Even though I hated and was overwhelmed by all the tenses,
I’m so grateful I learned them and pleased when I can use the correct tense, at
least for both past tenses (although who knows if I got them correct) and for
the future! The subjunctive, I still struggle with but I have WEIRDO in my
For those of you who don’t know, WEIRDO is a nemanic aide to
help you remember when to use the subjunctive endings: Wish, Emotion,
Impersonal, Recommendation, Doubt, and Ojala!
Of course, once you figure out you should use the subjunctive “I wish I
could go to Pinares de Mayari” you have to figure out if it’s the present,
past, future subjunctive ending… that is a problem for me.
I still can’t think on the spot, but if I plan ahead – or if
the person I’m talking with isn’t trying to be so helpful – I can eventually
figure it out. Cubans, as with all other people around the world I’ve met in
non-english-speaking countries, are so helpful in both trying to figure out
what I’m trying to say, as well as teaching me the correct way of saying it.
So I was at the car rental place first thing (7:00am) again this
morning to try to get a car. Of course, he tells me if I would have returned
yesterday, he had the perfect car for me. I told him it was too late, but I
probably should have tried.
Now he tells me to return at 2:00 – but I will soon get a
bicycle and stop by there on my way up the mountain.
I am anxious to get to Holguin but I don’t want to waste 40
pesos on a taxi if I don’t have to. There are no public buses to Holguin, and
tourists are not allowed on the buses for Cubans, which I understand. How can
the bus driver quote one price for one person, and then another price for the
other person. Can you see tourists accepting this? Ha!
I think Cuba must be the only country not dominated by
western whites where the u.s. dollar is worth less than the dollar of that
country – although I haven’t been to Russia or China. Maybe people here will
not be tricked by the u.s. after all.
I speak with three young men at the marketplace, one who
speaks really good English and is an artist. His friend, a little more dark
skinned than he, idealizes the u.s. and wants to go. His mother already lives
in Houston for almost 2 years and she loves it.
This friend, Jesus, is dying to go. I had the buyer beware
conversation all of them, which the artist Oscar translates diligently for me
and patiently corrects for me. Oscar asks me about police killing Black people
in the u.s. and so I told him some of the statistics, including the prison
When I finish talking, Oscar turns abruptly to Jesus and
tells him he’s a dead man! Even though I would describe Jesus as brown, to
Oscar he’s Black and will be killed by the u.s. police! And then he turns to me
and Jesus does not want to hear anything bad about the u.s., he is one of the
young ones who doesn’t know – it is the young ones that are most susceptible to
u.s. propaganda – of course.
I don’t think that Oscar is so old himself but obviously he
considers himself much older than Jesus and much better informed. He’s almost
affectionate about the struggles of the youth to face capitalism. And he
appears resigned as well, but in a way that makes me think he believes young
people will outgrow their fascination with the u.s. as they grow.
He asks me if I know about the cia plot to infiltrate and
brainwash young people last year with cell phones. Oscar says the whole world
knows that the u.s. spies on people all over the world, and the rest of the
world is upset. I think about Snowden, send him a deep gratitude, and wonder
where he is now.
When we talk about his art – which I’m learning, as much of
the art is very similar – Oscar tells that they all paint whatever they’ve
discovered sells to the tourists, which are mostly old american cars and nude women
– of course.
The government does not allow anyone to paint anything
‘political’ or ‘pornographic’. When I ask for an example of ‘political’ because
I see lots of Che and Castro and revolutionary slogans, he said, for example,
an art teacher once painted Cubans on a row boat leaving Cuba and he was told
not to paint that. He also said they could not paint a u.s. flag for instance,
or any flag wrapped around a nude woman’s body. It seems, as in the u.s., it is
okay and popular to paint naked women but not men.
Even though most of the artists appear to be men and
certainly most of the vendors appear to be men, there are still quite a few
womyn represented both as artists and as vendors – I’d guess I see 1/3rd
female, but this is not a scientific observation.
Several vendors and artists have told me to let them know
what I want painted and they will do it. I wish I could think of something to
Today there is a lovely breeze, more cloud cover than direct
sun, but the ocean was chilly compared to the warm days. I will go try to ride
a bike up the hill or at least to the car rental place, just in case there’s a
car ready for me. But first I will call my contacts in Havana. I HAVE to go to