Cuba blogging

I am not sure who reads my blog.  I never check the statistics, not even sure if I know how.  I don’t do all the right things to promote it to the blogging community.  I don’t read many other blogs and put my address, even less so now I am in Cuba.  In fact I am always quite amazed when I meet someone who reads my blog who I don’t know, especially if they tell me that they enjoy it!

I am also quite surprised about some friends and family who are quite evidently not interested enough to read my news either. Busy lives soaked with too much information maybe ……… But I know that most people in the rest of the world can access their emails and read them on the move …… at the bus stop or in bed or waiting in a queue.  I however have to be sitting at my desk when the children are at school, slowly dialing up for a connection that sometimes does not come!  Most of you can’t remember what that is like, so you have to at least admire my tenacity to persevere and get this blog written, when sometimes I get bounced out and lose everything and have to start all over again.

I know I do have some faithful readers since the beginning, like Selena and Bass who often make interesting comments.  I know people read me in Ghana, Dominican Republic, Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, Scotland, Spain, Hong Kong and a few other places.  A Guatemalan living in the US translated one of my posts, the great US journalist Robert Parry published one.  So the quality of my readership not the quantity is my mission.  I want people to discover me through serendipity and an invisible network of good people.

So all you blog friends out there old and new, please tell the good people about my blog. People who are interested in someone with a different life and perspective who tries to blog with a positive tone and not just moaning and griping like many ex pat bloggers living abroad.

Somebody asked me the other day why I bother to write a blog.  It is not because I arrogantly think I am a great writer, it was others who encouraged me in this.  From my uncle Al who always admired my postcard writing, to Marina who pushed me into it and got me sorted with a man in India to do my website.  Also, it disciplines me to sit down and record my thoughts and experiences.  I realise that my life for the average girl from Co Durham in the north of England is not typical.  I want my children to have a record to read, to go along with all the photos to explain who they are and how they got there.  Not many British Guatemalan families living in Cuba …. or haven’t met any so far!

With a lack of Internet time and capacity, I want to keep in touch with friends and family and maybe just a little bit of the rest of the world.  Also, I admit I do want to educate people in the first world to step outside their own smug security and realise that there are other worlds out there and not everything in your life should be parochial.  We are all humans, whether we are in Africa, China, Lyon or Milton Keynes.  Some of us are rich and some of us are poor, some of us don’t realise we are rich and just want more.  Also I do want to bust a few myths about the countries where I live.   And although, where I sit in all this madness with my family and Rafa, his job and his history, it means that I have to show a modicum of diplomacy.  But I always try to be as honest as I can.

I had lunch with a wise and energetic British film teacher and his wife visiting the film school this week.  His wife is from Yorkshire (a county in Northern England).  He said to my husband, these northern women don’t mince their words.  They shoot from the hip!  Well maybe we do, but at least you know exactly where you are with us.

Anyway I cannot write about what is really on my mind in these last few days or the next few days for political reasons with a small p and a capital P so I have decided to take you through my unreal world of entertainment since I have arrived here in Cuba.  When I can, I will fill in the gaps of my real world …

My next 3 posts will be about Cuban TV and entertainment, Cuban films and independent films from other parts of the world available to me through the wonderful library at the film school.


Parties, Cadillacs, potatoes, Valentines ……and blogging

Yesterday was Valentines day.  They call it the day of love here for anybody or anything.  You can even say I love my cow.  I actually prefer this to the sloppy fake romantic rubbish that has been marketed to us for years in Europe.  Everybody gave me best wishes of love all day yesterday but my wonderful husband let me stay asleep in bed, made breakfast for all the children, washed up all the dishes, pans, glasses from a hastily put together slightly drunken dinner with friends the night before …….. and then he had to go off to work whilst I stayed at home, even Saskia stayed quietly watching Nemo for another 20 minutes before she came and woke me up.  How romantic is that?

In the last 3 weeks …….. I have had 2 parties in my house, done a Cadillac tour around Havana, celebrated potatoes returning on the scene, watched a few good films, begun to reupholster my living room suite (or the diminutive 79 year old who is in my living room has begun the job), met a new fun group of Wednesday lunchers, visited an eco reserve in las Terrazas, been back to Hemingway’s house, eaten in a real vegetarian restaurant in Cuba, entertained filmmaker friends from London and grandparents from the Cotwolds, had the best steak of my life, bought an amazing photo of the Malecon by a very talented young photographer, juiced a lot of sweet delicious oranges (its the season!), met a new bubbly Thai friend who is a dress designer (my new beautiful material sent from London will soon be designed into something cool, thanks Amanda!), received lots of wonderful presents and goodies from kindles to cameras, strawberry jam to my new favourite chocolate bar from Tescos, swiss, orange and almond (any Brits rush down there now, you won’t regret it, Thanks Nico!), a whole load of great music, got very frustrated with my lack of internet, repeatedly failed to post photos on my blog, met a Cuban working in occupational psychology in the Cuban social research centre and remembered what I used to do, failed to even begin to think about the English translations of the film school website, and today I made a cottage pie to celebrate the return of the potato. But absolutely failed to write any of this down.  Some of this is to do with living life to the full rather than writing about it or living on line.  But blogging for me has been a discipline, something to make me sit down and share.

So I have made some decisions: I have to write at least something once a day even if it is off line.

Invite people to guest write on my blog!  I like this one, it makes it more fun and interesting.  Not sure if they actually will write anything for me but it might stop making me feel so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I should be writing.

Give up on trying to post photos on my blog and upload them to a related facebook photo page.  I actual do manage to upload pictures to facebook.

Off to swim in the crystal clear sea ……………..


Arrived in Cuba and dialing up my internet!

I bet you have all forgotten what that sounds like.  I have to admit to feeling very nostalgic when I heard that old familiar noise.

Sorry for my absence from the blogsphere but the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster and I feel I have dragged my children all over England to family and friends for way too long with the usual highlights and low points that it always entails.

Now arrived in Cuba and just spent a wonderful day eating delicious food and tropical juices and swimming in the sea and most importantly getting my family back to normal.

So far loving the relaxed rhythm of Habana and the chatty friendly Cubans.  My children seem so happy and at home and Rafa and I feel as though we are having the honeymoon we never had, holding hands and being wistful.  Lets enjoy it while we can …….

Just watched the sun set over the sea and all my children are asleep in their own bedrooms albeit not in their own beds.  Got all that to come … getting our stuff.

Will blog soon about jumping back into British society during a tense and sad summer of a mix of death (Amy Winehouse) and disappointment (the looting of new trainer and plasma screen riots).

My wonderful girlfriends that I left in Guatemala and London.

And first days in Cuba …………




Welcome to Serendipity or Madness – Leaving Guatemala heading to Cuba

I promised I would start posting after Semana Santa and here I am.  My site is not quite finished but not far off, so no more procrastinating.

Just to summarise how I got to this stage.  All the stuff you see in the archives here is everything I have written since I arrived in Guatemala nearly 8 years ago, apart from the endless emails of course.  So if you want to know more about me and my journey to where I am now, dip into the archives.  A lot of it was written to family and friends including great Aunts and 8 year old nieces etc.

Last year I started blogging with a group of people and it was a bit of a disaster for various reasons not worth going into here.  But in those early days of blogging I did not have a clue what I was doing, and still don´t really, but at least now I have been reading other people´s blogs and have spent a few months thinking about what I want to achieve by blogging.

So in my research into other blogs I had lots of fun but did not find many blogs about people like me, emigrant mothers who took a cross cultural walk on the wild side.  There are endless blogs about people skipping off to a new life on paradise islands and making dream holiday destinations their home a bit like all those endless TV shows in the UK.  They are usually doing this with a partner who is from their own culture so they can sit and moan together if things do go wrong.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy I say to those bloggers but good for you for working out how to have the easy life and pulling it off.  Maybe I will visit you one day in paradise.

Also the other kind of blog which seems to involve moaning about your adopted country.  A lot of these, white folks in the brown world being a little bit too superior for my liking.  I even found foreigners blogging in my own country, Americans lamenting about the lack of Tex Mex food, the lack of shopping malls and how tomato ketchup does not taste the same in the UK.  I´ll keep my comments to myself on this particular topic!

I even read an awful blog set up by a horrible American (who is now in prison) who just seemed to spend all his time slagging off Guatemala, the country which had actually given him and his family refuge from the FBI for a couple of years.  Some people are never grateful!

So I promise that I will not spend too much time moaning or criticising Guatemala or Cuba but will try to share my feelings with you as I discover things good and bad.  I am a qualified social psychologist so I try to approach things in an investigative manner.  There is always a reason why people behave as they do.  The interesting thing is to peel back the layers of the onion to find out why.  This way I am always learning and thinking about research topics for when I do return to work!

I am a mother of 3 children but I promise to veer away from the endless cutsey Hello magazine indulgent posts about my children.  But you shall be hearing about them, the good and the bad!  Paulo, Nico and Saskia, my gorgeous little hybrids.

I am not very whizzy with most things technical but I´ll try to get better at putting the odd link to something interesting.

I promise to try to see the world with the sense of humour that my culture is famous for but at the same time I may need to share the important stuff with you too.  Why? because I do care about the world and the mess we seem to have got it into!