Well here I am… somewhere in the northern keys of Santa Clara Province, Cuba, sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, and tapping my fingertips across my laptop. It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’ve been feeling a burning sensation for some time. Part of it is due to the splotchy crimson tan I’ve been working on and the rest of it bows to the fact that I haven’t been at my writing for a few days.
It’s been a whirlwind of experience beginning with my three American neighbours, Casey, Eric, and Jennifer. Met ‘em at breakfast a couple of days ago. Casey and Eric grew up together and live in LA. Jennifer hangs her hat in San Francisco. Three Americans in Cuba. That makes ‘em kind of special in a not retarded way. They were quick to laugh at themselves as well as at my jokes, so I liked them instantly.
As breakfast concluded, we sat on Marta’s balcony and undertook a painstakingly complicated operation called, ‘making plans to meet up later at 10pm’. Fortunately we were all incredibly bright individuals and it only took us 37 minutes to figure out the best way to implement this operation. It was elegant in its simplicity, yet complicated in its precision and we were all very proud of how well it all worked out. We were to meet up at Marta’s sometime around 10pm and figure things out from there… and guess what?
But first came everything after ‘breakfast with my American neighbours’, but before, ‘making plans to meet up later at 10pm.’
Enter… the Australians.
I took the elevator down to Sandra’s and encountered a curious assemblage of Australians at breakfast, Daniel, Casey, Katie, and Lucy. I drank coffee with them while they ate. We all seemed to get along pretty well and we also talked about making vague plans to get together sometime before they left. Soon we headed our separate ways. I desperately needed to connect my laptop to the internet and they desperately needed to go be ‘Australian’ somewhere.
Getting on the internet is one thing in Cuba. Being functional on it is quite another. Dial-up is the best speed available. Wireless is practically a myth. Certain sites (such as the site that hosts my business email) are banned. Publishing a blog requires world class hacking skills. Not surprisingly, my cell phone doesn’t work here either (although Fido will work if you have it).
Same goes for plugging in your electronics. Cuba uses both North American and European style electrical outlets. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why one outlet style is used in one building, and another style is used in a different building. ‘Inconvenience’ is the only possible answer. When you’re forced to scramble around, spending time hunting for adapters or compatible plug-ins, you’re left with no time to think about the politics in this country. Add ‘getting on the internet’ coupled with, ‘finding wireless’, and the government effectively kills all dissenting voices in the Cuban blogosphere.
I took a taxi to the Melia Havana Hotel in West Havana, wrote another blog article and set about getting online. I heard that this hotel had wireless and the rumours turned out to be true! As expected, I couldn’t publish my blog, but I was able to cut and paste my articles onto Facebook. That’s something at least. Photos will have to wait until I’m back in Toronto because dial-up is too slow to upload a few MBs of content. Same goes for my blog. I’ll continue writing but I won’t be able to publish it until I land in Toronto.
My thoughts now turn to my mother. I believe the last thing I wrote read something like, ‘If you haven’t heard from me in 14 days, come looking.’ I guess I could send her an email, but mystery is better methinks. Maybe she’ll worry about me, imagining the worst case scenarios, and then she’d wish she fed me more free suppers before I left so I’d know just how much she cared.
I’m hoping this way I’ll be bombarded with steak suppers upon my return.