I sleep in till almost 7a.m., dress in my running shorts and
t-shirt, and head out to jog along the beach. I’m happy to see the tide is out
and the sand closest to the water is hard packed making it easy to run. It is
warm already, humid, but not unbearable.
I run the entire length of the beach – four times – which is not that
far really but beautiful the entire way and with very little trash, I’m pleased
As I move away from the hotel’s beach front, the garbage
increases but nothing like I’ve seen in other countries. I pick up plastic cups
that I’m sure come from the hotel, straws, and a few beer cans. A young
adolescent boy says hello to me and then I think he asks me if he can be my
companion. Internally shaking my head, I greet him warmly and run on. When I
return, he is there with 3 younger girls who tell me they are 9, 10, and 11. I
totally ignore him although he is trying to intrude in our conversation. I’m
speaking Spanish! And being understood!
I retrace my route again to the other side of the beach
& decide I’ve run for 25 minutes so I leave the beach and explore the stone
path I see heading up the little cliff. It ends abruptly as it descends into a
little inland of a dark bracken smelly body of salt water so I turn around and
head back to the beach and back for breakfast.
Again the buffet is plentiful, simple and healthy – not at
all what I expected from hotel food. I fill a plate with fruit and then another
plate with scrambled eggs, egg plant and yams. The fruit is heavenly and the
veggies and eggs are yummy.
I decide to ask to change my room to somewhere more quiet
and less smoky. The womon at the desk nods knowingly and tells me to come back
at 11. She moves me to the second floor and almost the farthest room from the
bar. I like the mattresses better even though they are smaller (there’s 2 beds
in this room also with matching bedspreads and curtains), the desk is solid
wood but the dresser/closet is pressed wood and warped but holds my clothes
I’m hoping to hop a bike – it’s included in this
all-inclusive tourista package I got – and ride into the city of Holguin. The
bike folks, who have their identical 1 speed dark blue bikes with wide tires
lined up under a couple trees outside the hotel entrance, are horrified to
think I would ride to Holguin. The Spanish they speak is way too fast for me to
get but I understand peligrosa (dangerous) and imposible (impossible…) as their
voices get higher pitched and loud.
I see another biker head past, acknowledged with a nod and
wave, and I chase after him to ask questions re:biking. He is from Montreal and
speaks mostly French so we switch to English as my Spanish is not fluent, and
neither is his, but his English is better.
He tells me Holguin truly is too far – 48 kilometers which
is over 60 miles – and lots of hills. He tells me where he came from – to the
east – but claims there are too many hills for the one speed bikes they have.
Somehow we begin talking politics (and religion….) – maybe
he’s asked me who I will vote for – and he tells me he’s written an article
about the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. He is probably my age and speaks of
playing soccer in Montreal in the 1970’s with a couple of Jewish fellows and
guys from Morocco and North Africa. It is at this point in time that he becomes
interested in what is happening there.
I ask him if these Jewish players were children of survivors
of the Holocaust. At first he declares no way, they were too young. I tell him
I bet they were, as I am and we’re the same age. He is startled to realize this
– of course the players themselves would not have said a peep, as I never said
a peep. I tell him how growing up, I was told Israel was the only country where
Jews could go and not face discrimination.
He attempted to claim that there was no discrimination
against Jews outside of Germany and I had to laugh – and educate him. He told
me that his city of Montreal agreed to take 1000 Jewish refugees during the war,
as long as they were peaceful. Hmmmm
I was to meet yet another ‘foreigner’ later this evening, a
white strate communist and socialist couple from English, who told another
story about refugees into England, also during the 70’s (or was it 60’s?) when
England told Pinoche he cannot keep murdering revolutionaries. Pinoche
responded by saying he would not allow those people to remain in his country
and so England ended up taking 1000 Chilean communists. He said the socialist
party took them in, found them homes, signed them up for the party and on their
backbone, the party became truly revolutionary.
But my most precious story today is called Josefina!