The real blog starts here …… out of Cuba!


well not yet …… but just wanted to write a few things here before I get back on my blogging horse.  I didn’t realise how many people have been reading this and how some of them were not very nice people.  But hey they obviously found my life interesting so that says something.

We lived in a very beautiful house in Cuba, thanks to the film school.  WHen I arrived it was a house full of corruption with a pretty good business being run out of it.  I kicked them all out.  My first mistake maybe ……. the house was then burgled a few weeks later by people who knew exactly what our movements were and how to get in.

We had parties once a month for the teachers of the school to thank them for their love and support over the years.  To these parties we would invite a handful of Havana friends, diplomats, musicians, artists and personalities.  I did manage to do around 5 official dinners in 2 years but our house was always full of people passing by to say hello and sit by the sea and chat with us, people from all walks of life and many countries.  That is my spirit, my door is always open to friends.

Everything I bought online was using my UK credit card.  IN Cuba you can’t buy too much.  Family would transfer money for my children’s birthdays and we would buy things on trips for them.

We did not have one safe car most of the 2 years to drive my children around.  Rafa’s car was worse than anyone’s and had faulty brakes for most of the two years.  After a near fatal crash in the rain in my family car, Rafa hired me a car once for the school holidays and this has been jumped on by everyone from the fiscaleria to vicious little students.  It was the only time my children all had proper seat belts.

We were transferring money to buy a car as it was clear that the school would never be able to provide us with a safe car for an 8, 7 and 3 year old.

I am a self-confessed fashionista and I like to look good, friends arriving from UK and Guatemala would always bring me clothes ordered online or bought in the packa (second hand clothes market in Guate) and I had a very good taylor.  I left most of those clothes behind in Cuba when I had to run like a criminal.  But I will always be glamorous when I can manage it.  Style is not about money.

We left Cuba poorer than we arrived, which was quite an achievement!

Last summer when everyone was flying out for the summer we stayed in Havana through the heat of August and managed 4 nights in Cayo Santa Maria.  Partly as so much money had personally been stolen from us.

I will be back with more truths soon.  Children just back from the donkey sanctuary with grandparents!

But just to say that I received so much love and friendship in Cuba and was never really good at protocol, I just liked dancing a lot!




CSI Habana and Paradise lost

Well it happened.  Our paradise is lost and I am working really hard to get it back.  Last Wednesday Rafa had packed his bags and was all ready for his big trip back to Guatemala for the Icaro festival, he was leaving in the early hours before it got light.  I snuck off to bed knowing that I would be alone for the morning rush to school.  Rafa came up later, he was aware he needed to get at least some sleep before his flight.

I was woken at 4.20 by Rafa telling me that his hand luggage had disappeared.  As he knew he was leaving so early he had prepared everything to just fly straight out the door.  Suddenly he realised that somebody else had flown straight out of the door with it.  Then I started to look around the living room.  Where was my handbag, my purse with my driving license and ID, my ipod and base, my blackberry, Nico’s school bag, the little DVD player ……..  Rafa was despairing as he remembered exactly what was in his hand luggage, a large amount of cash to buy things for the film school, his brand new mac laptop with all his work and photos, presents for his sister ……….. and his passport.

The next 14 hours were spent dealing with the Cuban police.  They came in droves and many different departments.  They had a dog, they finger printed, they asked a million questions over and over.  Everyone seemed to be from a different department.  We got tired of giving the same descriptions over and over to different people.  A lot of them were army.  I didn’t understand, why was the army involved.  Many new ones kept arriving and there was lots of hugging and banter and even some flirting.  Some came in army uniforms, some police, some in plain clothes.

CSI woman (as Rafa and I later coined her as her tough slightly sexy  tomboy image could have been well characterised) was there with her box of tricks dusting away with her young black sidekick with the slightly too short trousers.  I described my Blackberry to her and mentioned that it was given to me by my sister in the UK and had a little O2 symbol on it.  This seemed to cause some excitement and we were told to follow them to another office to take more details.  Willing to do anything that helped, off we went.  We then spent another hour with some other police in the office photoshopping a picture of a Blackberry with a little O2 motif and designing and drawing my little Quick Silver suitcase.

Meanwhile back at the scene of the crime ……my name and nationality caused a lot of bureaucratic stress.  Was I inglesa or Britianica? Was I from Inglaterra or Gran Bretagne?  What was Reino Unido?  Even when I had my passport open in front of them.

Why did I only have one surname?  Why were we not married?  Oh goodness we had 3 children.  Yes we have lived together for 8 years.  Is that ok?  We never found the time to get married and most people in the world only have one surname.

The Chanel lipstick I had in my bag (the least of my worries) but did I not like Victoria Secrets???  Uuuuuh not really I don’t really care about the lipstick right now just everything else!!

They had entered the house from the beach side through a side door that lead into a downstairs toilet.   They had cut down our Guatemalan Hammock and supposedly used it to carry their loot.  They had been fast and left through the front door.  They had probably had a car waiting.  The dog got a trail but it stopped at the corner of the street.  They may have been watching our routine from the beach side of the house for weeks.  They may have seen Rafa switch off the lights on his way up.  They must have had a torch.

The boys didn’t do their homework that day and Paulo slept with his new plastic gun on his pillow.  Now we have a man standing outside the house on the street all night.  Everyone tells us that this is the season when theft and crime reach a peak for Christmas.  Everything is obvious now after the event, as usual.

Rafa is now in Guatemala for the last of the festival.  I spent the weekend at the film school with the children feeling sad and mopey and missing Rafa so we could be sad together.

There is very little violence in Cuba and people are not trafficking drugs, raping and killing women but still people also have very little money and are looking to a future where they will have to get real to survive.  Maybe we were too complacent or just damn unlucky but it has happened and I don’t want to think about it any more.

Little by little we will replace our possessions but what is lost forever is the little piece of me that was so happy to be in my new paradise, so happy to trust and smile again.

All my family are alive and healthy and I must think about all the lovely friends who will arrive for the festival and the party and how things can be replaced and family and friends are forever.