Letters from Cuba, pt 1

8/1/15

Dear Cam,

I’m in mother fucking Cuba.  I don’t really know what else to say.  It’s exactly like all the pictures that you see but it’s alive and has smells and tastes and sounds.

I was nervous this morning and didn’t really know how everything was going to go but it went as smooth as it possibly could.  I had to stand in line 4 different times at the airport in Cancún because there was a separate line to purchase visas, than the one for getting boarding passes. I bought my visa but messed up filling it out so I had to buy another one. I guess that La Habana is a real stickler for accuracy in paper work and you can’t cross anything out.  Anyway, 500 Mexican peso’s later, everything was sussed out and I went through the freaking security line and got on the freaking airplane and then flew to freaking Cuba, like a total badass.

I had a window seat and as I saw the island approach I realized that never in my life had I thought that I would go to Cuba. Repeating in my mind, were the words of people asking me what the first stop on my trip was going to be. My answer was always simply, “Cuba.” Then I would tell them that I was going to fly through Cancún, and draw an imaginary line through the air from Cancún to Cuba. Looking out the window, I realized that now I was on that imaginary line and that it was no longer imaginary. It was really happening. Isn’t that amazing?

After I landed I got hassled just a tiny bit going through immigration when I was asked what my profession was. When I told the man that I worked in the film business he was really concerned that I might have brought a film camera with me and I assured him that I didn’t. Then he said something that I didn’t understand and got frustrated and annoyed that I didn’t understand him and moved on to another person.

After I got my bag there was a driver waiting for me and he had a sign with my name on it. His name was Miguel and he was cheerful and drove me to the hostel where we waited outside and knocked on the door and finally Rodolfo appeared on the balcony and lowered down a key on a string for us to open the door.  We went inside  and Rodolfo made me an espresso and poured me a cold glass of water and the hostel is freaking beautiful old european style on the inside with colorful worn tiles on the floor and tall archways.  I’m staying in a dorm room again but it’s not as full as the one in Mexico and it seemed like the right thing to do.  It’s $12 a night and I’m trying to do this all on the cheap so I figured that I just have to suck it up.  Also the dorm room has AC which is a freaking godsend.  Saying that makes me feel so first world, but I guess there is a reason why we are accustomed to these modern things. They are pretty nice.

So then I decided to go out for a walk and I passed hundreds of mangos the size of my head.  No joke.  I went to a fruit market and there were lots of dudes there making kissy face noises at me so I left. Then a drunken man on the street tried to talk to me and told me that he looked just like Barak Obama, and actually he did look like him. A few blocks later I was accosted by another guy who thought I was french and started talking to me in french but pretty soon figured out that I wasn’t french so we started speaking English and Spanish and anyway we ended up walking around together for a long time. When I told him I was hungry he brought me to a friends house to get some rice and vegetables. While we were sitting there in her front room waiting for the food to arrive I asked him what his job was and he told me that he was a music teacher at a school. But then said that he was a musician and I asked if he played the guitar and he said yes and that he also played percussion and sang and then he goes “Well, actually I rap. I’m a rapper. Rap is my life.” Then he whipped out some headphones and his phone and started to play me one of his tracks that he recorded with 2 guys from Vancouver BC and, you know what? It was fucking good.

And that is how I met a cuban rapper named Lienko la Francia.  He is going to be recording two new tracks tomorrow and he invited me to come to the studio and take pictures so that when I go home to America I can show all my friends and he will get famous.  I’m supposed to meet him at the park which is practically the only place in the whole city where wifi is available and then we will go to the studio. This is another one of those situations where I’m not sure if I’m getting myself in trouble, but my instincts say that I can trust him so I’m going to go. Weird? Yeah kind of. But anyway, I guess welcome to Cuba and Hello World. It always amazes me that you never know what is going to happen next in life.

I wish you could have been there with me listening to the music in headphones and eating cuban food in some random ladies house. That would have been right up your alley.

xoxo

your eliza

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