Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Snapshots of Cuba I - The Faces of Cuba | Cuba Journal

I have decided to do multiple "Snapshots" pages for my trip to Cuba. The first will feature "the faces of Cuba" - the Cuban locals who made this trip so fantastic. I will do my best to provide information about each of the people in the photos while keeping in mind a respect to privacy. This post is dedicated to all of the Cuban locals who helped us out and showed us an incredible time. Many of the photos have a narrative to go along with them. I've had a lot of requests to post what "actually happened" in Cuba here on The Column. Well, here ya go! It's my best effort to keep it appropriate while also sprucing it up a bit. Let me know what you think! **NOTE - Many of you have probably heard about my "Cuba Story." This Snapshots page does not include Carlos Freddy, Luis, or Aymeé. They will be receiving their own page. Don't fret, they are still to come. Sorry for the lateness of this post. A lot of this was really tough for me to write so I needed some time to digest everything.

Camilo, Chris.
I would like to start this post by introducing everyone to Camilo Miranda. Camilo is the son of Humberto. I frequently spoke of Humberto in my journals. Humberto travels to CofC annually to teach a course or two in the fall. He has been doing this for 13 years (I think). Camilo, his 22 year old son, loves spending time with the US students when they come to visit. I have to say, this guy was phenomenal. He was incredibly smart, unendingly courteous  open minded, talented, and hilarious. I really miss hanging out with Camilo and I deeply regret not getting to spend more time with him. When I make it back to Cuba I will be certain to take him out for a drink! 
Friends from El Malecón: Derek, Joseph, Yainil, Daniel, Chris, Jared
Yainil is a school teacher; since arriving in the US, we've actually managed to have some contact with her. Daniel is 19 years old. Despite education being free, Daniel does not attend college. He is required to stay home to take care of his uncle who has a severe leg problem. 
Derek, Jared, Daniel, Chris

Chris, John
John, or however you spell your name, you are one crafty person. Definitely just out for a tourist's money. Apparently he was a university student. Despite completely trying to scam me AND getting me started on cigarettes, I wish you the best in your studies, provided they are real!
Michael, Chris
We met Michael in Cienfuegos at the bar at El Rápido. He was not a happy chap. As you can tell, our picture is devoid of smiles. He made a living off of tourists doing things that will remain unsaid here as well as by selling random items such as belts and tshirts. I didn't spend too much time with Michael but he was a good host for what it was worth. 

Michael again - about to blow smoke all over the camera. 

Michael at his happiest moments.

Chris, Carlos
This is Carlos from Cienfuegos. We never got a last name or middle name so it's hard to give him a more specific identity. He is not to be confused with Carlos from Havana. This guy was awesome. He was incredibly friendly, showed us around the clubs, didn't always expect us to pay (shocker), and helped us meet credible and friendly people. Not to mention the guy helped me when I was gracefully throwing up over the sea wall at 4AM one evening. He has our contact info but we've yet to hear anything. Coincidentally, he knows both Carlos Freddy and Luis from Havana - they all grew up in Cienfuegos together. (Small world!)

Carlos, Chris

Carlos, Michael, Chris

Chris, Carlos
At the Micha concert in Cienfuegos.

Cristian, Chris
Cristian had a profound impact on me. I met Cristian at a club called Costa Sur. It was our last evening in Cienfuegos. Our experience in Cienfuegos was so much different from that of our experience in Havana due to the time difference. We were only in Cienfuegos for 3 days so the relationships we built were on fast paced mode. I met Cristian through Carlos. He introduced himself as being 18 years old. He was quiet and shy. I finally convinced him to hang out with my group of people and dance. He was terrified of dancing. We were in a circle of friends and he was the only one not moving; I decided to force him into it by moving around his arms. Picture that - a gringo teaching a Cuban how to dance! We all hung out together until the club closed. More to follow with the next picture! 
Cristian, Chris
After leaving the club, a group of us took a walk to the Malecón in Cienfuegos. It was pretty late, going on 4AM. Joseph, Carlos, and Diyana stayed back a while; Cristian and I decided to take a walk on our own. We had spent a few hours hanging out as a group but I still didn't know who this kid was. We found a place to sit down nearby Joseph (didn't want to break the golden rule). Pretty quickly he pulled out his ID card and laughed. "No tengo 18 años, en realidad tengo 16." So he wasn't 18 after all; also, I guess fake ID's aren't unique to the US. Cristian, a 16 year old KID, was out till 4:30AM on a school night. You had to wonder what his parents were doing. After talking for only a few minutes he revealed what I had feared most; like all the young Cubans we met, prostitution was nothing unfamiliar. Up until this point I had only pitied those who were in his situation. When I heard Cristian admit to these activities, my heart sunk. "You are so much better than that Cristian." He couldn't even look at me. We continued talking, met back up with Joseph. Joseph and I proceeded to have a horrible drunk argument at 5AM in front of the poor kid. After things settled down, we walked him to the bus stop. "La guagua no viene hasta 6." Finally, Joseph and I had to get back to our room - we were leaving Cienfuegos in about 2 hours to head back to Havana. Cristian walked with us halfway and then turned to hug me goodbye. I've never hugged someone so hard in my entire life. "Cristian, you are so much more than you know." "Y tú también." "Me harás falta." He turned and walked away. My first tough goodbye with many to follow. 

Chris dancing with Diyana, a friend of Carlos. PS - she was incredibly drunk.

Diyana and Chris having entirely too much fun. Later she would have a run in with her drunken, angry hair stylist.

Cristian and Joseph - Joseph's notorious "I've been drinking face"
Chris, Carlos
Cristian, Carlos
Cristian, Carlos - one of my favorites!
Yet another favorite of Joseph and Cristian towards the end of the night
Once again, way too much fun. Chewing on chewed-already-by-Cristian gum. One of my finer moments.
Chris and Diyana deeply in love!
Chris, Cristian, Joseph, Diyana at the Malecón
Carlos, Chris
Carlos, up close and personal
Chris, Cristian, Joseph, Carlos
Los Cuatro Amigos!
One last shot of Cristian and I

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