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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels across country in my mobile billboard truck as I attempt to engage in dialogue with people in hopes to wake us up and inspire action to change our country and communities and selves. And it is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society and life we want

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day 5 Holguin

I only had two hours to explore Holguin today – I didn’t know until I was on the van that they would stay in Holguin for only two hours. The van had been waiting outside the hotel door when I approached the front desk to find out into re:going to Holguin. I rushed onto the waiting van, happy to know I can get there and back for $15.

After taking off, at first, the van stopped at about 5 or 6 other hotels ‘along the way’ – the slow boat to Holguin – trying unsuccessfully to pick up more tourists. As it was, there were two other womyn and two other men already on the van, all from Holland.

The two womyn turned out to be lesbians, a couple! So I came out for the second time! It was delightful. They had been worried about being out in Cuba but haven’t had any trouble. I told them about Pride next week – actually it’s a stand against homophobia apparently and it will be on the 17th.

Holguin is actually a huge city, about 350,000 people – and an extremely clean city from the little parts I saw of it. We drove by the university where our tour guide said he studied accounting, but accounting was so boring to him, he loves this job showing tourists around not to mention he makes so much more money, as he rubs his big beer belly.

We all go our separate ways, once we’ve memorized the ‘meet-up’ place: I head down a city street and the first thing I come across is a café where it appears there’s a meeting taking place. I ask if I can listen and I’m told sure. The café walls are only mostly waist high, at least the 2 sides that are bordered by the street corner. There’s a shelf on to top edge of the wall and then open space so I could lean in and listen without being too intrusive.

I couldn’t understand much all the chairs placed in rows facing the front were all filled. Men outnumbered womyn 2 to 1 at least with all ages and all skin hues asking questions and listening intently.

In the front of the room, in the corner was a huge Cuban flag and three men sitting alongside it and behind a table. One was a deep dark chocolate, the middle guy was a polished walnut, and the last guy a cappuccino brown – I wonder if it was intentionally designed that way. They all talked way to fast and intensely for me to follow. But I did hear words like “cuidado”, “peligroso”, and “estados undios” and not necessarily together or in that order.

I keep walking. The next thing I see is another university. I spoke with the womon there who told me students study free anything they want, culture, history, medicine. When I asked her about womyn growing organic on a collective, she didn’t know. But she did know about next week’s stand against homophobia – she’s the one who clarified the purpose of the gathering on Tuesday. I a sked her if there was a lot of homophobia in Holguin and she said not any more. Another man who had come to help agreed with her and said one of Raul’s daughters has been working hard to end homophobia in Cuba.

After the university, I kept walking away from the town square – the streets seem to be mostly one way and not very much traffic with again, horses and carts sharing space with bicyclists, motorcyclists, and cars: vintage u.s. and newer german, Korean, and Japanese.

I am struck by how clean the streets are. The buildings themselves remind me of Mexico with their iron trims, bright colors, low heights. I try to peer in to see if I can see a square but can’t see any.

Some folks are playing dominoes, some reading newspapers, others crowded around a color tv watching soccer. Many people have made the front window or doorway space into a small tienda, sometimes selling only 20 items on a tray or other times having maybe 6 pieces of clothing hanging on the wall.

I also see lots of signs “Room for rent” and even one sign that I think is for a hostel. I had to leave in such a rush to catch the only bus going to Holguin today that I forgot my water so I’m forced to buy a plastic bottle. It is inside the photo shop, which took me three tries to find even though everyone pointed in that direction and said ‘on the corner’. 

I’m also looking for an outdoor market where I’ve been told many of the vendors selling veggies and fruit are womyn who bring the produce from their gardens. I don’t find the marketplace but I do find a kind of indoor market place comprised of many vendors selling different touristy things.
I find a young man selling paintings he claims his grandmother has done. I buy two little water colors and a larger woodblock print. Amazing really – soooooooo many fabulous artists in Cuba! And on hand-made paper. Such talent.

I make it back to the van just on time and we head back to Guardalavaca. This time we stop at one of the many roadside produce stands and I buy a delicious big mango – not that I need any food but I couldn’t resist.


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