I missed my one year anniversary here in Cuba. It was August 14th when we arrived last year so I am summing things up a little late, partly due to not having much time to get on line; and also we were all in a temporary dip in our enthusiasm for our life here. The telenovela had become a little bit too gritty and I was too hot and bothered!
Now we are back up, and I am enjoying my Cuban life again just as I did when I first arrived. I am still not tired of meeting film makers and teachers and dancing with the students at the film school or getting dressed up and going to diplomatic parties in beautiful venues, palaces and hotels in Havana. I am still meeting interesting people from all over the world and making good friends and I still have so many things to write about and to do that I am always busy.
Rafa gave me an official role at the film school which I was already doing. I just wanted the acknowledgement and a card saying …. International Public Relations, which means I get to talk to anybody and everybody about how great the film school is. Not a difficult task. But I too have other little projects like trying to get more African students, not easy but we are making progress and collecting contacts. I also enjoy meeting and entertaining the visiting teachers who are a very important part of what makes the school unique. We have around 40 teachers who come every month from everywhere ……. Spain, UK, France, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, US, to name a few …….. over a year that adds up!
After a year of good and bad domestic experiences, I now have my lovely Mayda running the house and the parties and the shopping and the maintenance and the children. She does it so well that there are days when I feel as though I am living in a hotel. If there is one thing I would like to do for her in the time I am here, it is to reunite her in some way with her daughter and only child who left with her husband on a boat 4 years ago. A classic Cuban story, Mayda is too young to be allowed to visit her in the States and her daughter was recently denied her entry back into Cuba to visit. Her son-in-law was given permission to come back but not her daughter and they both shed many tears of disappointment.
Mayda to me represents the good side of Cuba. She works hard, always has a smile and a kind word and is loyal, funny and noble. Some days I have to force her to sit down and eat a proper lunch as she never thinks about herself, just how she can make my family’s life better. She is the one who has consoled me when times have been tough, and my decision to promote her and recognise her work, I hope will help in some financial way, to reunite her with her daughter.
The boys are happy in school and reading and speaking French which makes me so proud. They now have Cuban accents when speaking Spanish and supported every Cuban athlete in the Olympics. In fact during the Olympics it was fun to see how they supported UK, Cuba, France, Guatemala (got their first medal!!) and of course Jamaica (on the grounds that it used to be British and was in the Caribbean and they had Bolt!).
And how do I feel about Cuba? Life is never boring and I have learnt a lot about humanity and life and love already. I know I will always defend the Cuban people for their fun and their intelligence and their ability to resolve their lives no matter what the world or the state throw at them. You have to admire their resilience. I hope that all the good things that they represent can shine through all the corruption and unfairness that can make life bitter sweet. I also hope that the Bling Blings don’t take over and turn the country back to what it was becoming in ’59 except this time with Reggaeton and Dolce and Gabana fakes. Please Cubans learn how to do business without selling your daughters and your soul and keep your own quintessential style, don’t copy from the mainland.
Now I am planning my trip back to the UK with my Saskia to see her Grandma (not Granma!) and family and godmothers and good old friends who have patiently kept in touch with me and my life over all these years. For those who don’t get the joke see link. Granma was the name of the yacht that transported Fidel and Che and the others to Cuba in 1956 and has since become the name of a province and a newspaper. The boat itself was restored and can now be seen outside the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. I find it a little ironic that such an icon of the Revolution is a misspelled American word because we spell it correctly in England with a d!