• Day 2 Diary

    by  • September 22, 2011 • Excerpts & Travel Diary • 0 Comments

    Note: I wrote Rum Socialism from the notes of a travel diary I kept while in Cuba. Here is a ver batim excerpts of that diary that doesn’t give away too much of the book itself.


    I’ve had John Cougar Mellencamp in my head ever since seeing that Cuban rock music video on the plane. Hurts so good…


    Walked the beach after breakfast. I saw crabs and vultures, and collected some shells and rocks for my son. Somehow I spent 50 CUCs yesterday. 4 on beer at the airport, 2 more at the rest-stop, tipped 3 at dinner, 5 more at the bar twice, and 24 for the safe key and deposit. I guess it all ads up. The Brit named Paul warned me that over-tipping might seem arrogant. Not even 24 hours and I’m bored shitless.


    El cisne...

    When I got back to my room, the maid had rearranged the towel into a swan on my bed. She put my army cap on it.


    There seems to be a lot of white men with Cuban girls and children here. The guy I met at the airport told me you can bring a girl onto the resort for 15 CUCs a day, and that he keeps one here. I can kind of see the appeal: you can make beautiful, half-breed babies and not have to take care of them. They can’t leave the country very easily, and you only have play sugar daddy when you visit. It’s the perfect kind of fatherhood: you sit somewhere between God and Santa Claus, and don’t have to put up with all the daily banalities of parenting. G*d help their wretched souls when Fidel and Raoul lose their grip over this island and the borders open to trade and immigration. A lot of hearts are going to break. Either daddy won’t be able to keep it up under a free market and the mounting costs will knock daddy down to the level of a mere mortal, or he’ll just decide to kick a habit that he can’t afford anymore. Any way you look at it, a lot of tears are going to fall.

    It can’t work, this having two systems. One of them has got to go. It’s just too bad that the price we pay for freedom is slavery to our own greed and lust.


    I think I’m beginning to understand why the US still hasn’t forgiven Cuba for the Revolution and the Missile Crisis: the country is a nagging reminder that Uncle Sam’s is no more in control of things than any other schoolyard bully. This island nation, right in Uncle Sam’s backyard, pushed him out at the height of his Imperialist rampage, and has held out against him for half a century and counting. This island is proof that Uncle Sam isn’t the mad dog boss man he makes himself out to be. And despite everything that the US embargo has cost these people, they’re probably no more unhappy than the rest of us greedy, god-fearing consumers. No wonder no one’s ever really gone out on a limb for this country: it’s hard to stand up for someone who makes you feel so inadequate.


    From what I can tell (so far), these people still have more faith in Fidel than most Americans do in any one of their Presidents in the twilight of their last term. I mean, sure: from cradle to grave, Cubans are inculcated with misinformation and propaganda, but so are the rest of us, and where one President after another can’t make it stick for more than maybe 4-6 years, Fidel has managed to tow the line for more half a century – and that’s something that’s got to eat at Uncle Sam ego maybe more than his failure to subjugate these people with greed and defeat their Prince.

    Fidel has been a faith healer to these people: he never really cured what ails them, but he made it easier to live with. And there’s nothing more threatening to hegemony than an alternative idea that only needs a bit of faith for it to work. And this alternative is that there’s something out there bigger than any insatiable appetite for more creature comforts and excess distractions. History is a strange tale of people disagreeing over what that something is, but there’s no doubting the pull it can have over a people for generations. They’ll resist nothing except the pull of the outside world.


    Kris Romaniuk is the author of the satirical travel memoir, Rum Socialism, and rummy behind this blog. He is an independent author based out of Montreal, Canada, and is currently working on his second book.


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