luis looks at the broken bike suspiciously, mumbling something about the Chinese. When another half hour passes, Pablo brings more rum, “The Cuban way of waiting,” he says toasting, “ Viva Fidel, viva Raul, viva Che y viva la revolución!


(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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