He laughed, "In Cuba, we don't have that...that is safety, that is time, that is money. It is knowledge, power...it really is so incredible. It's within your reach."
A conversation about privilege, the breadth of technology and internet conditions in Cuba.
Claire and I were in the car with her daughter, listening to rock that would pop up on the commercial-less radio station. The windows were down and the air was whistling through the car, brushing up on my face with a warmness that was soothing. I peered out of the car at the changing landscape, the city shifting in my perspective, slowly being replaced by green and yellow foliage that clung to the ground. They stood still, rooted, though tall and I imagined that the tall grass would sway had there been a breeze. There were less of the huge vulture-type birds circling in the sky, as there was less trash to feed on outside of the city. Each person felt distinct, as I observed the few that were peppered within the new terrain.
We drove off on the side of the road, approaching the equator. There were no huge signs or large amounts of people. You would probably not guess that the equator was there if you hadn't been searching for it.
Squeamish warning...this story includes a recount of me getting a hookworm. The pictures are included under "Read More".
I walked down the dirt road, carrying a blue felt bag filled with groceries in each hand. Avoiding the ditch that lay bordering the outer edge of the main street, I looked around to make sure I could walk across. That’s how it went here, there were no crosswalks, traffic signals, though later on some started to be created. “Ah!” I cried out in pain and stopped in my tracks. I put down the bags and doubled over, breathing steadily to manage the pain that shot through my thigh. What’s going on, I wondered, as the pain started to cool off. I had been getting foot cramps frequently for the past couple of months, and figured that something must be out of line with how my feet were resting in my sandals. Maybe I am wearing them too much, I have high arches and probably need some more support. Over the last week, the pains in my feet had grown, and I was constantly scratching at the underside of my left foot. There were a couple of bumps that looked like mosquito bites, and they itched like no other bite that I have had. I resisted scratching, knowing that there was already a level of irritation that happened by the level of contact the bumps had just by being on the bottom of my foot.
I wanted to sit down though, my legs felt weak and rest knocked at my door. I opened the gate to the house I stayed at, and entered in guided by a loud creak and a series of metal on metal bangs, who showed no shyness to scream that they had made contact. Sitting down on the couch on the porch, I put down the bags and kicked off my sandals. I bent in my left leg, forming a pretzel shape, and looked at the bottom of my foot. There were red lines covering the bottom, they were lifted and could be felt by running a finger over them. This, is not a normal mosquito bite, I thought. I can’t ride this one out, waiting for it to heal.
Toto’s Africa “and the wild dogs cry out in the night, as they grow restless longing for some solidary company”, reminds me of the dogs howling out here at night. Sometimes it felt kind of eerie. One night, I heard scratching and some knocking-like sounds coming from outside of my room, opposite of where the door was. The dogs were howling and howling, as if something had died. Something felt off, and I texted Jackie, who slept in the room next to mine, and told her of my eerie feeling. I didn’t want to freak her out, because she had only been here for about a week, but I thought, she might as well get used to the way it is here. Yes, that would entail that I would get used to knocking sounds against my wall and dogs howling an unusual amount, but the situation felt off. I think I was also scaring myself, but I knew that break-ins were common. Was someone outside? My door was locked, what about the others? I waited a couple of minutes and there was no sound anymore.
“I got your text this morning.” Jackie said as I was brushing my teeth outside the next morning. She had been sleeping, but I wondered how she could have slept through the howling that night. Previous people who had stayed at the house were kept up some nights by the neighbors partying or by the dogs, while there were times I slept through it. The same scenario of people trading off being kept up at night would ensue with future roommates.
I would hear the song, “Africa” so many times while in Africa. I heard it in clubs, on busses, on the porch with my roommates, as we all sat around singing along as it poured rain. I remember playing it in Morocco, but it was popular here. I think part of this tribute is that something about Sub-Saharan Africa felt more like the stereotypical picture of what Africa is. North-Africa seems more stereotypical of what the Middle East appears to be. At least this was my initial perception, and I had heard it from other people as well. Africa is a huge, diverse continent. I do like the way that the song seemed to romanticize the reality of being in Africa, though.
Thank you for visiting! This is my personal blog, where I write about social justice, geography, culture, and my own encounters and reflections from around the world.