6th of January 2014
Playa Girón, Bahia de Cochinos (bay of pigs)
After few hours in Playa Girón, mainly to visit the museum, I said goodbye to Miriam, my German travel companion, as we were going in different directions now. I realized that it won’t be easy to get to Cienfuegos with local transport and I have to wait for the touristic Viazul buses.
To kill the time while waiting, I went to a bar to drink and eat something and a man in his late forties started talking to me, pointing to a couple of blond tourists standing next to me, I couldn’t understand his slang but I got what he meant from his gestures that were pretty universal. He took it to himself to start teaching me Cuban Spanish, or mainly, how to describe and talk about women in Cuban Spanish. I doubt there is any language/culture in the world that has as many ways to flirt with women or describe them. I listened carefully to my teacher’s light humorous lesson, we laughed and I invited him for a beer, a second one, a third one … we had plenty of time to kill. Miguel is a doctor but he works as a taxi driver as well to earn extra cash, he has a triplet of girls, 20 years old who are just graduating university. We started talking about all kind of things, avoiding politics, I found out that the most genuine people I met are the one who avoid politics. He didn’t need to talk politics though, a doctor having to work on a taxi to provide for his family, says enough and shows you the other side of the socialist dream. Although I admit I admire many aspects of socialist Cuba, I am also aware that it is far from perfect in many others, quiet often, it feels like it achieves equality by bringing many people down instead of raising everyone up.
While waiting with Miguel, another of his friends came, his name is Nasser. Once I said I am from Sudan, he greeted me in Arabic. Nasser is an Algerian, who came to Cuba in the eighties and fell in love with the island and a woman, and never went back ever since. Another one of the surreal stories that Cuba randomly throws at your face.
Anyhow, Miguel, Nasser and me were laughing and talking like good old friends already. I told Miguel that instead of paying 10 CUC to Viazul, I’d rather pay the same to him and hire his taxi. So I set on a mission to find other tourists to share the taxi. I found a Russian couple who also wanted to go to my same destination (Cienfuegos) and they accepted to share a ride instead of waiting for the bus. I shared one last drink with Miguel and Nasser and then got on the taxi. The Russians were worried about Miguel driving the taxi with a beer in his hand, I lied to them and said it was his first drink.
On the taxi, we continued the filthy Spanish lessons. We talked about his girls and his life. His tenure in Venezuela as a doctor which seems to be the best option Cuban doctors have to get out of poverty. I asked the Russian tourists about their jobs and it turned out they were doctors as well. They didn’t speak much Spanish so Miguel told me to ask them whether they also need to work on a taxi in their home country. I asked them and they didn’t answer. We all knew there was no need for an answer.