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Marvila, the Wonder Woman, concedes to the Cubans the grace of visiting their little cay. She is accompanied by the three boys she engendered with her husband from the island. With her star and banners suite she jumps into a plane to confront with resolution the Castros’ “propaganda tour”. They haven’t taken off Miami and she has already to blandish her American lash to put the stewardesses in place. With order reestablished she endeavourers to put her delicate feet on the Cuban soil, which receives the blessing of every one of the steps from the American Superwoman
Bad idea that of visiting a country -in addition, a communist one- looking like the Statue of Liberty. Her presence brings about the mobilization of the commie’s hordes. On this theatre of operations she has to move some times by leap, other times by crawling, then by dragging herself along.
With secrecy she manages to approach the beaches, but they are empty. Cubans don’t go to the beach. Tourists, apparently, don’t go either. “Ugly Americans only”. The Cubans are not allowed to own boats so they can’t escape the island. The tourist guide -a commie preacher, no doubt- tells her that we don’t want to have them. In short, we don’t like boats. A leap to send a tweet about the Cuban boat tragedy brings to our friend her first combat wound: The Castroits, always on the alert, close her tweeter account for eight hours.
Another leap to defy the Cuban version of the Agrarian Reform and our heroin suffers a new scratch. Watch out, we have to move by crawling for a while. This time, with much care, she sneaks a quick look through her window and suddenly discovers that indeed there are boats in Cuba. All of them have been put on watch in her window view. A perfidious warning, this time personalized, by the Castros. We have to be very careful with these people.
But the battle continues. We can give up on the struggle for democracy. A masters’ stab by Wonder Woman takes the commie preacher by surprise and he ends up toasting to capitalism on Revolution square. Now the combat intensifies. This time the Cuban army has taken direct command, and they watch each of her movements. The commie preacher -either recovering from his surprise or having been lectured, who knows- prohibits her to take pictures of the military guys or the armored vehicle from which they watch on her. But this doesn’t deter Wonder Woman. This time, again by crawling, and the picture of the tank is left to posterity. (Apparently the soldiers operating it have time to react and hide behind the artifact of death).
What is left now is to rescue the relatives from famine. An invitation to eat and the Havana cousins brake up crying. The view of a plate of food is received with more crying. Cries for appetizer, cries for main dish, cries for dessert. Cries at the farewell. Cries because there are no boats. The truth is that we can’t help but cry. Like when Rambo rescues the prisoners from the perfidious,
Vietcong aggressors, and the spectator is shaken to tears.
It’s been a ferocious and hard struggle, but at the end democracy overcomes and our heroin returns victorious, so as to give us this jewel loaded with lies and stupidity. Wonder Woman has ended up unscathed from her tour of communist propaganda so that liberty will be fertilized with this educational nonsense adorned with objectivity, balance, journalistic independence, rigor, professionalism and love for the truth.
Complicated times are on the horizon. All kind of Americans will visit us. Excellent people, good people, regular people of simply Ugly Americans, inspired on folks as this one, herself inspired on some others who came before. All victims of the same propaganda, preaching, and prejudices spread by a machinery of miscommunication devoted to multiply ignorance. All of them finding on the eyes of others the same log of their own limitations, lack of values or alienation.
Like they say in Venezuela: “Better to keep a peeled eye”.
PS: Some other lies are overlooked so as to leave something for the intellectual training of the reader.
The Daily Success Speaker
So, we went to Cuba for the Weekend…..
Almost 25 years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting a Cuban-American NASA pilot and marrying into his large, wonderful Cuban-American family. Over the years, we have raised three fine Cuban-American young men who could never quite grasp their heritage. A visit to their dad’s roots was not an option until only a few years ago when the U.S. State Department approved educational tours — or as I like to call them — propaganda tours. In addition, the costs associated with such a trip, and family schedules, also got in the way time and time again.
Recently, the planets aligned for Spring Break 2015, and we decided the time was ripe to beat McDonald’s and Starbucks to the Justiz family homeland. After much research, a family trip was booked. Less than three weeks later, President Obama announced the easing of some Cuban travel restrictions and the floodgates opened.
With six family members, a credit card problem (not the fault of the tour company), two family members with the same name (think about that before you name your kid) and the sheer number of Americans who decided they needed to be in Cuba NOW, there were bumps in the road. Our tour company was immediately proactive every step of the way. We were on our way to Cuba.
Here are some observations and experiences from our weekend in Havana:
- If you want to travel to Cuba, keep in mind things will never work as expected from beginning to end. Memorize the phrase:A lo Cubano. Loosely translated to “Oh well, stuff happens.” Your patience will go a long way towards making this a good trip.
- The check-in process at Miami International takes about four hours. We were about the only people not taking a 50-inch TV back to Cuba. Once on board the charter, three of my children had tickets in row 34 on a plane with only 33 rows. This mom had no “a lo Cubano” for that, and may have frightened a flight attendant or two. Seats were found.
- Luggage for all but two people in our tour group of 24 came on another plane, almost three hours later. Those 50-inch TVs apparently took up all the cargo space on our flight. Cuban customs officials all look like super models, with the women in tight, form-fitting miniskirt uniforms with epaulets and fishnet stockings. You can’t make this stuff up.
- The first thing you notice when you finally escape the airport are the cars. The cars you have seen in pictures. The cars you wanted to see — but it turns out to be a very surreal moment standing in the Cuban sun actually next to one. It looked like a movie set to me. Many of the cars, specifically the taxis, are in excellent condition with fabulous paint jobs. The average Cuban makes about $20 a month. Is it the Cuban government subsidizing this look, or capitalism at its best? We vote capitalism.
- There are no boats. Or jet skis or paddle boards, or anyone in the beautiful blue water. No one. Most don’t notice that until you point it out. Cubans can’t have boats— they could escape. So, best not to have any water sports for the tourists as well, in case they decide to become helpful. I tweeted this and lost my Wi-Fi signal for eight hours. (Coincidence?) I then asked our guest lecturer (remember, this is an “education” tour) about the boats and was told “Cubans don’t want boats.” As we packed to leave Sunday morning, four boats went back and forth in front of our hotel with a clear view from our room. (Coincidence?) (Lack of boats, then boats images here.)
- Yes, the entire family had hi-speed Wi-Fi in the hotel.
- While you are eating a fabulous breakfast buffet with huge amounts of food including a large bottomless bowl of delicious grilled potatoes, residents told us Cuban families stands in line for one 10-lb. bag of potatoes ONCE A YEAR. They are also rationed seven eggs a month, and one pound of chicken a month.Enjoy that buffet.
- The iconic “Che hat” is for sale everywhere with tourists picking them up by the hundreds and posing for pictures. You can even buy one overlooking the fort where Ernesto “Che” Guevara executed hundreds, if not thousands, of people even remotely associated with the Batista regime. Do me a favor. Don’t buy the hat. (You’ll see our tour guide and me in the image link below posed in front of a large Che image with bottles of the Texas Shiner Beer we legally imported in our luggage. Our way of saying, “Ha Che, you lose!”)
- Our intrepid guest lecturer from above went on to talk about “land reform.” I raised my hand to ask, “Is that when the government confiscated the homes of my husband’s grandparents.” I was told to sit down; I had had my “boat question.” (Probably not a good idea to take me to a communist or socialist country.) Watch Wonder Husband see his maternal grandfather’s home for the first time in 55 years:
- There is a street in Old Havana named for Wonder Husband’s paternal grandfather, Tomas Justiz. That is a picture we will cherish. What you don’t see in the picture — a large military presence watching our every move. Our really smart guide suggested I NOT take a picture of soldiers or their tank. See the images here.
- We met cousins who were born after the revolution. Our dinner invitation was received with tears. The platters loaded with food were received with more tears. The tears flowed again later that evening when we had to say our goodbyes. Can your cousins come visit you? Ours can’t. No boat…
- The cost for a trip to Cuba from the U.S., done properly and legally, ran us about $3,000 per person minimum when all was said and done — and that is just for a few days including air, hotel, transportation, fees, visas, guide, etc. There are still forms upon forms to fill out and going with an established tour company such as InsightCUBA, makes the whole process much easier.
- As soon as you arrive at the Havana airport, you see the lack of efficiency or even space for all the passengers arriving. There aren’t enough bathrooms, and there is no food or water until you pass through customs — which for us was a several hour process. Flights and hotels are at a premium right now, the infrastructure is just not therefor the sheer number of people who want to visit Cuba. It probably will be — along with McDonald’s and Starbuck’s — in a few years.
I could write for days and never be able to sum up the sights, sounds, feelings, confusion, elation and politics of Cuba. What I can say is this: Cuba was the flavor of the Caribbean, the iron balconies and street music of New Orleans, the political suppression and fear of Russia, the poverty of Mexico, the quaint sidewalk cafes of Europe, the corner parks of New York City, the family love of Miami and no boats.
Will I return? Yes. In a heartbeat. I have been tied to Cuba by marriage for almost 25 years. I am now tied to Cuba by hope.
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