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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Nite 9 Eric

Geez, mr. racist pig can’t get enough of me. I’m sitting quietly by myself at a table in the back where I usually sit away from the bustling crowd and as I’m lifting delicious boiled yams into my mouth, he stops at my table and makes some kind of comment about how long I’ve been here for.
I tell him I’m eating and have not desire to talk with him (I want to say to he makes me sick but I don’t) and I ask him to leave me alone.
This, apparently to him, is being uncivil because he protests that we might not agree but we can be civil to each other. He goes on to call me a girl – strike 1 for tonite – telling me he’s told his friends about this girl and her t-shirt and they offered to come put me straight. If only he knew…
I told him he’s a racist and I have no intention to be ‘civil’ to racists. He insists again he’s not a racist and I reiterate what he said to me.
Oh the things he said then, including it was Blacks who sold Africans into slavery and the Chinese are now enslaving more people in Africa than ever and he’s so informed and, “so much more than you ‘darling’” – strike 2 and he’s out – whites need to get restitution from Romans if I think Blacks need coddling by whites.
I told him fuck you several times as his already burnt face and bald head got redder and redder. It was such a slow burn and he had started out so sweetly condescending, I almost missed how angry he was getting and how his cadence was now laced with barefaced fury.
I told him he’s not only a racist but a misogynist pig and to leave me the fuck alone – which he did only because his girlfriend appeared to haul him off.
The waitress hurried over and asked me if I was okay. I just told her he was a bad man and she said she agreed. Apparently he’s been there many times.
But later when I left the cafeteria, another white man, Eric, approached me in the lobby and told me how happy he was to see my Black Womyn’s Lives Matter t-shirt. We talked for awhile in English and I found out he participated in BLM in Ohio, where he’s from & that he’s part of the crew that is filming some of the solar conference.
But the BEST thing is the film they are making is a follow-up to “The Power of Community” which I saw years ago at La Pena. It is the story of how Cuba survived the fall of the Soviet Union and transitioned from a country that depended on oil and pesticides while growing crops to sell to the world, to a country that became at least 80% organic and stopped growing sugar cane, etc., to export and instead began growing food to feed the people.
The filmmaker is HERE NOW! I’m so excited! And this film she’s making now will be a follow-up about where Cuba is at now, before the u.s. tourist invasion.
Before we part, Eric tells me to NEVER stop wearing my shirt – I assure him of course, I will NEVER stop wearing my shirt!

Afternoon 9: Pinares de Mayari here I come!

 The first thing I need to do this morning after breakfast  is see the medical person about my big toe – the toenail of the next toe is rubbing against it and I forgot to bring bandaids or nail clippers! There is a medical office right here in the hotel on the 2nd floor, the same floor I stay on.
I knock on the door and enter a freezing cold little room. I feel like I’m back in grade school, going to the nurse: she is a smiling, competent, calm petite 40-ish year old womon dressed in a white uniform complete with white stockings and white shoes! She wears nothing on her head, thank goodness, cause although the room is freezing, the journey here must be excruciatingly hot – unless she dresses once she gets here.
She does wear a little costume jewelry pin that looks like a gold leaf with green rhinestones jauntily perched just below her left shoulder. There is a small desk facing the door and behind her on one side of the room is a bed covered in white sheets with the same pleated white fabric rectangular screen on wheels offering a small degree of privacy I remember from grade school, then there is a glass-doored cabinet with medicines along the back wall, and a shelf on the wall opposite the bed that has bandages, scissors, ointments and the like. There’s a small modern-looking digital white scale and a blood pressure kit with stethoscope looped over the back of her stainless steel rolling stool.
 I show her my foot and she has me climb up on an old small, green metal stepstool I envy, and sit on the sterile bed. She has no small bandaids so she tapes my large toe instead. She attempts to cut my nail with the scissors there but they don’t work. She tells me to return the next day & she will bring clippers from her home.
I leave and head to the market to pick the brains of a couple of vendors about getting to Pinares de Mayari.
I’m sooooooo excited! I see a silver blue relatively new-looking jeep that has a “taxi” sign in the window parked right outside the market while I’m sitting down talking with Manuel. I jump up and point it out to him & head over. Another taxi pulls in, this one an old 50’s u.s. car. Manuel thinks I’m talking about that taxi so goes to talk with him, while I approach the jeep.
 The taxi driver agrees to drive me to Pinares de Mayari 7:00am tomorrow for $100 – for the entire jeep. The cheapest I’ve found thus far has been $96/person… this one is 100 for the entire jeep so if I find 3 more people to share the jeep, it will be $25 each or if I find 4 people, $20 each!
Muy barato! Very cheap!
I think it should be easy, after all this is a hotel full of maybe 6 or 7 hundred tourists many in Cuba for the first time, just like me. I go around to people sitting at tables, hanging out on the beach, eating in the restaurant and realize the men look extremely fat and the womyn are in appallingly high heels with the most elaborately painted fingernails and extreme makeup.
I don’t want to have to rush back from exploring Pinares because people don’t want to or can’t hike, so I realize I must look for those that at least appear to be robust or physically fit.
Unfortunately, not many do. After talking with several people, I realize most people are content to merely hang out in the hotel, drink themselves silly, or burn on the beach. Not many are into exploring different parts of Cuba.
Even the people I went with to Holguin were people who lived there or were on their way to other parts of Cuba.
One strate couple I talked with thought that 80 kilometers was so very far away. Of course, they came from across the Atlantic. Another person said she didn’t want to sit in a car for an hour – even if it meant seeing Cuba.
Two younger guys I asked, who looked very fit, told me they go to bed at 6a.m. I suggested they stay up and then sleep in the jeep before they go hiking. They were too polite to say hell no, but told me they’d let me know in the morning.
I made a sign on the cardboard back of my notebook in Spanish and English that says: Do you want to go to Pinares de Mayari? For cheap? Talk to me! I was too shy to walk around the beach showing people my sign but I did put it next to me when I ate, on the table in the computer room, and at the bar while I wrote.
No takers….grrrrr…..yet!
So now I have to figure out a plan b of how to get $100 pesos together for tomorrow a.m. I should have bargained with him but I was so happy to get such a low price, and I didn’t think it would be hard to find people to share with jeep with. Then I guess people here don’t care what they pay to go anywhere and would rather have a tour guide then strike out on their own.
It will be better to go by myself anyway – I might get stuck in the car with asshole tourists or folks that want to helplessly stick with me. I just want to hike up to the top of the waterfall and go to the museum there. I’m hoping to stop at Banes also, the next large town east of here.
Well, I can go to the bank to cash my last 100 canadian, which is not enough money but I’m banking on someone, anyone, coming along.
If not, I’ll have to figure something else out – maybe I just can’t go, although that would make me so very sad!

Day 9 Real friends

It’s somewhat entertaining to be abrupt with rich loathsome racist white men here. The man who previously challenged my shirt attempted to engage me in another conversation today. Fortunately I was getting ready to talk on the phone – which costs $1.20 per minute here – when he approached me and began yammering at me as if I have nothing to do but listen to him.
He audaciously insists on talking to me again, even though I say no and more politely than I feel, motion to the phone. He demands to know if today I can have a conversation without getting mad. I tell him he’s a racist and there is nothing left to say to him. He tells me he’s not a racist but he is racially aware. As the phone begins to ring, I tell him no shit, his ‘awareness’ (in finger quotes) is obvious and makes him a racist.
He is not hanging around to talk with me after I finish my phone call. No tears shed over that one – and no more dilemma for me, as I’ve a commitment to confronting bigotry. What common ground is there to continue a dialogue when he believes 1) there are lots of Black people who are criminals in the u.s.; and understood in that is 2) these Black people criminals deserve to be murdered by the police.
And his belief that the millions if not hundreds of millions of people who were murdered in the pursuit and continuation of slavery has been somehow beneficial for Black people who at least did not starve in Africa – as if, as if, as if, so many as ifs, one being as if Africans were starving before being colonized, gentrified, raped, tortured, and enslaved.
I just want to drum into him I know he’s a racist, a skinhead – whatever they call those people in England – that his bigotry is not hidden, and obviously, he seems to be sensitive to my awareness.
Later, another also 40 something year old white man who has discovered I speak English, thinks we have something in common. He strikes up a conversation because he has on tiva sandals and I have on keens. He claims he’s going to give away his sandals. I tell him great and I will give away my sandals too before I leave Cuba.
He asks me if I’ve made friends here and I say not really at the hotel, but yes, I motion outside the hotel and talk about the little village on the hill west of here. I offer to bring his sandals there before I leave.
He tells me that even though the sandals are too big for him, he’s now decided he’s going to keep them and did I know they’re worth $60 in Canada, and they are comfortable and really, after all, sandals in Cuba are cheap ($20 CUCS that most Cubans make as a whole month’s salary….grrrrr) and plentiful: understood in that sentiment is that his sandals are too good for Cubans.
I let him know mine are worth $80-$100 (although I only paid $10, but he doesn’t need to know that) and I’ve promised them to my friend from the village.
I ask him if he is going to spend $60 on sandals here and give them to his Cuban friends. He shakes his head, bewildered, and falters a little before morosely confiding in me that some friends in Cuba are not good friends as he declares surely I’ve found out this truth also.
I tell him I don’t know what he is talking about. He is very uncomfortable trying to explain to me how he’s been coming here 12 years and now, this year, his friends of so long are pushing him. To do what, I ask. Just pushing him – he won’t elaborate.
I say pushing you to share your resources? He looks confused as he says, “you know, gifts, they push me for gifts. Real friends don’t push you for gifts.”
I nod in what I hope is an interesting way and not affirming, to tell him there will probably be a lot more pushing as inequity in inevitable in Cuba as privatizing businesses grow – let alone the greed of the u.s., Canada, and Europe. He asks with what appears to be genuine astonishment “there’s inequity in Cuba”?
Has he not seen the skinniest, short white haired, ancient man with gnarled hands, no teeth and the same dark brown shirt and trousers worn thin in more places then where threads are holding the fabric together, day after day asking with such graciousness and humility for pesos, food, regales, anything.
Or the crunched-over old womon as thin as her old wooden crutches whose feet are encased in rags, hands outstretched, eyes imploring, repeating only “por favor, por favor, por favor”.
He then says, oh it’s the u.s. embargo that has made inequity grow in Cuba. I can’t help but say and men like you exploiting the “cheapness” of Cuba for 12 years. His response is to jam his dark designer sunglass onto his face and scurry off.
I call after him “real friends don’t need to be pushed to share their abundance”.
Oh would I love to help him share those tivas.