Note 3: Where I make fun of Andrea and say few things happened in Cuba

 July 26, 2018 – Flying to LA


I didn’t release Victor.

As you might have guessed Andrea is reading and commenting these notes, mostly to reduce the impact that dyslexia has on my spelling. After he read the last one, he agreed that Victor is having a very much very shitty life. He compared being in that cage with sitting on a plane, when you can’t really move but just stretch a bit and you feel more and more ankylosed.

Also his very first reaction, before ending his reading, was telling me, in Italian “Fuck no! Don’t free it!”.

Andre is a very pragmatic person, or at least he is compared to me. I don’t know why he had that first reaction but after finishing reading he told me: “I’m absolutely sure Victor would not survive if you set him free. It doesn’t know how to find himself food outside the cage, most probably it can’t properly fly. I think it would be dead even before realizing it needs to look for food”.

Of course I decided to believe him. It sounded convincing enough and gave me a very good justification not to do anything for the bird. Justification that, if you remember, I was struggling to find last time. Also I found the idea that Victor depends on the cage very symbolic. Which gave me an opportunity to ponder a bit more on the matter while keep avoiding any actual course of action.

I’m not going to bother you with Victor’s addiction to the cage, although I can ensure the overthinking was amazing. Rather I feel like mentioning a few more actual facts this time and focus less on myself.

I will start by complaining a bit about how I feel.

This morning I woke up around 6:30am ’cause a dream with my mum telling me I’m a monster and me not managing to tell her goodbye before leaving. I did fall back asleep but it was not very resting. Andrea was occupying most of the bed and me I was still agitated. I prefer dreaming of Leïla.

I am still a bit dazed and agitated, something which might break my english even more than normal. I apologize for that (again).

There was also another side of my tumultuous morning: I had a chance to realize that around 7am, half an hour before the alarm ringed, Andre was awake as well. He waited restless until 7:30am and jumped down the bed to start packing his stuff.

Flying makes him a bit anxious. In the last two days he mentioned making the check-in at least 5 times to say he wanted to do it by 4pm of the 25$^{th}$ so to have some time, in case of problems. When we were still in Milan he asked Leïla to make her bag on the floor rather than doing it on the sofa. This because he wanted to prepare the sofa for our departure (15h before the actual departure). Yesterday night around 2am and quite drunk he suggested making our bags before sleeping so to have everything ready in the morning. I could continue.

If you’re anxious person yourself, or at least anxious with respect to flights, you probably find this perfectly normal and me pretty unreasonable in calling it anxiety. I’m not going to discuss semantics here, if you don’t want to call that anxiety call it as you please. As a matter of fact, it is an anomalous behavior for Andrea.

He likes to think of himself as a very robotic and precise person and he’s not so robotic and precise. For instance, when we went camping in Budapest (Sziget festival, you should go there) he said more than once he’s quite germophobic. I can ensure a germophobic person couldn’t have slept where we slept nor ate what we ate nor showered where we showered.

Sziget

Sziget 2014 – Heavy pondering over breakfast

It is true he likes to organize things. A bit like my dad he sincerely enjoys making plans, drawing routes on the map, checking the prices of hotels and this kind of stuff. Still, he’s not an almost autistic person, even though he likes giving that impression of himself.

The other day we went to Plaça de la Revolution (which by the way looks like a parking) and from there to 23 and Passeo where you can find some bars. Andrea was handling all the money, in virtue of a common agreement. This because (a) he was the only one withdrawing in Cuba anyway, (b) he likes feeling the man in charge and the organizer and (c) I love giving a careless don’t-feel-like-handling-money image of myself.

When we arrived at 23 and Passeo he told me we only had 6CUC left. Now: 6CUC are not enough, for two tourists, to get back home late night from there. So I made fun of him for not thinking of this and we entered a bar, after all the money weren’t enough anyway. We drank quite a few beers before the issue popped up again in our minds.

So we looked for an ATM for a while but all those that we found were offline. We stopped a shared taxi and proposed him a deal. We would have given him 10CUC to bring us to the nearest working ATM and then home. At some hour at night in Cuba they switch all ATMs off to avoid people robbing tourists.

Andrea ATM Offline

ATM Outage

The poor dude travelled for a good half an hour before giving up. We went to areas where a pizza is a quarter of a CUC and a lot of people are around the street doing stuff late at night. Eventually he brought us home where we had our last 5CUC, that we gave him, and he left.

Perhaps Andre is really a over organized almost autistic person as he’d like you to think but personally I doubt it. If you have the same impression as I do then perhaps you see how I regard his before-flights attitude as anxiety. It’s not Leïla’s anxiety making her panic and cry and yell and grumble and yell again. It is neither my kind of paralyzing anxiety I deal with via vodka. He just needs everything to be settled and under control.

To be fair, I and Leïla are also dealing with the illusion of control in our crisis but in a different manner. Andrea, more reasonably than us, tends to have control obsessions on practical stuff he’s actually able to control. Or at least that are a bit easier to feel under control, even if they are not, control is an illusion.
Deep down he knows those are moments of anxiety but doesn’t want to admit it. Therefore I make him notice and I make fun of him.

He hates that.

Yesterday we almost argued on the “Making the check-in by 4pm” topic. He said again he wanted to do it early while we were doing some groceries (mango and cola). I told him he was anxious and we discussed. Eventually I reminded him of the check-in at 00:30am drinking cuba libre in the swimming pool. He said just “ok we gotta do it NOW”.

We did it around 2am.

I think he’s going to be very mad when reading this but now we’re on the plane so it’s going to be a relaxed madness. I had anticipated him I would have spoke of him in this note (also in the swimming pool, also drinking cuba libre) but I expected to say some stuff on his attitude towards dating women rather than this.

Inspiration is strange, perhaps later I’ll say something on how he justifies himself for not looking for a woman. Right now I don’t feel like that. I’m still a bit dazed and agitated, my kind of anxieties don’t fade away when the plane takes off.

When I was younger, I used to consider fighting windmills like I do something to be proud of. Now my feelings are a bit more contrasting on the matter. Sometimes I’d like to worry a bit less about the cage and just deal with practical present matters.

Some other days I’m very happy about not being a particularly pragmatic person. Taking things carelessly can be amazing. In those days I make fun of Andrea’s anxieties with a non tragicomic joy. Even though I know, since I met Leïla, that I’m not really careless anymore. And also that some weak parts of me regrets it. I don’t feel like betting everything anymore and perhaps my possibilities of eating the world will diminish because of that.

On the topics of carelessness and eating the world I shall come back in some next notes, together with my love for Leïla and some stories about her as well. This one is supposed to be on facts.

A fact is that I love Cuban stuff. I love vegetables that you have to buy in great quantity because you never know if there’s going to be some in the shops for the next months. I love cigars that you can get for very little if you know someone like Randal who’s got a dude in the factory. I love rum that you must drink or hide because otherwise Letitia drinks it while you’re out. And I love Cuban people, mostly I love Cuban people I would say, at least the ones I met.

Cubans say they live in the cage. Mario calls cuba libre “Mentirita” (i.e. little lie). They don’t feel free, or at least they say they don’t. Some of them run away and some come back thereafter. Letitia has been in Italy quite a while. She had few husbands and quite good connections in Berlusconi’s family. During those years she bought the house we have been to. I think their only income merely derives on possessing it (i.e. renting rooms). Now she is back to a quiet and boring life in Havana.

I asked why she’s back and she said she has to take care of her parents and repeated that it is boring there. She is a very care-taking person and roots seem to mean a lot to her. While we were there she insisted on us buying fish. This because the previous day we ate only fruits and she thinks young people should eat more than that. She cooked for us most of the days and made us coffee in the morning. She made Randal give us his phone so to be able to contact her while outside and it has her insisting on us going around with Mario at the beginning, for safety. She used to call to be sure we were safe.

When we left this morning she said “come back soon, aunty will wait for you!”. I think she meant it. Perhaps I completely misunderstood her and she was just tricking us to come back again but my impression was that she was sincere. Somehow I felt that it is part of her program to take care of the people around her and I take it to be the main reason why she’s back. Because family and roots are important to her and she wouldn’t ever go away and never come back.

Other Cubans do not come back. Or at least they are not back yet. Randal’s brother went to Argentina. He lived there for quite a while and then moved to Mexico. From there he passed the frontier with USA by car and now lives in Miami where he runs a cleaning company who’s workers are him and his wife.

Other Cubans never leave. I didn’t really get Randal’s past before marrying Letitia, only that he worked as an embassy guard, but I don’t think he ever travelled long terms. Randal is a happy person, I think, perhaps that’s why he didn’t get much space in this notes, there’s little to say about happy people. I had the impression he focuses on practical matters most of the time and doesn’t bother pondering over existential questions. His practical balance seems quite positive and that’s enough for happy people like him.

Another one that never left but isn’t happy is Cuba. He remains there, stuck in a loop like most little cocaine-addicted criminals all over the globe.

I can’t lie: in the beginning I was not feeling confident walking around in there. I felt I was looking different from anyone else and quite a few streets we passed didn’t feel safe at all. The weird thing is that that feeling completely passed in three days at most. Already on the 23$^{rd}$ we felt completely fine taking a shared taxi and walking around half drunk in places that two days before would have been quite scary.

Perhaps it would have been like that everywhere but I somehow felt something special about Havana in giving me such a huge contrasting feeling in such little time. And I thank the Cubans I met for this and I loved them very much for that.

They look in the cage. Some tilt their neck to emphasize how this is driving them crazy. Some drink half my rum overnight and spend all their time taking care of people. Some seem to be just quite happy and focused on empirical matters.

Even though they live in an environment which is completely different from mine, to the extend that they can spot me as a tourist 100m away, I found my worlds represented here, just with different masks. They made me feel safe and home in a couple of days and I started going around with no though of being in any danger. I was sincere saying to “aunty” I’d like to come back visiting her.

Most of them remind me of actual people I know. Cuba is pretty similar, even esthetically, to another cocaine addict I know. Randal is a happy, practical person pretty much as my dad is. And I feel him happy in the cage pretty much like I feel my dad happy in the cage. Letitia is a more complicated one because I don’t know any caretaking, rooted person who’s also an alcoholic. Also she’s got no cancer whereas my granny and Andre’s mum, the most taking care people I’ve met, had cancer. My mum would probably draw a causal relation between over taking care and cancer and then a family resemblance between cancer and alcoholism. When I’m drunk I often feel she’s right in drawing this dubious relations, when I’m sober I’m more skeptical.

Regardless of this also Letitia, although less closely, made me feel home, and willing to run away and never come back, as I always feel. But I said I wouldn’t have done overthinking this time. Didn’t I?

Another fact is that in Havana I did not like Havana itself, although I loved stuff in it I’ve been in touch with. Right after arriving we entered a chill and lazy mood. We went around in the city on daytime only twice and left home mostly at night because of the sun that beats you like hell.

In very little we had the impression there was little to do and nowhere fun to go. We spent quite a lot of time in the garden, either chilling in the swimming pool or working. The club we went to was pretty much a regular club and even google didn’t have any suggested place to go and see we didn’t went to and saw (except Cañonazo, that really sounded too boring).

I am not going to list all the places we went to and things we saw. Both because I don’t remember all of them and because I’m sure you would know some we didn’t go to and that are amazing. I can tell about the overall impression which is: Letitia is right, Cuba is boring.

Havana’s vibes were making me lazy and contemplative rather than suggesting that at every corner there would have been something amazing to find. Perhaps you can have a very good time if you’re in a very enthusiastic mood but that’s true everywhere. Perhaps some people find Cuba a place bringing them in a very enthusiastic mood and therefore find it amazing. We don’t tend to get very enthusiast in general. In fairness we are quite boring people, so of course we tend to have quite boring experiences.

It seems like this is it regarding Cuba. I have a few other notes but I feel like you wouldn’t give a fuck about the stuff listed there. I’d also have many other things to say about similarities and differences between cubans and people of my life. Also I’d have quite a few more thoughts and stories about other people but I guess there is no rush for telling them to you. Next note I will write in the USA.

PS: Today Andre is alive as a brick. He’s annoyingly opinionless.

Cuba Photo Gallery

Cuba Photo Gallery