Cuba’s connections-culture

It is hot. and stuffy. SO hot. The air condition is not working. I am at the Viazul bus station in Baracoa, waiting for my bus to Santiago. Just as the girl told me, I came earlier and talked to her. Because apparently, there is no more seat available in the connection from Santiago to Havana. But, she told me not to worry. She wrote on a little piece of paper, folded it and wrote a name on it and closed it with tape. She told me to give this message to the person in Santiago and then I would get a seat. So now I am here in Baracoa, waiting in the heat and bored. What could be in the message? Maybe (it was a male name on the message) he was her lover or ex-lover or something and still owed her a favour? Or she had walked into him and saw him committing a crime or even a murder or him cheating… and now she is constantly threatening him and asking him to do stuff for her…. who knows, who knows. Heat and boredom make one creative, I know. As always, my day had started quite early again as I wanted to be early at the Viazul station. I spent my morning trying to look for coffee everywhere. But -surprise- the supermarkets were even more empty than usual. There was literally nothing. Even the guy who usually sells fruit didn’t have anything this time. He told me that due to New Years people were not working and thus there were no products available. ┬áPeople sent me from one shop to an other. “Oh, try and ask Jose, he might have some…. tell him I said hi…. He lives at street xyz around this and that corner”. Ah, Cuba. Nothing without connections and family relations or something. But still, I gave up in the end. My host Ana laughed hard and said “La gente no quiere trabajar!” (People don’t like working) and I added “No se como los cubanos pueden vivir si no hay nada en las tiendas!” (I don’t know how Cubans can live/survive if there is nothing in the shops). She laughed again and added “Tu no lo puedes imaginar!” (You cannot imagine what it’s like). Even if you have money, doing groceries is always an adventure.

Anyways, I said goodbye to my lovely hosts which was quite emotional. I really felt so comfortable at their place and I had a great time. I had to promise Ana and Ricardo to come back with my boyfriend and they said that we should come to Cuba on our honeymoon if we get married on day. I laughed pretty hard. (As a 21-year old people think it is a normal age to get married in Cuba). Then I took the Bici taxi and got to the station where I am now sitting on the floor in the shadow. A couple is playing cards next to me on the floor, another couple is sharing some food. I am getting quite emotional. Why is it, that Cuba is mainly a destination for couples, and not so much for individual travellers or groups? My journey could have been so different otherwise.

Finally, the bus driver arrives and asks us to step in. And my 15.5 hour journey to Havana begins….

Picture: Las batallas solo se ganan dentro de una sociedad collectivista.
Battles can only be won within a collective society.
I think that this quote fits the content of this blog entry pretty well as I am explaining how people rely on each other and connections in order to survive in Cuba. luckily, as Cuba is a collective society this works out pretty well. In capitalist societies however people rely more on themselves and don’t help each other out that much.